Blog post

Why I joined a society and how it can benefit you

Being a member of a society can be a big part of your life at university. And there is so much choice. Here is my personal experience – why I joined the Publishing Society, how I set up my own micro society and how being part of a society can benefit you. It’s all about societies here.

By Christina Vassell - 12 June 2019

Society variety

There are a variety of subject-based societies to choose from within the Union of Students. They range from Photography to Politics and even Glee. Many of these societies often incorporate fieldtrips and enlist projects outside of the curriculum. They collaborate with one another or with guest speakers to educate the members on academic or industry-specific topics.

There are also sports clubs and teams that enable students to have an active lifestyle, and often involve inter-university competitions such as Varsity.

What are macro and micro societies?

It is also important to distinguish between macro societies and micro societies. Macro societies tend to centre on quite broad topics and typically have a minimum of 15 members. In some cases, macro societies can have fifty or more members. Micro societies are usually niche with around ten (or more) members. So, whether you feel comfortable in gathering with a larger group of students or would like to collaborate with a small crowd, there are societies for everyone.

Ways to find ‘your’ society

Most societies are active on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. These show updates of previous events as well as contact information if you want to speak to a senior member directly. In this manner, I discovered the Publishing Society, which I joined back in September 2018. As a Joint Honours English major, I was actively looking for ways to combine my hobby of reading with the prospect of developing transferable skills.

Transferable skills and like-minded friendships

In joining the Publishing Society, I was able to explore the process of book production and further my editorial skills outside of the classroom. From here, I wrote an article for the Publishing Society magazine, The Writer’s Block. One of the many platforms for the student body, the magazine brings the University’s talent together . It showcases fiction, poetry and illustrations created by students. I also gained invaluable friendships with members who, like myself, were creative writers looking to publish their work. For these reasons, joining a society helped increase my self-awareness, confidence and employability.

Building strong networks

The variety of social opportunities created by each society will enable you to develop cultural, intellectual and navigational capital to specialise in your areas of interest. This will allow you to build strong networks with professionals in the field and begin to source new opportunities for a future career or, as in my case, to further my studies.

My own micro society

It was from discovering the connections to my course and appreciation for English literature that I worked with the Union of Students to create an English micro society. Initially, the process of establishing a new society did seem daunting. It would meant I would now hold a senior position on the committee as President, as opposed to solely being a member. However, by connecting with a few other English students, I soon realised we were equally as passionate about bringing students studying English and Humanities together, in an informal setting, where we could socialise and exchange ideas relating to the philosophies of literature, books and their place in history, culture and society.

I love the idea that our society will continue to support new students in the English department and give them a platform to explore their ideas outside of the course, as well as be part of a community of peers.

Personal growth

The fundamental benefit of being part of a society is that you will personally grow from the informal meetings provided by the societies. Joining a society is a great way of making friends as well as balancing your extra-curricular interests and course. This can alleviate academic stress. As a student, it is vital to sustain a good level of mental health. I feel that being part of a society can further equip you to maintain a healthy work-life balance later on in life.

About the author

Christina Vassell
Student Ambassador, Joint Honours English with Media Studies Graduate

Having achieved a bachelor’s degree in English with Media Studies, Christine is now a student representative at the University, working on projects such as the Student Attainment Gap Research and Student Experience.