Maria Collinge

Sociology BSocSc and Sociological Research MSc

Why did you choose to study this course?

Maria Collinge
Maria Collinge completed her undergraduate and Master's degrees at Manchester.

Studying sociology at A-Level, I was fascinated about the study of people, communities and places and the overarching structures which determine not only how society functions, but also the intricate impacts on human behaviour.

Sociology is a course with so much breadth, covering history, philosophy, economics and politics, which meant the diversity of knowledge I would acquire would be invaluable. My long-term career goals were always to work in the public sector (although I didn’t know much about what that meant at the time) and knew the course would equip me with the knowledge and skills to succeed in the sector. This is due to the breadth of topics including race, consumerism, sustainability, immigration, education and so much more – all areas which are important in government and policy-focused organisations.  

In my final year, I took the decision to advance my studies by picking up a Master's in Sociological Research (MSc) as I wanted to expand my knowledge further and push myself academically. I knew that Manchester was the perfect place to continue my studies, as I had already developed the right relationships with lecturers which would set the groundwork for my success in my Master's.

What stands out from your time here?

The learning environment and support I received during my undergraduate and postgraduate degree.

I became so immersed in my subject and was lucky to have a comfortable variety of places to study. I also hugely valued the support from my lecturers who willingly helped and guided me throughout my studies, which meant I got the most out of both my degrees. I am still in close contact with some of my lecturers today, so you can build up meaningful connections with people you never thought you would.

What do you feel is unique and studying here?

When studying a topic like sociology in such detail, Manchester is the perfect city to study societal structures and communities.

A city with so much socio-political history, diversity and industrial pace, you can see your theoretical understanding of the world translate on the ground.

When I looked around the campus and found out more about the different modules on my open day, I was certain that Manchester was the place I would study my Sociology degree. The campus, its history and its overall reputation are what gravitated me there, and I couldn’t have been happier with my choice.

What has most benefitted your career?

Studying society is invaluable to the workplace, particularly if you want to go into government-related work like me.

As well as the overall knowledge you obtain about the world, the qualitative and quantitative analysis expertise significantly valuable when entering the job market. My ability to accumulate a wealth of information from a variety of different sources in order to develop a well-rounded influential argument has served me well in my career so far and will prove even more important as I move up in my career.

Politics and society change quickly, and the ability to grasp rapid change quickly, and to subsequently report and strategise on them accordingly, is a skill that will be important for my career development within local government.

Was there a particular experience that helped you progress to the next stage in your career?

Taking the decision to stay on at Manchester and do a Master's is the best decision I made myself from a professional perspective.

I never went to Manchester thinking I would stay on and do a Master's, until a couple of lecturers suggested it to me in my third year. The relationships I built with my lecturers and advisers is what pushed me and led me to believe in my ability and take my studies further.

Having a Master's under my belt, meant I was able to stand out when applying for government/policy-related roles. That being said, it is definitely a challenge and I would only suggest it to those who are genuinely committed to their subject area, as it requires a lot of time and energy to succeed.

If you could name one experience that you will take away from you, what would it be?

I would have to say that the overall experience of studying at Manchester is the most significant period of my life to date, so I would say generally completing my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

They were both a labour of love, an opportunity to independently delve deeply into subject areas that are of particular interest to me. Upon completing my Master's in 2017, I was proud of everything I had independently achieved and still am to this day.

I developed and grew so much from the person who entered the campus in 2012, it has undoubtedly shaped the person I am today. I proved to myself that by moving away from home, working hard, and giving it your all, you can achieve great things and it’s a lesson I’ll take throughout my lifetime.

What are your future plans?

I currently work in government relations in Westminster and thoroughly enjoy the work I’m doing.

Working for an organisation which liaises closely with local and national government departments to ensure that local councils minimise the risk of underperformance and lead effectively on a range of policy and service areas. I have learnt so much and envisage a long-term career in the sector.

Thinking forward to the future, I consider a long-term career in government, implementing policy strategies to ensure safety and equality across all community groups. I have no doubt I will stay close to Westminster – the hub of politics and where all the government departments are located. A big dream of mine would be to write articles and books on a whole host of societal issues and become an author in some capacity. Who knows what the future holds!

What advice would you give to future students?

I believe that what you decide to put into your degree, is what you will get out. I would say put your all into the subject.

I was fascinated and enthused by my degrees, to the point that I actually enjoyed studying and writing during the course (despite the stress I often endured during the process)! I would advise those considering studying at Manchester to take full advantage of the resources and people around you to ensure you get the best learning outcomes possible. I was always proactive and took it upon myself to regularly set meetings up with my lecturers and advisers – they are always willing to help and it’s great to meet up with lecturers to bounce ideas off and consolidate your own learning.

I would also say that don’t expect it to be an easy ride because undertaking a degree, particularly a Master's, is hard work. But keep on going knowing that the hard work reaps the rewards!