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Student story

Alice Hartley

20 July 2023

"The work I do is exciting, challenging and makes a real difference..."


Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Sociology

Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Political Science

Master of Arts in Political Science and International Relations

Associate, Allen + Clarke Policy and Regulatory Specialists Ltd, Wellington


Originally from Wellington, Alice came to UC because she felt the University offered exciting arts courses that could take her down numerous pathways.

"I am very interested in society and the way it all works, whether we are aware of it or not. I was always motivated to go to university. Learning about things you enjoy is exciting, and it is fun when you are passionate about what you are study."

Alice is working on her career as a policy advisor, ideally hoping to go on to work in a government department such as health, education or social policy. She is confident that her degrees will set her up well for this path.

"Sociology and Political Science help you look at the world in a critical way. The theories that we learn about often put into perspective many things that we take for granted or assume are common sense. Sociology challenges you – it allows you to ask questions that are open ended but you don't need to have an answer for them. I really like that about Sociology – you can show that you are critically analysing how society and people function.

"I love the fact that we studied this incredible range of diverse issues – things that we knew about and things that we didn't even know exist. Often the issues that I learn about in Sociology link up to the issues we talk about in Political Science. I do feel that the topics we learn about are real-world issues that are important. Furthermore, they are controversial and often they don't have simple answers."

During her time at UC, Alice has been invited to join the Golden Key International Honour Society, which recognises academic success and gives opportunities for community service. She also won a number of scholarships. Another key experience was to take the Arts Internship course at Christchurch City Council.

"I was keen to work on a project that simulated real-life policy making. I ended up producing a policy memo for the Christchurch City Council and Age Concern about fear of crime among the elderly. I also completed problem definition and policy design exercises as tools to help my policy recommendation."

With her master's research, Alice was able to take on another important cause to reduce New Zealand's HIV cases, by writing a policy for the implementation of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP).

"PrEP is a once-daily prophylactic medicine that has a +90% efficacy rate of preventing HIV transmission in at-risk individuals. It's a revolutionary new biomedical prevention method which has been said may play a huge part in eradicating the HIV virus. This work was particularly important given that HIV rates in New Zealand have risen for the last 5 years, despite lowering in many other countries."

Working at Allen + Clarke back in Wellington has set her on the path to support more positive change. Alice's role as an Associate involves policy, regulatory, and secretarial work for clients in the public and private sectors.

"I use the skills I learned in my honours and master's years every day," she says. "The work I do is exciting, challenging and makes a real difference. I never knew private policy firms existed but it is the best of both worlds – a variety of different projects for a wide range of clients, but the chance to make a difference."

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