History graduate, Cambridge


Ben Philcox


BA (Hons) History

Year of Study:


About me:

My name is Ben, I’m 21 years old, originally from Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire, and I’ve just completed my History degree at Anglia Ruskin (Cambridge).

In addition to my full-time degree, I have also been a Senior Student Ambassador for university for the last couple of years, as well as being an active member of music societies and sports clubs. I lived in Cambridge in accommodation with a selection of friends that I met through student activities and my course. My typical week is mostly finding a balance between reading and writing for my course and the social activities that I take part in, as well as seeing my friends! My ultimate goal is to become a History Teacher in a Secondary school, something which I have taken large steps towards, having been given a place on a Teacher Training course this September, largely due to help from university.

Typical Week


I get up early, as I have a lecture at 09:00, on Spanish History. This is then normally followed by a break for a couple of hours till the seminar, so I’ll either spend time in the library doing some reading in preparation or sit with my friends in the canteen and we’ll chat about anything that came up in the lecture. Most weeks, the seminar would then be followed by a debate or a Q+A session on the module, as it was a new topic. I’d then spend the rest of the afternoon staying in uni to get some work done, either in the canteen or up in the library, as they were my preferred places to get some work done. I go to Badminton every Monday evening, and didn’t want to have to walk home and back, so I would stay till after that, then walk home with my doubles partner. Then when I got home I’d cook, possibly with one of my housemates, and make sure I had my bag ready for tomorrow.


On Tuesdays I don’t have any contact hours for my course. I normally take the opportunity to spend a large part of the day in the Music Department, being a regular guest in the Anglia Chorus and Orchestra concerts, so I go to their rehearsals. I think it’s a great opportunity, as it is a nice change from doing work for my course, and also provides me with a different social group as well. As I’m normally in university, I’d normally use the time to do some research for my projects, or for my dissertation as well. I often would go out for a meal with some of my friends in the morning as well, as I would have done a lot of work that day.


Wednesdays are the other day in the week when I don’t have any timetabled lectures or seminars, however I would often go and talk to my Personal Tutor or Dissertation Supervisor, and get feedback or advice on work I had been doing. Most weeks, I would also do some of my work as a Student Ambassador, helping with a school visit by running activities and campus tours, or going to a school to give a talk or an assembly about Student Life, and answer any of their questions about the life of a student. This would also be my evening off, catching up on some TV programmes, or relaxing in my house with the other students I live with.


And back to lectures again! Although thankfully not too early in the morning, I’d typically have three or four hours, but they would be spread out over the course of the day. The lectures would typically be on Russian History, or perhaps on the End of the British Empire. Again, the rest of the day would be spent probably doing some research for the next set of lectures and seminars, or writing some of my assignments. I personally prefer to do my work in the evenings, so I would have an early dinner, relax with a couple of friends, then settle down for a few hours of writing and planning. To end the day, I would also attend a Chamber Choir rehearsal. 


Today I would also have some lectures, on the topic of the Cold War. Today I would have more seminars than lectures, so plenty of chance for debate and for developing your own argument. In the gaps between them I would generally get on with a little more work, as I prefer getting my work done whilst in university, then when I get home I know I can relax without having the pressure of more work to do. If I had time, I would go and watch whatever was on in the Mumford Theatre at lunch or in the evening, as the events were free or discounted for students. I’d then spend the evening meeting friends, or going out for dinner or watching a film.


If I could do, I’d always start the weekend by being lazy and not getting up early, as I like my sleep. I then have quite a relaxed day, maybe meeting up with a friend, or maybe seeing my brother, as he also lives in Cambridge. I also sometimes play more Badminton or go climbing at the local sports centre. Roughly once a month, there would be an Open Day, in which case I would get up early and go and help organise that. I have been doing the work for the last two years now, and it has given me both a massive rise in self-confidence and some extra income, which is always nice to have. I’d also possibly spend the evening with some friends, or having some food out.


Another lie in, followed by any outstanding work for the week, typing up all the notes that I have written in the week, and getting prepared for seminar work at the start of the week. I’ll also spend a little bit of time relaxing from the week, recovering from doing so much and having a little bit of time just free, which is nice occasionally!