Simon Harvey - What our students say - University of Derby

Simon Harvey

Simon Harvey, BA (Hons) History, tells us of the advantages to studying this particular course at Derby and what the course has to offer.

What advice would you give to anyone that's thinking of coming to study at the University of Derby?

It's a good collection of people from all parts of the country, so you gather together and become friends almost instantly. The University encourages the interaction, and particularly with the History Department where there's a whole week of tours of the city. You can fully immerse yourself into the whole university experience.

What are the main reasons for taking this course?

I’d always had a very strong passion for history from an early age, especially during my previous job as a Merchant Sea Farer, and always wanted to take it up in more detail to fully indulge in that passion that I had.

What are the best things about studying your course?

One of the most important things is you can look at both the past and contemporary views, and opinions of today, and analyse them. You gain an enormous amount of skill with that, and sharing it with likeminded people as well, to share ideas, bounce off friends and tutors especially.

What have you enjoyed about the course so far?

Looking back at handwritten letters from figures like Lord Kitchener and Lord Curzon. Seeing episodes from their lives play out in print before you in their own handwriting is something that I think only History can offer.

Why did you choose to study the course at University of Derby?

Derbyshire is a great place for history, particularly during the Industrial Revolutiuon, and because of places that are right on your doorstep such as Chatsworth House and Kedleston Hall. It's one of the best places in the country for a course like this as a result.

How have you found the tutors in the support that they’re giving you?

The tutors on the course offer, especially with undergraduates, a very high standard of hands-on approach. They encourage tutorials to help us, and they are people you can go to at any time. They’re not only your tutors, they’re your friends as well.

Have you had any interesting guest speakers or lecturers?

The History Department has a very strong link with the History Society, so that's where we get a lot of our guest speakers. Our lecturers will be in contact with students like myself to organise events, such as local business like Rowntree or even the Derby Freemasons as well.

What do you think of the facilities and equipment at the university?

With History, the most important equipment, of course, is books and archives, and our library is stacked high with history books. What’s also important there is you can interchange and take things from sociology or architecture. History covers a very wide range of things. The facilities in the library are excellent, linked into National Archives and the journal articles that are kept on vast databases.

Are you involved in any clubs are societies?

I've been President of the History Society for the last year. Going into my second term, what that enables us to do as a society is increase a greater participation of students, not just with the history course but with the entire university. I would fully recommend new or current students to join a society. There’s a very academic side and then the social side, and we do intermix – it’s just great fun really to take part in something like that.

What would you like to do in your future career and how do you think university study has helped you towards this?

I’ve always had an interest in going into the Civil Service, particularly the Foreign Office, and studying History is very good for absorbing vast amounts of information, and succinctly putting it into a different argument to present well. The seminars get you more comfortable with public speaking, and it enhances that kind of transferrable skill.

What do you like about the city of Derby and Derbyshire?

One of the great things about Derby is that it’s so steeped in heritage, and one of the opportunities that we have with the History Society is to explore that in greater detail. For the Fresher’s Fortnight in particular we do a walk-around tour of the buildings of Derby, indulging in its ghostly past.

How would you sum up the experience of studying this course at the University of Derby?

I think the experience here is very unique. Derby has got it right with its interaction between undergraduate students, and the whole tutor/student relationship is thoroughly encouraged.

Did you benefit from having a personal tutor?

Without a doubt. One of the advantages is that you have this person you’re speaking to on a regular basis that is outside of the academic. You can talk about potential jobs and the job market, also any worries whether personal, academic or financial. That hands on, one-on-one with someone that you’re with for the entire course is priceless.

What does it mean to you to have places like Chatsworth on your doorstep?

Having places like Chatsworth itself being on the doorstep can’t really be put into words. We’re surrounded by a rich history and pasts of people who have had ties from 1066 and beyond. We come to Chatsworth every year for a look around, and there are other places like the Derwent Valley Mills, looking into the industrial side of the buildup of Britain.