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Student story

Josh Toohey

20 July 2023

"I feel like Political Science and Chinese have complemented each other very well..."


Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Chinese

Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Diplomacy and International Relations

Master’s student, University of Oxford, UK

Josh has always had a taste for exploration. After taking a wide variety of Arts courses in his first year, he decided that learning a language and studying Political Science was an ideal choice, leading to an exciting opportunity to study in China.

"I was able to study in China with UC's Summer School programme at the end of my first year, and returned for further study each summer since," he says.

"I feel that Political Science and Chinese have complemented each other very well. Political Science takes a more academic route to understanding the world we live in, while my Chinese proficiency developed at UC has allowed me to communicate with a wide range of people in China, helping me understand first-hand different ways of thinking and a different society."

After first attending UC through the STAR programme, Josh was happy to return to start his university career and found the support he needed to feel at home.

"All my UC lecturers had infectious enthusiasm about their disciplines, and came from a wide range of countries with varied backgrounds, which gave useful insights into both professional and academic life.

"The Arts Scholars programme also gave me great opportunities to hear from a wide range of experts outside my major subjects, as well as opportunities to mentor high school students."

Josh enjoyed his Chinese courses and trips to China enough to continue studying it at Honours level, complementing his main studies towards International Relations and Diplomacy.

"I feel like learning a language is much more than just learning vocabulary. It has given me opportunities to speak to Chinese people from all walks of life using their native language and to develop my own impressions of this society, rather than relying on second hand information translated and interpreted by others.

"UC's Confucius Institute also offers valuable opportunities to practise Chinese when on campus."

Josh certainly made the most of his time at UC. After receiving a UC Dux Scholarship to help with his first year, Josh added a number of awards to his list, including an Arts Scholarship award and a UC Earthquake Foundation Scholarship.

To contribute to his Honours studies he also received a College of Arts Honours Scholarship and a UC Senior Scholarship, and won the Navy League of Canterbury Prize in Diplomacy and International Relations.

Josh intends to take his success to faraway places.

"I have always been interested in exploring how our world operates," he says. "I would love to work as a diplomat or for a non-governmental organisation – ideally making the world my workplace."

Right after completing his Honours studies, Josh did a six-month internship at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in the New Zealand Aid Programme's Humanitarian and Disaster Management Team.

"I think my time at UC prepared me for that work, directly in terms of the content I learned in my degree, as well as with general writing and analytical skills."

From Wellington, Josh headed to Beijing to undertake Princeton University's Intensive Chinese Language Training Program, and was awarded a Prime Minister's Scholarship for Asia to cover his costs.

He is now in Britain reading a Master of Science in Contemporary Chinese Studies at Pembroke College, University of Oxford.

"This is an interdisciplinary social science course that utilises my international relations, political science, and Chinese language study from UC."

For those who are not sure what they want to study initially, Josh recommends taking an Arts degree at UC to try a range of different subjects.

"If you are hesitant with course choices, I would recommend giving it a go in the first year – the Bachelor of Arts structure allows flexibility if you decide on a different major. Learning a second language is never easy, but first-year classes take it slowly to provide a solid foundation, which makes classes seem easier and easier each year."


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