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Limaben Jamir is a MSc student in Applied Social Psycology at Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL).  Being very close to graduation, she is now working on her dissertation on the impact of ethnopolitical conflict in Nagaland, India.  Aside from her studies, she is also a member of the RHUL Diplomatic society  and a very good friend of mine.

Why did you enroll for such an offbeat and unconventional course and how did you choose your university?

During my undergrad I developed strong interest in psychology. Back in India at Delhi University I studied psychology, sociology and human rights.  But my interest in social psychology doesn’t only arise from the academics. I’m from Nagaland, a state in the north-eastern part of India which has for long time been in a ethno-political conflict.  This has mainly shaped my interest in studying social psychology, specifically political conflicts.

Why Royal Holloway?  Social psychology is very new discipline in India, so I was determined to pursue my degree abroad. Royal Holloway has one of the best psychology departments in UK, listed in top 10. Apart from rankings, faculty research interest had an impact on my choice of the university. I read many articles published by the academic staff of the department, in particular my current supervisor.

Why did you choose UK as a study destination?

I initially considered only English-speaking countries for my Master’s studies, since my undergrad was in English as well.  Circumstances stood that I go to UK. Moreover, RHUL is one of the few universities that has specialised masters course in applied social psychology.

How would you describe the structure of  your course?

In short, lots of exams, essays almost every week and extensive presentation work.  Teaching hours are less compared to Indian universities.  Another key feature of the course being equipped with extensive social research methods.

Dissertation is part of the requirement of the course. This was also one of the reasons I chose UK. In India not all students are entitled to do research, only a few selected are given opportunity to conduct their own work.

Lima, for me social psychology still sounds obscure. Could you give an example of how and when social psychology is applied?

I can understand where the vagueness comes from. The thing is that there is a big overlap between sociology and psychology.  But we, as social psychologists, are first and foremost interested on how the society shapes the personality and determine its feelings, emotions, actions.   As an example, let’s consider a region which had experienced a major conflict. One of the roles of the social psychologists is to introduce an intervention programme in conflict affected regions.  Intervention programs include introducing educational programmes that would equip people with skills required to find a job, help them with family planning or apply the skills learnt in health, organizational, and educational settings etc.

And if we find good practices of dealing with the psychological consequences, we can propose them to the governments, think-tanks, UN organisations, World Bank, etc.

What career options are open to graduates from this course?

Many of the graduates continue their studies at the PhD level. That’s what even I’m planning to do.

How did you fund your studies?

Unfortunately there were no scholarships available, granted by the department of psychology at RHUL. My studies were partially covered by the state government of Nagaland.

Lima, to finish our conversation, I would like to congratulate you and the diplomatic society of RHUL for the great job you did throughout the year. The RHUL Model United nations team (MUN) was named one of the best this year.

Thank you! It was such a great experience to participate at  MUN. I would like to encourage all the international students to take part in social events and to engage in the work of various societies, corresponding to their interests.