Hear from current and past students about their experiences at the School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations.
Postgraduate student profiles
Find information on current and previous postgraduate students and their thesis topics on each school's page:
Undergraduate student profiles
Abby Fisher, an International Relations student, recently represented New Zealand on the 29th Ship for World Youth. Below are some of Abby's reflections on her journey.
'On January 17th, I left New Zealand for what I soon would find out to be an unforgettable journey. Eleven carefully selected youth leaders from around Aotearoa New Zealand, including myself, and one amazing national leader from Whanganui, were about to begin the Japanese government led programme, the 29th Ship For World Youth Leaders.
One hundred and twenty youth from 10 different countries, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Egypt, Fiji, India, Kenya, New Zealand, Tonga and Ukraine were met by 120 other youth from Japan in Tokyo.
The programme is designed to foster international relationships between Japan and the rest of the world, explore and share each other’s cultures, discuss common global issues and ways to solve them and develop the next generation of global leaders.
Graciously sponsored by the Japanese, we spent a few days at local homestays, for us it was Hiroshima. We then had one week in Tokyo participating in pre-departure orientation and attending various seminars from specialists around Japan, before heading to Yokohama and jumping on board the cruise ship ‘Nippon Maru’ – our new home for the next 33 days. This boat carried us for these 33 days around the Pacific, stopping at Vanuatu, Aotearoa, Fiji and Solomon Islands. We had various focus groups, seminars, activities, discussions, cultural events and institutional visits both on board and at the various ports. It was an intensely scheduled programme, all timed down to the minute with Japanese efficiency, which did not come without its challenges – like 4 different influenza outbreaks! However, it was an amazing experience to network with global youth about topical world and local issues as well as sharing our own culture and our own countries issues.
What I experienced and learned though, were the masses of similarities. Borders, cultures, languages, genders, class, religions, ethnicities, political views etc. may separate us, but we are all humans. A lot of us either have distaste for current systems or a desire to change something in our countries or in the world. No matter where we are from, what I saw was an immense passion and spirit in all the youth on the boat. This passion erupted from kindness and empowerment. If the whole world was in a kind, open-minded, supportive place like on SWY, so many people would be empowered, so much passion would be ignited, and so much change for the better could occur. It is our mission, and our duty, as youth to determine the course of the world's future, after this experience I truly believe we have the ability within us, if only we could all support and empower one another.
A second reflection I had was that I have been too globally focused. Yes the world issues are important and affect all of us. But if we are not content with ourselves or with our current local, national, or regional situations, we have little chance of impacting the world. Change starts with us, at home. The grass roots level movements are not to be looked overlooked, and for me personally, that is something I intend to focus more on - changing the world by starting with myself, here, now.'
Daniel Gamboa Salazar
Bachelor of Arts student
Victoria University gave me the strength to overcome my refugee past and the critical thinking skills to help those in the same situations.
I came to New Zealand as a refugee from Colombia. Since I heard that Victoria University has one of the best Political Science and International Relations programmes in New Zealand, I knew I wanted to study here.
It seemed almost impossible to start my degree at Victoria because I didn’t speak English and my Colombian school qualifications weren’t up to the New Zealand academic standards. However, Victoria gave me the tools and support through the English Proficiency and Foundation Studies programmes to successfully start my Bachelor of Arts.
International Relations has opened my eyes to many new perspectives. It has even helped me to explore and finally understand the conflict in my home country, Colombia. On the other hand, Political Science has helped me to understand the way my new country, New Zealand, works.
Victoria encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone and put into practice what I learnt in the classroom. All the knowledge that I’ve acquired, and am still acquiring from my degree, has enabled me to become the president of the New Zealand National Refugee Youth Council.
Bachelor of Arts student
"Philosophy scrutinises many prevalent issues within differing schools of thought, inspiring
students to adopt perceptive, creative approaches to contemporary problems."
"Kia Ora, I am currently enjoying my Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Philosophy and Media. I chose to study Philosophy as I wanted to learn a more critical, discerning thought process, while being exposed to various new ideas and theories. Philosophy is a highly versatile subject, and the skills it teaches also complements many other reading and writing based subjects.
There are various different areas to choose from, including ethics, aesthetics, epistemology or logic. One of the best parts about Philosophy is the encouragement students get to engage in open discussion, bolstering analytical thought and creative new ideas.
Philosophy teaches fantastic skills through formal writing, critical analysis and adaptable approaches to concepts. It’s very empowering, learning how to conduct independent research and objectively approaching arguments while developing your own critical claims. Establishing these skills and getting used to a higher, conceptualised thought process is a great reason to take Philosophy.