Labour of love for political graduate Barry

An aspiring North East politician believes that the academic freedom his course afforded him went a long way to securing his First Class Honours degree from RGU.

Barry BlackBarry Black (22) graduated alongside his classmates with a BA (Hons) in Applied Social Sciences at a ceremony at Aberdeen’s His Majesty’s Theatre on Thursday 13 July.

The former St Machar Academy pupil chose to follow his higher education dreams and study at RGU as the breadth of disciplines available on the degree appealed to him at a time when his prospects were at a crossroads.

Barry said: “When I was at school, I really enjoyed history and modern studies and was encouraged by my family and teachers to pursue these fields at university.

“Though I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do post-university, what really appealed to me about the Applied Social Sciences degree and the way RGU’s academic staff approach it is the sheer variety of topics it covers. It allows people like me who are keeping their options open to gain a real bedrock of experience and skills which can then be taken further.”

Not only did his early years at RGU give Barry a breadth of knowledge, but this approach to social science gave him the freedom to tailor his studies and research into areas that piqued his interest.

He said: “I was given the chance to conduct my own independent research into real life situations, rather than solely focusing on theory, which was a real highlight.

“For example, my dissertation was based on examining health inequality in India, which allowed me to combine my most stimulating academic topic with a country I found fascinating after volunteering there for a summer between first and second year.”

Barry can now look back on his RGU achievements with understandable pride after his hard work secured a First Class Honours degree, however his time at university has been notable for another reason.

While undertaking his studies, he became active in politics and ran as a Labour candidate for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine in both the 2015 and 2017 General Elections.

Having increased his share of the vote and completing his degree, Barry is looking forward to further exciting challenges in the future.

He said: “I certainly didn’t expect to stand in an election while at university – let alone two – and I’ll remain heavily active going forward. I am also set to start a Masters in Sociology and Research Methods in Glasgow, so I can continue to develop my academic strengths.

“I am really grateful for my incredible time at RGU and the impact it has had on me and my friends. I have met some fantastic people – both students and staff – and the four years raced by. This degree also helped boost my political interests, so I can honestly say I have loved every second of my time as an RGU student.”


Release by Jonathon Milne
Communications Officer | Health and Sport
Press and Media Enquiries