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My experience of studying a BA in War Studies

Hanna Pham

Graduate, BA War Studies

05 August 2022

Hanna Pham, recent graduate from a BA in War Studies, reflects on her time in the Department.

It’s hard to believe that after a university experience filled with challenges and an entire year completely online, I graduated with a BA in War Studies — and at an in-person ceremony!

The months I spent agonising, staying up late, and eating my meals in the Maughan Library culminated in the most amazing payoff I could’ve ever imagined."– Hanna Pham

Despite all the ups and downs, the past three years have been memorable. One of the special aspects of War Studies is the abundance of opportunities to learn and grow outside of seminars and lectures. I attended so many informative talks both with external speakers and the wide array of experts in the Department itself. It felt like every week there was an opportunity to go to an event whether that be a book launch, a Q&A panel or careers talk. One of my favourite speaker events was Dr Joanna Cook’s talk about her book A Woman’s Place, it really opened my eyes to the connection between gender and war.

At times, being a student in War Studies felt surreal. The Department is filled with experts in their field, it’s pretty common for professors in the Department to be consulted for current events and documentaries. Just to list a couple, Dr Pablo de Orellana, whom I worked with to help set up an art exhibition, hosted an episode of the BBC documentary Rise of the Nazis and was given the title “Expert on Joseph Goebbels”. Dr Ahron Bregman, a guest lecturer during my second year, was the focus of the 2019 documentary The Spy Who Fell to Earth for his role in exploring the life and death of Ashraf Marwan, an Egyptian millionaire and Israeli spy. The interactions I’ve had with experts in the Department of War Studies haven’t just been sightings in the hallway but have been meaningful and integral to my education.

Hanna Pham with War Studies bagf

There is a plethora of happy memories I have from the past three years, but if I had to pick just one it was receiving a mark of 80 on my dissertation. The months I spent agonising, staying up late, and eating my meals in the Maughan Library culminated in the most amazing payoff I could’ve ever imagined. The progression I’ve made as a writer and researcher from the feedback and guidance I’ve received from seminar leaders for the past three years was on full display for my dissertation.

In all honesty, I am nervous to graduate, but given that I am going straight into a master’s program, I don’t feel as nervous as I would’ve been if I was currently job hunting. Next year I am pursuing a master’s degree in international journalism at City University and War Studies provided the perfect foundation of knowledge and training.


One of the most critical skills I learned in War Studies is doing rigorous research. For every seminar in every module, I felt challenged and captivated by the assigned reading. It pushed me to analyse complex documents to pull out main points and articulate them to others. As an aspiring journalist, War Studies provided me with invaluable skills and put me at an advantage in this profession.

Not only am I graduating with a first class from one of the best universities in the world, but I’ve also made first-class friendships and connections that wouldn’t have been possible if I had done a different degree.

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