School of Social Sciences student Alex talks us through his journey from undergraduate to postgraduate study at BCU.
Before joining university, I was filled with feelings of nervousness and excitement. From having three elder sisters, I had some ideas of what university was like, but I was still questionable of what exact course would suit me the best.
Consequently, when doing my A-levels, I started to realise that I really enjoyed sociology. Although I had not done this subject at GCSE level, it felt extremely natural to learn and obtain information. However, I did not get the grades I wanted to within this subject alongside my other A-levels. This resulted in me going through clearing, where I had looked through multiple universities thoroughly. However, I had one of my friends studying at Birmingham City University (BCU), and had already visited Birmingham to meet her. Within this short stay, I realised that I really enjoyed Birmingham and even stated that “I’d love to live here”. Yet, little old me did not know that three months later I would actually be living here and studying as well!!
As a result of all of these experiences, I chose BCU through clearing. This I can happily say was one of the best decisions of my life. My mum had pushed me to live away from home, and that’s exactly what I did. I ended up selecting BA (Hons) Sociology and Criminology, which I still argue as the greatest degree. Here, I was able to learn different realms of both sociology and criminology - two subjects which I was exceptionally interested in. This intrigue carried on throughout my undergraduate degree, where I sustained my focus and passion to resultingly get a 1st Class Honours.
After getting this grade, I could have decided to go anywhere in the world for my MA in criminology, however, I unquestionably stayed at BCU. This is due to many reasons, however, the most influential ones for me deciding on the MA Criminology course were the amazing lecturers, teaching, and resources; the ‘diversity’ element which is at the core of BCU’s belief system; the availability of employment opportunities; and the architecture of the buildings which allows single and group study. This, alongside the genuine ‘family’ nature of BCU itself, all helped me get to where I wanted to be.
When studying sociology, criminology, or any other social science, one is able to learn the realities of life and incorporate their lived experiences to truly understand and interpret our societal practices together with the exploration of political; cultural; and economic realms. This allows conceptualisations into why ideas are formed; how ideas are standardised; how ideas are then sustained; and how ideas are then forgotten.
This understanding of popularist ideas rising and falling allows an individual (like myself) to appreciate why I am interpreted by a particular group in one way, and how another group can perceive me through a completely different viewpoint. If you can recognise how people perceive you and others within society, it allows you to truly acknowledge all external practices which are occurring within such environments as the prison, to then take a step back and gain knowledge of why certain things are so ‘normative’ and other practices are being shaped as so ‘incorrect’.
Overall, MA Criminology explicitly allows each student to gain new understandings of both their own lives and those of other people across the globe. What is so important about this degree is that you can genuinely mould each module to fit any reality that you have experienced, whether it be having card fraud done to you, or whether you perceive your social position as being ‘lesser' to that of a criminal - this degree gives you the answers that you have been craving to know.