Where Are They Now? Interview with Luke Walker

luke-walker-photoTwenty-One year old Luke Walker, from Exmouth, came to Swansea University to study a BA(Hons) in English Language in 2013 and graduated in 2016 with a first class degree. Here’s what he had to say about his time at Swansea, when I spoke to him:

Tell me a little bit about yourself

I live in Exmouth, a seaside town in Devon. Before going to Swansea University I went to Exmouth Community College, one of the largest comprehensive schools in the country.

Why did you choose Swansea?

The variety of topics studied made the course attractive and I also liked the laidback feel of Singleton Campus and the warm sunny weather on the open day that I attended. Thankfully, the feel of the campus never changed, although the same can’t be said for the weather!

What did you enjoy most about your time at Swansea University and the degree?

I was lucky enough to take part in an internship with the Cybeterrorism Project in which I was part of a group of other Swansea students who researched the online propaganda magazines of Al-Qaeda and ISIS among other terrorist groups. We travelled to Boston and Lowell in the US to do the research at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and I was able to present my findings both in Lowell and back in Swansea later in the year. One of the things that was great about the internship was the fact that I was able to use methods that I had studied on my course in order to conduct the research, which combined the use of corpus linguistics and discourse analysis.

What were your favourite topics?

Discourse analysis and sociolinguistics

What was your dissertation on? 

My dissertation focused on further research of the online magazines of Al-Qaeda and ISIS. I investigated how impoliteness strategies were used by the terrorist groups to construct the West as ‘the Other’ – othering being the way in which an outsider group is presented in a society in a manner that degrades and distances it from that society. I used a corpus-assisted discourse studies approach to my dissertation – a methodology which combines aspects of corpus linguistics and discourse studies.

What are you doing now? 

Currently, I am taking a gap year before attending a Masters course at the University of Exeter in MA Applied Security Strategy. The course combines the study of theory as well as applied elements in the form of crisis simulation. I am very much looking forward to starting next year.

How do you think the degree prepared you for your job/further study?

Getting used to working to deadlines and doing presentations are all parts of the course that I expect that they will be beneficial to me going forward.

What are your plans for the future?

I am currently uncertain of the sort of job that I would like to do after I have finished my Masters, however I hope that it will be something that combines my interests in language and current affairs.

What was your best academic moment at Swansea?

I think that my best academic moment at Swansea was receiving a high mark for an assignment that I did in the second year for a lecturer who had given me a mark that wasn’t my best on an assignment in the first year. I had struggled on the assignment in the first year and it was fantastic to know that my academic ability was improving. It gave me a lot of confidence.

How did you feel on graduation day?

I remember feeling very proud to have been a part of Swansea University and enjoyed graduating with friends from the course as well as my friend from my halls in the first year.

What did you like about Swansea University and the department?

The lecturers are all very friendly and willing to discuss topics from the course both in class and after. I think that that can help a lot in developing a good understanding of what we study – especially where the topic relates to an assignment.

Any tips for our students in their final year?

Although early on it can seem like there’s loads of time to do your dissertation, it’s amazing how quickly it can all seem to evaporate when you start being given assignments from other modules to do – particularly when it comes to the part of the year when you’re likely to be writing it! So I would say to make sure that you start researching your topic for your literature review as early as you can, a little bit at a time and it should make it easier for you with time later on.

If you could go back to your first year self, what advice would you give about studying English language?

Don’t get too caught up in looking at your marks in the first year – nobody expects that you’ll be a linguistic genius from the word go! I think that if I’d spent less time worrying about marks and more time focusing on the feedback from exams and assignments on how to improve then I’d have spent the year less stressed and come into the second year with a clearer idea of how to do assignments and exams.

What’s your favourite word and why?

“Lunch”, because I like its connotations!