Doing a degree with the Sociological Studies Department at the University of Sheffield has given me a wide range of both academic and life skills

A photo of Ella
Ella Rylatt-West
Research Officer at the College of Policing
Sociology with Social Policy BA with a year in employment
Ella studied Sociology with Social Policy at the University of Sheffield. Now Ella is a Research Officer at the College of Policing. Read below to hear about Ella's experience while at University and how this degree helped prepare her for her future.
A photo of Ella

Why did you choose to study at The University of Sheffield?

When I attended one of the open days I instantly fell in love with the city and the university. I really wanted to do BA Sociology with Social Policy as I had enjoyed Sociology A Level so much, however, not many universities offered this specific course … but UoS did, so Sheffield felt perfect for me! I remember the welcome talk that some of the department staff and student committee gave on the open day I attended. It was inspiring to hear from academics and students who were so passionate and knowledgeable about the course. Hearing about and seeing all of the different routes Sociology could take you down after graduating was something that appealed to me. 

What was the best or most useful thing about the course you studied in the Department of Sociological Studies?

For me the most useful thing I studied was ‘research methods’, through a variation of modules during my 3 years of undergrad. After graduating, I have gone into a Research Officer role and I wouldn’t be in this role if I hadn’t developed a wide range of knowledge and skills around research methods! Less specifically, I think doing a degree with the Sociological Studies department at the University of Sheffield has given me a wide range of both academic and life skills that I can continuously apply to so many different areas (in and outside of my career). 

What was your highlight from your time at university?

This is a really hard one as I have so many fond memories from my time in Sheffield. However, one of my main highlights from my time at university was definitely Varsity. It was always such a fun time of the year, and a nice chance to get a break from work, watch some sports games and have fun with friends! Another one which I can’t not mention is definitely the SocSoc summer ball. The summer ball is a lovely way to end the year with everyone on the course and some members of the department too. 

Tell us about your placement and how your course helped you with securing it.

During my 3rd year, rather than studying I took a year out and did a placement year through the Government Social Research sandwich placement scheme, working for the College of Policing as a Research Intern. I always knew I wanted to go into social research, so when one of the tutors emailed the application round I was keen to apply. My placement year was a little different as I completed it during COVID. However, I got the chance to work on a lot of amazing projects and even managed to secure a graduate job back at the College (which I’m currently doing now!) by taking the Social Research Assessment Centre (SRAC) towards the end of my placement. When prepping for my placement interview I had lots of support from the course. Liam Foster helped me to narrow down particular research methods and details which may come up in my interview and I used the work of Xavier L’Hoiry (“Shifting the stuff wasn’t any bother”) as my piece of qualitative research which I discussed in the interview.

What is Sheffield like to live in?

Sheffield is such a wonderful city to live in. It has a homely and safe feel to it, and everyone is so friendly. One of my favourite things about living in Sheffield was that there are so many amazing places to go to for food, drinks and to see live music. One of my favourite areas to go to was Kelham Island. There you can find Cutlery Works which is a big food market with multiple vendors in and also Peddler Market which has lots of different food trucks and often live music/DJ sets. If you want a bit more peace and quiet away from the city, then the Peak District is extremely close to Sheffield. You get the best of both worlds in Sheffield for sure! 

A photo of the Peak District

Do you have any advice for students thinking about studying at Sheffield?

University can be, and most often is one of the biggest life changes! So it is important to pick a University where you feel like you can access a wide range of networks and support as and when needed, the University of Sheffield is definitely one of those places. When starting university it is good to get involved with student life and your course as much as you can. Sheffield has so many societies, both activity and sports based. I would definitely recommend making the most of the Give it a Go events at the start of the year to test out different activities and sports which may be of interest. Overall, remember to make the most of your time at university and have fun.

Anything else you would like to tell us about?

If you have an interest in research and want to gain work experience then do look out for the Government Social Research sandwich year application which usually opens in Autumn. It’s such a valuable experience and could lead you to a career in the Civil Service!

Four students laughing while sat at a bench, outside the Students' Union

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