Our Combined Social Sciences experiences so far

Ammar Alhady, Menglin Luo, Zhanyan Dong and Olivia Smith

Our Combined Honours in Social Sciences (CHSS) students explore what it’s been like studying across departments, bringing their favourite subjects together under one degree!

Ammar Alhady, a first-year student studying Anthropology, Economics, and Geography

So far the learning experience has been positive.  Professors have successfully been able to make their classes engaging, as well as themselves friendly and available to any queries.  I do enjoy the smaller encounters in seminars/tutorials, as it feels more personal and intimate, as opposed to the almost intimidating volume of students in a lecture. The complexity and volume of reading provided took some time to get used to (with some complicated vocabulary) but, as I am interested in the modules I’ve chosen, I’ve managed to stick with it.

Everybody has been friendly and inviting in the university, whether it is staff or students.  After a few weeks in I feel as if I’ve already been integrated into the community.  Especially with such a modular course, I’ve been exposed to all sorts of motivated students and staff. Other than that, local students are also commonly intrigued by my international background, so that icebreaker usually leads to conversations and it’s very interesting to hear western perspectives on matters.  Overall, I have had a positive experience integrating into the University community.

Ammar Alhady

Menglin Luo, a final-year student studying Archaeology, Music, and Japanese

The CHSS program provided me with the opportunity to design my own degree and explore my interests rather than just focusing on one single subject. Except for traditional lectures and seminars, some of my classes also have workshops, labs and fieldwork which can take me outside the classrooms or even the university, these diverse modes of teaching are all very engaging for me. In addition, apart from the academic departments, I was also able to get help from DCAD with writing and other digital skills, which are all helpful for me as an international student.

From an academic perspective, I found my departments to be inclusive and welcoming for students at all levels, therefore there’s a sense of belongings to the department. From a social perspective, college is like a home, where you will have your college tutor group and college “family”. There are also many student-led societies in the university where you can make friends who share similar interests and hobbies.

Zhanyan Dong, a final-year student studying Anthropology and Sociology

Durham’s Combined Social Sciences department offers incredible flexibility and inclusiveness. Being elected as a departmental representative, I am able to raise any issue related to academics or EDI (which stands for equality, diversity, and inclusion). From the perspective of an international student, my voice is always heard and respected, and I have been fully supported and encouraged to do my best.

Due to the pandemic and corresponding lockdown, I, unfortunately, lost one or two years of normal student life at Durham. Nevertheless, becoming part of the university community means a lot to me, taking the forms of joining several interesting societies, attending local volunteering activities, accessing university facilities etc.

Zhanyan Dong

Olivia Smith, a second-year student studying Business and Italian

As I am sure a lot of people do, I have often felt a bit lost in what I am doing at university. However, what I have noticed is that in comparison to other students not doing CHSS, CHSS students have access to so much more support. CHSS has specific drop-ins that enhance the whole learning experience and the CHSS team are incredibly supportive and always ready to help. There is fantastic promotion of doing what you enjoy, so the modules you select can be internationally focused. Most importantly, as an international student, I feel entirely welcome and treated no differently than anyone else in my modules.

I arrived in Durham during International Freshers’ Week and was welcomed by my college. College life has fantastic support and opportunities for international students, and I personally could not have felt more welcome. Similarly, the Durham Students Union also has an International Student’s Association that puts on several events and support sessions throughout the year.  My experience of assimilating within the university was swift and has now allowed me to feel that Durham is my home.

Olivia Smith

Discover more

Combined Honours in Social Sciences provides flexibility and choice across Durham’s breadth of world-renowned research-led education, allowing you to create a bespoke, academically ambitious degree programme suited to your individual interests, strengths and career plans. More information is here.

Ammar Alhady, Menglin Luo, Zhanyan Dong and Olivia Smith

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