25 Apr 2019
This blog was kindly written by a former MA in Intelligence and International Relations student at Staffordshire University. Name withheld.
I initially found out about Staffordshire University's close work with armed forces students when attending a military education course; I then spoke to numerous colleagues as several had taken up the opportunities offered by the university. I gained advice on how to apply for the course and when I contacted the university, they were extremely helpful. In addition, due to their armed forces links, they were able to give excellent advice on how to organise and gain access to Enhanced Learning Credits. I only spent about 30 minutes in total applying, gaining access to ELCs and then being subsequently loaded onto the course beginning in September 2016. It was a very slick and easy process.
The semesters were sensible and manageable, despite being in a busy post at that time. The first semester was definitely the most challenging for me as it was the subject I was least familiar with. It was also my first proper experience of distance learning at a post-graduate level. That said, it was also one of the most interesting semesters. I was learning something truly new but highly relevant and useful in understanding the legal and historical context and current international factors that have seen armed forces personnel deployed on operations over the last one hundred years or so.
The university's staff were excellent, I always felt valued and supported. I received genuinely useful, practical, frank advice and feedback. As well as the study literature being high quality there was also easy access to all the university's library resources and online text books. In addition, there was a plethora of advice available to support essay and VSP writing. The second two semesters were more straight forward for me personally as they were highly relevant to my job role. I thoroughly enjoyed my dissertation and the plan I worked through with my supervisor ensured that I had a pragmatic and achievable programme of work. The relationship I had with my supervisor ensured, again, useful productive feedback and excellent support. This enabled me to achieve the grade I was aspiring to.
Despite never setting foot onto the university campus, I still sincerely feel that I was as valued and well supported as any full-time student physically attending lectures at the university. I would recommend this course to others without hesitation. It is challenging, interesting and extremely relevant to those in the armed forces where a practical knowledge of strategic current and historical international issues is relevant. I believe the content and strategic focus of this course means it has a utility that reaches across the military and not just to those with links to intelligence.
Overall, my experience with Staffordshire University was excellent. I am a better armed forces professional for completing it.