Bristol or York for Politics & International Relations?

(205 Posts)
MilouSnowy Sat 22-Feb-20 08:58:53

Bristol or York for Politics & International Relations?

London state school DN cannot make up her mind. Bristol (the city) would be the easier choice as it’s just London-lite, her words, not mine.
But she doesn’t want to make an important decision on the basis of just
lifestyle, at the same time she knows next to nothing about York, or how competitive the course is in Uni of York.

Not visited York.

She is very independent. Has quite an impressive CV already, for a 17 year old student.

She is desperate for an offer from LSE but that’s their most competitive course so she is trying to psych herself up to leave London.

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ArriettyJones Sat 22-Feb-20 09:21:39

In terms of being “London-light”, I wouldn’t make that much of a distinction between Bristol and York, TBH.

I am a Londoner, I know both the other cities moderately well, and I am just not seeing it (other than in drive/train time from London and the difference is only about an hour).

Both Bristol and York have changed considerably in the past ten years. She really needs to go and look.

lostinleaves Sat 22-Feb-20 09:27:23

I wouldn't say either of them are London Light tbh.

MilouSnowy Sat 22-Feb-20 10:16:46

Thank you Arriety, and btw, I adore Studio Ghibli. Pls ignore that if your name has nothing to do with Arriety the film.

By Bristol = London-Lite, I think she is referring to the cafe-society lifestyle. She thinks she could live in Halls in Clifton which are all self-catered but that she could get away with not having to ever cook for herself, just grab coffee and salads from cafes and spend her time in the library and volunteering with communities in Bristol. She is not a partying/clubbing/drugs/smoking kind of girl. She is good natured and easy going and thinks she would be fine in York too (funny given she has never visited York).

Can you tell me anything about quality of the course at York? Is York city as big as Bristol? In London, DN helps out at various enrichment programmes for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds - has founded a few initiatives herself and recruited professionals from the City to get involved. Not sure she'd get these type of opportunities in York but the assumption is yes she would in Bristol.

Some people on mumsnet seem fond of posting that state school kids prefer to be self-catered in Bristol bc they like it that way. Not sure this is true. I'd say state school and international students in Bristol choose Clifton and City Halls inspite of the self-catering, not because of it. They want to be near the library and the lecture halls.

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MilouSnowy Sat 22-Feb-20 10:17:51


How are they different from London please?

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Piggywaspushed Sat 22-Feb-20 10:51:14

Your DD sounds great! York has a good reputation for politics : has for a long time.

York is beautiful, but perhaps a bit provincial, although it would be wrong to say there aren't pockets of disadvantage.

The acclaimed Joseph Rowntree Foundation is York based. She might want to look into them and their work as it sounds up her street.

Piggywaspushed Sat 22-Feb-20 10:52:00

ps should have mentioned that, for a top tier uni, York has a highish state school intake.


Piggywaspushed Sat 22-Feb-20 10:55:49

I found this:

Xenia Sat 22-Feb-20 11:09:10

I know both. 2 of my children are at Bristol and my daughter also went there. However I am from the NE and I have a siblng who lives near York and I know it quite well too. I do prefer Bristol academically and for other reasons and is closer to London. York for some reason did not offer one of the degrees 2 of my children wanted to read for a start but certainly my daughter's friend went there and loved it and did well after - London lawyer (like my Bristol daughter).

If you want to learn to mix with others and you have just been at a state school if York has more state school pupils than Bristol that might be a reason to go to Bristol to mix with a wider group of people.... I am sure she will do well at either however.

samlovesdilys Sat 22-Feb-20 11:18:35

York always was campus based whilst Bristol is more city based...that would be a clear distinction fir me and a good way to judge...what housing fo each offer first years?? Is there a club/sport one offers more than other? How is the course structured? Does yr1 count? Coursework/dissertation vs exams? Opportunities to work? Graduate schemes?
But honestly, both are really solid choices, I would visit both and see which 'feels' better! Good luck!!

ArriettyJones Sat 22-Feb-20 11:20:23

Sorry, dashing now, but to address a couple of those questions; I think York is about half the size of Bristol (but it’s not clear cut).

York students often seem to spend time in Leeds one way or the other, be it clubbing, working, volunteering or what have you. In fact I would look at what’s in Bath when you consider Bristol (they’re conjoined) and Leeds when you consider York, to see what those adjacent cities bring to the experience (be it culture, nightlife, opportunities or facilities of whatever type).

Plenty of cafe society in York. No idea about catered halls. if anything Bristol is “clubbier” than York.

There is poverty in York and smaller projects tackling that as well as Rowntree organisations (famously). See also Leeds again. She should also look at the widening participation/mentoring schemes the unis currently run.

I can’t comment on the IR course itself.

Nowhere is really like London. York and Bristol both have strong unique identities. So dropping that way of looking at it and building on the checklist you have outlined is a better way.

And yes I’m named for the film (and the book) smile

Good luck!

ArriettyJones Sat 22-Feb-20 11:28:45

Oh and (from memory) York uni has privately educated students making up about 20% of their student body. Equivalent figure for Bristol is about 40%. So compare that to 7% of the population privately educated and make of it what you will.

Piggywaspushed Sat 22-Feb-20 11:29:20

In my whole time at York , I never went to Leeds!

That said, Leeds of a great city and easy to get to from York. One of York's advantages is its ease of travel to other places.

The league tables place York and Bristol pretty close for politics (this is CUG) , both top 20 . There are plenty of unis higher than both. Not sure if you have had a look? Sheffield sticks out on the list as the city based uni in the top 10 , outside of London.

Decorhate Sat 22-Feb-20 11:38:13

I really think she needs to visit York before making a decision. The two places have a very different feel to me. Yes the course content & reputation are important but they also have to like where they are going to live.

MilouSnowy Sat 22-Feb-20 13:31:27

Thank you everyone for the valuable input. Much appreciated.

A lot to consider and do and top of that list is a visit to York and the surrounding area, including Leeds.

Piggywaspushed, DN says the history of Joseph Rowntree is part of the reason she applied to York! Also that she wants to visit a model village called New Earwick (not sure what the significance of this is, I'm guessing it's linked to the JR Foundation? - I will google in a moment).

How interesting she thought York would be the place where she learns to mix with different people but I am not so sure now, could be counterintuitive and actually Bristol is that place, not Yorksmile

Also no idea why she didn't think of Sheffield. Bath is the other offer she holds. Nothing yet from LSE or UCL.

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Piggywaspushed Sat 22-Feb-20 13:59:51

Oh, I see that she has her offers!

These are all very good unis.

What does she mean by 'different people' , out of curiosity!?

MilouSnowy Sat 22-Feb-20 14:37:17

Yes, she has offers from Bristol, York and Bath.

What does she mean by 'different people' , out of curiosity!?

Just that she thought York would be full of private school kids but now I understand York is 80% state school. She is in a state school.

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Hoghgyni Sat 22-Feb-20 14:43:20

Perhaps she means "northerners"!

York's campus is outside of the city centre, so it may not have the cafe culture she is hoping for. The campus itself has the usual refectories for students, but many of the halls are self catering with facilities for around 10-15 in each flat. I don't know anything about Bristol.

DD is holding an offer for politics joint honours at York & the department is strong. However, I found that there was a lot of emphasis on opportunities linked to the finance world when they were discussing career paths which may not be to everyone's taste. You can take one year of your degree overseas, transferring the credits so you still graduate in 3 years.

All universities have student community action groups, so there will be stacks to get involved in where ever she goes. As it sounds as though she is very London-centric, so the best advice I can give is to attend offer holder days at both to decide where she would feel most comfortable.

Piggywaspushed Sat 22-Feb-20 15:06:32

York has actually 18% private. Surely this is good? Or at least, better than many like it.

Bristol is trying to meet various targets for widening participation, but not massively succeeding yet.

Does she feel she needs to mix with the elite to gain her place at top table? Odd for someone invested in engagement and social mobility! (Apologies! My Marxist teeth are itching ! )

Hoghgyni Sat 22-Feb-20 15:30:43

Not all state schools are equal. The school DD attended is full of the children of medics, lawyers, accountants etc whilst another has a huge proportion of children on FSM. She can broaden her horizons at York or Bristol. I'd be more concerned about the course and whether she feels as though she will enjoy her time there, rather than who she may or may not be mixing with.

MilouSnowy Sat 22-Feb-20 16:06:49

Yes, DN wants to broaden her horizons (that's in the event she does not get into LSE or UCL). She reckons if she has to leave London she might as well turn that into an opportunity to mix with people she normally wouldn't meet from the rest of the country, so yes that might mean northerners.

She also for some reason (not evidence-based) thought York would be full of students from small villages across the UK and a particular private school student who avoids big cities like London (and Bristol?) and these two categories of students are exactly who wants to meet. So not just any private school student.

She is unsure about Bristol bc she thinks it has a similar crowd to London.

She is not interested in finance.

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MilouSnowy Sat 22-Feb-20 16:21:33

Does she feel she needs to mix with the elite to gain her place at top table? Odd for someone invested in engagement and social mobility! (Apologies! My Marxist teeth are itching ! )

Pls don't apologise, it's a fair question.

No. Not at all. I think she would just prefer a different environment to what she is used to. She has lived in London all her life.

LSE is her dream uni for that course but if she ends up at Bristol or York she wants to carry out a comparative study of underperforming communities (students) from those cities and London. I mean in her own time.

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MilouSnowy Sat 22-Feb-20 16:27:02

Not underperforming at university but in schools.

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Hoghgyni Sat 22-Feb-20 16:48:15

I don't wish to seem rude, but she seems to be making a lot of assumptions about other areas of the country whilst knowing little about them. Her best bet is to actually visit and see if she thinks she will fit in. It's going to be impossible for her to decide based on the views of adults on MN rather than getting the feel of each place in person.

MilouSnowy Sat 22-Feb-20 17:03:42

Hoghgyni I don't think you are being rude, I have said pretty much the same thing to her already.

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