I looked at universities around London as I was living in the South East and wanted to be reasonably near home. I liked Royal Holloway the most as it is based on the outskirts of the city so it’s not too busy or stuffy. The campus, buildings and green environment were probably the main factors in my decision.
I had been thinking about studying Psychology at university, however it is very scientific compared with what I had been doing at A Level, so I started looking at different areas that were similar but more socially orientated. I had not considered Criminology initially, but once I found out more I thought that it seemed really interesting. I had applied to the LSE to read Sociology, but adding Criminology into the mix was what differentiated Royal Holloway.
I was really inspired by the lecturers, particularly Sarah Moore who was so enthusiastic about her subject area. This enthusiasm transferred to the students so that we all felt excited by what we were learning. The first year courses were introductory and aimed to get you thinking about the different areas of the degree. The most basic way of describing the Criminology aspect is as the sociology of crime, so you are looking at why people commit crimes, whether the prison system is working, the success or otherwise of methods of resolving and reducing crime, across the whole breadth of society.
The programme starts off being very broad, which is helpful if you don’t have a definite idea of what you want to do after university, but also enables you to choose what you like and take this further. In the second and third years there are lots of options to choose from, which helps you to direct your interests. The Crime and the Law module in the second year, for example, is more oriented toward law and legislation rather than simply looking at how crime affects society, which can help you if you are interested in pursuing Law.
The overarching goal of the degree is to ‘make the familiar unfamiliar, and the unfamiliar familiar’. It’s about taking what you are not normally conscious of, like background behaviours and processes, and understanding them in specific social contexts, which gives you a really interesting insight into the everyday. For instance, a course I took in my third year, Sociology of Medicine, explored the way doctors behave with patients; the next time I went to the doctors I was really conscious of small things like the position of the table and the manner that they were taking towards me.
Outside of my studies, I was part of the Criminology and Sociology society and the Swimming club. This was a casual involvement as I wanted to focus on my work, but it is a good way of getting to know different groups of people and switching the focus from your course from time to time.
In my third year, quite a few of my friends started applying for graduate schemes, which sent me into a bit of a panic. I hadn’t thought about what I wanted to do as I had been enjoying the course so much. I found myself going through different careers options to pin down what I wanted to do, and ended up applying for things that were just not appealing to me at all, like accountancy. In the end, I decided to continue my studies as I enjoy what I do and want to take it further. I am in the process of applying to join the Civil Service’s Fast Stream programme, so hope to be doing something that utilises my skills in the future.