Dr Thomas Warren – BA (Hons), MA and PhD International Relations graduate

Current employer: University of East Anglia

Current job title: Senior Research Associate

Current location: East Anglia / Norwich

Tell us what you have been doing since completing your studies.

I completed my PhD in International Relations in 2015 out of Plymouth University. I went on to hold a lecturing role at the University of Birmingham before being appointed as a Senior Research Associate at the University of East Anglia. My subject area is European Politics, and I have been passionate about research and teaching in this area since being introduced to the subject as an undergraduate in International Relations at Plymouth.

I work alongside leading experts/academics in my field researching European Politics and Integration issues – particularly Brexit! As part of this role, I also get to interact with senior UK and European policy makers. I have also published my research (undertaken originally at Plymouth University) in international standard journals and spoken at international conferences and events.

Teaching and enthusing the next generation of students in European Politics has also been a continual part of this role.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

I have a passion for both research and teaching, which I harnessed during my time at Plymouth University. The ability to extend the frontiers of knowledge while enthusing the next generation of students is a constant high for me.

What would you do differently since graduating?

I have found that there are many challenges to research, teaching and an academic life in general. However, it is vital to try and maintain a healthy work life balance. In hindsight, I wished I had allowed myself more time off to relax and enjoy my surroundings. I think this is vital in order to ensure that you are able to give 100 per cent in your job over the long term.

Imagine you were about to start university again – with the benefit of hindsight – what would you now tell yourself to have done differently?

It is important when you are an undergraduate that you begin to plan for your future employment. Plymouth University offers students lots of guidance on issues related to CV writing, interview processes and assessments. In hindsight, I wish I had taken advantage of these opportunities as an undergraduate. Also, your peers and lecturers are a valuable source of advice and information. Due to not always taking advantage of these services, I had to learn more by trial and error when on the job market.

What was your main reason for choosing to study your course at Plymouth? With hindsight how significant was this for you (e.g. the course was accredited, offered a work placement or additional masters year, location was key)?

When I visited Plymouth University I found the learning environment to be friendly and welcoming while at the same time staff were keen to address important and vital issues. I also found the lecturers to be passionate about their subject – and they taught it in a very engaging way. The beautiful location and active student union were also factors for me!

How did we support you in your studies? If you used any support services whilst at the university how did they enable you to get to where you are today (e.g. Careers & Employability Service, library service, LabPlus, counselling, learning development service, PALS)?

The university has supported me greatly. I was awarded a scholarship by Plymouth Business School in order to undertake my Master's degree and PhD. I simply would not have been able to afford the option of post graduate education without this financial support.

Over many years my lectures and personal tutors have been a continual source of both academic and personal advice – many of whom I count as good friends now. I have found the International Relations Departmental and wider academic and administrative staff to be very supportive of me throughout my studies and future employment. In particular, the library service is excellent, and they are only too happy to help you find resources you are looking for.

I also undertook a postgraduate teaching course through Plymouth which benefited me in my future employment. I have also in more recent time carried out research alongside former academic advisors located at Plymouth University.

How did studying at Plymouth change your career aspirations and plans?

Before studying at Plymouth University, I was unsure about whether I should undertake university education. In fact, I did not consider myself an ‘academic’ in any meaningful sense and the possibility that I could undertake a career as an academic researcher or lecturer never crossed my mind. It was only after being inspired and enthused for my subject at Plymouth that I changed my mind and decided an academic career was the path I wanted to pursue. In short, studying at Plymouth University transformed by career aspirations and plans!

What is your favourite memory of studying for your degree at Plymouth?

My favourite memory is graduating on the Hoe. It was a beautiful day and the views were breathtaking. Of course, a sense of accomplishment also added to the occasion, and the chance to celebrate alongside life long friends made during my time at Plymouth.

How well did Plymouth prepare you for the challenges that you have faced, or will face, in your career?

Before studying at Plymouth, I was not a high academic achiever. However, I now have the confidence, knowledge and skills to compete and hold my own against anyone I come up against in my academic career. Studying at Plymouth also taught me the value of teamwork and social skills, which are so integral to building a successful career in any area.

Why would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University?

  • The passion of the staff for the subject
  • The friendly welcoming atmosphere
  • The focus on employability and wider social skills
  • The location and wider university experience

Inspired by this story?

For more information about our range of international relations courses within the School of Law, Criminology and Government, please visit the school page.

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