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Help with choosing MA offer in UK: International Relations at SOAS/Bath/QMUL

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Hi everyone,


I'm fairly new here, I discovered this forum looking around Studentroom.co.uk and see that responses here are generally more informative.  I'm an American student and haven't had much experience studying abroad so this was quite a jump for me for apply to schools in the UK, and now I'm at the stage of deciding between university offers for my postgrad.  I applied to three international relations-related fields at once and have accepted to all three (hooray!!  :D), however I am in great need for some advice on choosing one program. 


SOAS, University of London - MA in International Studies and Diplomacy 

University of Bath - MSc in International Development
Queen Mary, University of London - MA in International Relations
Suprise but unlikely option: CUNY City College - MA in International Relations


I've ranked them in the order of my preference right now, but I am still quite undecided and feeling pressed to make a decision before the end of this month.  My greatest concerns at the moment are the reputation of each program in the U.S./internationally, and ability to find employment in the respective fields afterwards.  I intend to resettle in New York for some time once I come back to pay off the cost of my studies abroad and try to get some more relevant work experience before I pursue further education.  I am quite certain I would enjoy and make the best of any program I attend, but I do want to know what someone else would choose in my shoes and why.  


-Additionally, can someone please help guide me in how they went about researching the reputation of their programs?  I want to know particularly because I will be using the degree in the US and potentially abroad.  School rankings don't seem to be of much use in this case, and all I hear seems to be that SOAS is highly recognized for it's regional studies and languages, but I don't hear much about their CISD program.  The reason I've ranked it as the top option right now is because of their expertise (and my interest) in the Middle East and North Africa, however.  Bath appears to be ranked well in some charts, at least in the top 10.  


In reflection, I really wish I had applied to more schools, maybe some slightly more prestigious programs but my self-doubt had crept up on me at the time, I thought I might not get into any at all.  My distant (wishful thinking) dream is to someday be in a good position to apply to Oxford/Cambridge or LSE for my PhD.   


Any advice, opinions, ideas, or tips would be greatly appreciated!  Even if you've gone to any of these schools, I would love for feedback, the end of the month is approaching so quickly.  

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As you can see from my signature, I am not in the field, nor have a begun grad school yet, but here are some thoughts that come to mind after reading your post.


Since you are doing a master's and applying again for a PhD later on, you can always apply to more prestigious schools for the PhD. I don't think it's a big deal if you didn't apply to higher ranking schools as long as they will provide you with a good education and experience.


I am not sure what your undergrad was in, but if it's a related field, I'd contact 2 or 3 profs and get their opinions. If not, does your former school offer studies in this area and could you email, call or drop by and ask for a few minutes of their time?


Sorry if I'm stating the obvious (I am not in a thesis-based program so my admissions process was different) but have you checked if any of the faculty in the department of these schools has completed part of their studies in NY? Do any of them do extensive research with someone in New York? If so, you might want to give this school extra consideration as they could play an important role in helping you to secure opportunities in NY later on down the road.

Edited by jenste
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Hi there, I'm a UK student in the political science/ IR kind of field so maybe I can offer some perspectives!


SOAS is a very well regarded school in the field and puts out a lot of strong research. If you're hoping to apply for PhD at LSE/Oxbridge in the future SOAS would be a good option for you as they all have a lot of links with SOAS - particularly in your chosen field of the Middle East and North Africa. However I can't speak of their international reputation but given their specialism I'm assuming they will only be known by those in the field, which could go either way for you should you apply to US programs later on. 


Bath is a solid uni, well regarded for undergrad, but nothing remarkable in terms of postgraduate study.


Queen Mary, on the other hand, from what I've heard is a reputable uni for post grad study. Being part of the University of London will also have huge advantages in terms of name-value when you move back to the US.


I think you're best options are SOAS or QMUL - you'll also benefit from being in the capital which is always a plus for networking (and general fun!)


Congratulations on your offers- its nice to be able to choose between great places! Good luck with your choice. 

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Wow, sorry for all the typos in the first post guys, I've only noticed them just now.  Thank you both for the replies, I decided to soothe my anxiety and accept my SOAS offer today. I think what won me were the list of courses I could take, the London Middle East Institute Centre being connected to it, everything about it sounds like a good fit with me.  Plus, part of the program involves visiting the UN in Geneva, which sounds great.  I'm really looking forward to my time in London this Fall!  


jenste: Thank you for the advice, I didn't actually study International Relations or studies for my undergrad, I went to a state university here in New York and studied history.  I had, however, spoken with a few professors from other departments who mentioned SOAS was a good option for me in Middle Eastern studies.  

Rainbow0121, which school are you attending or which did you apply to? 

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  • 3 years later...

I know I am a few years late to this thread, but I am at the exact crossroad with SOAS currently. If you don't mind me asking, how was your experience at SOAS? Did you feel like you were able to glean great information from lectures? How has your degree helped you in the work force post attending SOAS? Thank you in advance for ANY advice or feedback! 

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