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International Relations Personal Statement

One of my inclinations for studying International Relations is my scepticism of US Foreign Policy. With particular regard to the United States' policy of democratisation in the Middle East, I want to understand whether democracy is the ultimate goal or whether there are ulterior motives involved. I have read several essays around this topic and while it is suggested that global democracy would benefit the US anyway due to increased security- there are numerous examples where democratisation has been counterproductive such as the rise of fundamentalism and instances where the US itself has acted undemocratically. So, by studying International Relations, I hope to gauge a more comprehensive understanding of what drives the US.

Similarly, I am concerned by the influence global politics has on the media and how this limits the information we receive. Since the UK is a staunch ally of the US, there seems to be a very polarised view of "America good; Russia bad". Of course, however, a situation is never that straightforward and there is always at least one other perspective. I hope to identify what that perspective is.

My A-Levels have played a major role in developing my interests. Most overtly, History introduced me to the development of US Foreign Policy, from Isolationism to a more interventionist position particularly in South America-and how this compares to the modern day. Equally, it made me aware of the historical relationships between England, Europe, Scotland, and Ireland-and I wonder how the UK's departure from the EU may change these. Moreover, politics forms a large part of my Classics A-Level. The study of the respective governments of ancient Greece and Rome has shown me the pros and cons of democracy and has ultimately led me to question whether democracy can be achieved by everyone. Arguably, however, my Literature A-Level actually played the most significant role, as my fundamental curiosity in politics was derived from reading (and writing) political dystopian fiction.

My fascination with the Middle East has developed as a direct result of my interest in International Relations. I have a rudimentary knowledge of the Iranian Revolution, the 2011 Arab Spring, and the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict. I am also involved in a continuous documentation project composing a timeline of the Syrian Civil War. My specific curiosity, however, is with Lebanon due to its religious diversity and relationships with Israel and Syria. From my research into the Lebanese Civil War and inquisitiveness of Syrian-Lebanese relations has evolved, focusing on the parallels between the two countries during their respective civil wars.

While international politics is my primary interest, I also enjoy domestic politics. I am part of the Student Council, in which I suggested a debating team that has just been given the go ahead. From participating in debates, I hope to improve my communication and analytical skills, and I look forward to conducting even more research to provide airtight arguments. I am partaking in a week's placement at my local MP's Office, where I hope to gain a more professional insight into the work of the government. Additionally, I am currently learning basic Arabic, French and German. Certainly, this will contribute to my study of International Relations by allowing me to further widen my political perspective and prepare me for a career in journalism abroad.

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Author's Comments

I used it to apply for: International Relations and Arabic (Leeds and St Andrews), International Relations (York and Edinburgh) and International Relations and Politics (Northumbria).

Honestly, I thought this was really bad, but it got me 5 offers! Reading it back, it makes my eyes water with embarrassment. Looking at other people's personal statements for International Relations, I was really worried because they seemed to have lived in 12 different exotic locations around the world or their parents were diplomats etc, and I'd never even left the UK! Despite this, though, I think what you have to mostly convey is a true love for the subject you're applying for, which I hope did. Tbh since writing this, my main focus has changed to Iraq, but ah well.

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