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    Right so I have received offers from Nottingham, Southampton and Exeter for International Relations. Unfortunately my preferred university rejected me (Durham) but I'm not complaining, weak GCSE's (D/C's) and a BTEC and I have three top universities offering me a place although of course I am disappointed.

    The problem I have is that of my three chosen universities, none really overly impressed me during the offer holder days (Enough to immediately win me over) and all have very different strengths.

    Southampton is the weakest in terms of IR performance but they gave me the best feeling - I could see myself there I really enjoyed the presentations offered by the staff and they were extremely approachable, the university is also introducing a Major-Minor system which would allow me to incorporate my other area of interest into the degree, Human Geography . They have an overall strong reputation internationally although they are better known for their engineering and computer sciences than the social sciences. I also have an older brother there and have visited a few times before so the place feels safe to me which could provide some useful emotional support during my first year and as I am not very sociable, I am unlikely to have friends to support me instead.

    Exeter has the strongest national reputation in general - although internationally it is far weaker. The university itself felt warm and was attractive. Staff were helpful and I had a good chat with one of the lecturers there. The actual presentations at the visit day were very weak and the lecture was only 10 or so minutes long. There are a wide-range of modules to choose from but they are not as exciting as Southamptons or Nottinghams although core-modules are very well balanced. Exeter is also offering me a 1000 pound scholarship if I make them my firm choice. The course includes a year-abroad although I'm not sure how id fund it. Devon is beautiful although I'm not sure about Exeter itself.

    Nottingham has perhaps the best international reputation and its IR course is as strong as Exeters but has slightly more modules to choose from. The campus was stunning at least the half where IR will take place. The students and staff were all really helpful and accommodating, they even ran a self-catered tour for me after hours (I only got the university in 2.45 so missed the morning and lunch tours). The city itself was not bad (Lots of old buildings which I like) and transport links seem to be great. If I were to choose Nottingham id try to get a transfer to the MSci International Relations and Global Issues which would include a year abroad and allow me to gain an undergraduates masters so I could either completely skip an MA and complete a PhD or explore another field with my MA (If I can find funding). The MSci is not guaranteed as there are only 25 places to begin with but they asked me to contact them about a possible transfer. My main worry with Nottingham is that it seems to be a university on its way down were-as Exeter is rapidly climbing and Soton stagnant. I'm also slightly concerned by the crime-rate of Nottingham but then again I have lived in places that probably see more crime per day than the whole of Nottingham sees in a year.

    Anyway if you bothered to read all that what's your opinion? Nottingham seems like the most balanced but then again Exeter has a lot to offer as does Devon (I love the country-side, born in Dorset so it feels more like home) but jobs might be scarce were-as Nottingham and Southampton are in fairly large cities and well-connected so finding student work and graduate work may be far easier and it won't be too hard to get home. Might also be helpful to mention I have always planned to complete a masters most likely within the EU or even further afield (Very keen on East Asia) so international reputation is fairly important to me although not essential.

    Sorry about my post, it's as much to help me work out how I feel as it is for you to reply. So apologies if its a total mess. I'm sure most will take one look and go TLDR ha-ha.

    First bit of advice - dont get obsessed with 'reputation' or 'prestige'. All of these Unis are 'good' Unis. A degree from any of them will be worth having. Despite what many students think, employers (here and overseas) dont keep a copy of University League Tables stuck on the back of the HR door for handy reference. So long as you have a good degree (First or 2.1) from a 'sensible' Uni, that's all the majority of top employers or overseas Unis are after. The nitty-gritty of which Uni is one point higher than another this year is totally irrelevant to them.

    Second bit of advice. An undergraduate MSc is just a four year undergrad degree - its isnt the equivalent of a conventional postgrad Masters. To do a research degree (PhD) you would still need to do a postgrad Masters course to be considered for a both a place & funding.

    Choose the Uni where you will be the most comfortable and the course that will hold your interest for 3 years of day-in, day-out study.
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