History and Politics Personal Statement.
It was after reading the Communist Manifesto as a historical document at the age of thirteen that I became intrigued how a seemingly small text could be so significant. A brief polemic, published some 160 years ago, profoundly influenced the course of 20th century history and is still cited for its influence on modern political writing today. My A Level History course has explored other authoritarian regimes, from Franco to Stalin, and this, coupled with a visit to St Petersburg, the site of several momentous historical events, helped me to contextualise the European contemporary political landscape. However, the seeds of my decision to study History and Politics at university were first sown by my intellectual consideration of the passionate views of Marx and Engels.
After studying post-war British politics in AS History, I became interested in Margaret Thatcher and her commitment to a neo-conservative ideology, which rejected the post -war norm of consensus politics. Her time in power represented a fundamental shift in the centre ground of UK politics, and of society. Reading Andrew Marr's 'History of Modern Britain' alongside my studies gave me further insight into a period of British history characterised by great change, both at home and abroad, and how both politicians and ordinary citizens reacted to Britain's changing place in the world.
I have read numerous texts to support my studies, including the works of Orlando Figes and Martin McCauley and have recently been introduced to the 'History and Policy' website which I have found to be an invaluable source of information, comment and historical context. Stefan Berger's article 'History and national identity' argues that History has always played a role in the creation of national identities, and that historiographic patriotism has been used to justify the Spanish Civil War, the Holocaust, and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. It encouraged me to explore further the idea of national identity in post-Soviet Europe, and how nationalism is being counteracted by different aspects of history, such as class, race, or feminism.
My other A Level courses have given me complementary skills. Music has given me valuable organisation and self-discipline as I balance the demands of composing for a full orchestra, analysing the music of a variety of 20th film composers and playing the flute to a level approaching Diploma standard. Psychology has given me a valuable insight into the human condition, an essential attribute for a modern historian or political commentator. As part of my psychology course, I visited Wakefield Archives where I researched the history of several patients who resided at the West Riding Asylum in the early 20th century. Independent study gave me a greater understanding of both the development of psychiatry and of the history of my local area.
I have numerous interests outside school, but much of my time is taken up with music as I play and sing in several ensembles. I lead an advanced quintet which has had considerable success in regional music festivals and earns its keep by performing semi-professionally at weddings. Singing has given me an appetite for the big occasion and two European tours with Foundation Chorus have seen me singing in Barcelona and Girona cathedrals and, most memorably, Basilica San Marco in Venice, where we had the extraordinary privilege of singing Mass. Music has given me valuable skills in time management and communication. Performing in large concerts holds no fears and I am giving a solo lunchtime recital at Wakefield Cathedral in the spring. I also have a longstanding commitment to sport: I played in the National Finals of Schools' Hockey and I have National Achievement and Recognition Awards in lifesaving.
I am passionate about History and Politics; ready for the intellectual and cultural challenges of university life and I look forward to the future with keen anticipation.
I applied to UCL (SSEES), Glasgow, Liverpool, Queen Mary UoL, and Northumbria and recieved offers from all 5.