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Headshot of BA (Hons) Politics and Sociology student, Thomas Jones. Student is wearing a white shirt and smiling.

In March this year Edge Hill hosted the annual undergraduate conference for the Political Studies Association. Thomas Jones, a second year BA (Hons) Politics and Sociology student, shares his views on the whole experience, including presenting research and chairing a session.

Start of the day

The Political Studies Association (PSA) is a professional organisation that brings together scholars and researchers interested in politics. The PSA provides a platform for members to share their research, attend conferences and events, and engage in discussions about current political issues. As a student, joining the PSA is a fantastic way to network with academics and practitioners, stay up to date with the latest research and debates, and develop your own research skills and interests. For me, it was a perfect opportunity to present something I was interested in, as well as to see other people’s research across a variety of topics and become aware of different fields of research individuals are interested in. The Undergraduate PSA was hosted at Edge Hill University, where undergraduate students from around the world could showcase their research. This is a nice introduction to the bigger PSA conference in Liverpool at the start of April. 

The day started with our Vice Chancellor, John Cater, introducing himself and discussing the politics within his role. Cater’s introduction was a nice appetiser for the rest of the day. He showcased the politics of working within the university and the potential threats that universities face. 

After Cater’s introduction we started to delve into research topics. My first difficulty was choosing which panel to attend! My first choice was “The Americas in Flux: Future Trade and Interconnectedness” since choosing American Politics as a module interested me in what other people had to say and would bring me new information I could learn. It was interesting to listen to a presentation about Christian Nationalism within the Republican Party, as the rise of religion within the Republican Party was a useful angle to hear about, especially since I am studying that topic. 

Time to present

Then it was time for me to present my research. At first, I was nervous, as expected, but when the presentation was up and ready, it felt natural to talk. It was well-received, and I got asked plenty of questions, which made me want to develop my research more. Presenting to people in a room as well as people online was something I never thought I would be able to do, especially in my second year of my degree. The time went by so fast, and I wish I could have presented for longer, but taking baby steps is the best. 

Next up was the Ashley Dalton MP talk, where she shared her experiences of being a new MP for West Lancashire. Dalton shared insightful and motivating words for young people wanting to enter politics, which further inspired me just after the high of presenting my research. We also listened to her first experiences of entering the Houses of Parliament, telling us the funny stories of how she had to learn the norms and codes which she wasn’t told beforehand. This provided some funny context into how Parliament works. It was very interesting to hear her plans to bring communities together, especially in this current political climate, and how she wants to bring people together and not divide. 

ashley dalton mp speaking in lecture hall
ashley dalton mp speaking in lecture hall 2 students sat down by her side
ashley dalton mp speaking in lecture hall

As the day went on, I chaired one of the last panels of the day. Chairing a panel involved introducing the presenters in addition to keeping the audience engaged, asking questions as well as choosing the questions from others.  Likewise with presenting my research, I was nervous for this too. After a couple of technical difficulties, as expected, it all went smoothly. It was interesting asking questions on people’s research, to which someone commended me on how professional I was –  a massive compliment. Finally, after a long day of politics the evening concluded with a networking session and a congratulations from everyone for presenting their research. A massive thank you to the undergraduate PSA team in addition to Edge Hill for being able to put on a significant event like this. 

Final thoughts

Overall, attending the Undergraduate PSA Conference was an incredibly rewarding experience that allowed me to engage with current political issues, present my own research, and meet like-minded individuals. It was a great opportunity to learn and grow as a student, and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in politics or academia. I look forward to attending more PSA events in the future and continuing to expand my knowledge and network in the field.”

Thomas Jones
BA (Hons) Politics and Sociology

There has never been a better time to study Politics and International Relations. Employers are increasingly looking for graduates who understand political and geopolitical realities. Networking opportunities. Plenty of lively debates. Field trips to party conferences and political events. Edge Hill gives you a real-world experience of the political landscape.

April 6, 2023