About you

"I am Greg Stark and I am 28. I am originally from Glenrothes in Fife but have been living in Edinburgh since 2006 when I originally enrolled as a student at QMU.

"I completed the first and second years of a Sociology and Cultural Studies degree at QMU, but decided to withdraw in 2008 due to personal issues. I then started working full-time and began a career as a Retail Compliance Manager with Tesco in 2013. After working with Tesco for nine and a half years, I made a joint decision with the support of my wife to return to QMU, complete my degree and move into the voluntary sector. This is something I’d always wanted to do.

"Thanks to the support and encouragement of my Academic Adviser at QMU, I am now studying BSc (Hons) Public Sociology and I am in Year Three. I also spent part of my studies on exchange at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania in the USA."

How did you come to choose this course and why QMU?

"I originally came to QMU in 2006 as I had always wanted to move to Edinburgh. I attended the Corstorphine campus for my first year and moved to the new Musselburgh campus half way through my second year. The new facilities and prospects drew me in. When I chose to return, I was offered the chance to return as an associate student while I worked full-time and in turn I could directly enter Year Three. This was a major factor into returning to QMU."

Why did you choose to study in Edinburgh?

"Coming from Fife, Edinburgh was always somewhere I visited when I was younger. Whether to watch Scotland play rugby at Murrayfield, watch my local team travel to Easter Road or Tynecastle or spend days taking in the culture with my family — it’s always somewhere I’ve loved to be. Edinburgh is the greatest city in the world. I’m not shy to tell anyone that. Where else in the world can you stand on the main shopping street and see a castle on top of a volcano.

You can have breakfast in the city, have a picnic up the Pentland hills and then stroll along the beach at night. It truly is an amazing place. After living here for eleven years, I’m proud to call Edinburgh my home."

What’s been the highlight of the course so far?

I took the ‘Poverty and Social Exclusion’ module as an associate student in 2016 and felt honoured to be learning from academics that have done so much vital social research in the field of workers’ rights and conditions and I now have the honour of learning from experts in their respective fields every day.

"I enjoy doing presentations in class, which not only helped my confidence in class but also in my workplace where I try to take on additional opportunities to share my ideas. I also really enjoy writing in an academic style."

Did you study abroad as part of your QMU degree?

"I took up the opportunity to go on an exchange to Slippery Rock University, Pennsylvania, USA in 2017. A QMU lecturer back in 2008 said it would be a beneficial experience, especially as I planned to write my fourth year dissertation on disability rights and seeing how people with disabilities are treated in other societies would be of great benefit. I also found out that studying at another university would help me get into government work or academia in the future.

"While at Slippery Rock, I volunteered my services to the Department of Disabilities on campus, attended presentations for Black History Month and joined the debate on President Trump’s Executive Order to enforce a travel ban on selected citizens from the Middle East and North Africa.

"The most enjoyable thing about living and studying in the USA is the opportunity to meet new people from around the world who have now become great friends.

 Any top tips for students who might be interested in this course?

"Public sociology is a fascinating subject. You would be surprised that you study it every day. Whether you’re asking your manager at work when your next pay rise is coming, you’re debating about recent elections and referendums or you’re in a bar talking to your friends, this is public sociology.

"We learn why the world works in the strange way it does. We ask why do we communicate in the way that we do and what do we need to change to make the world a better place. The one thing you need to know if you want to study in this field is that you can work with people – people of all cultures, religious, socio-economic groups and sexual orientations. We want to produce literature and carry out vital research that will inform policy makers to make changes that benefit everyone. That is what public sociology means to me."

Any future plans after graduation?

"I currently work for a voluntary organisation based in Edinburgh called The Action Group. I work within the Real Jobs department, which aims to support those in our society with additional support needs and meaningful employment. Postgraduate study is something I’d like to consider in the future, but in the long term, I hope to complete more work in the voluntary sector and one day move into work with the Scottish Government. A social policy adviser would be an ideal role for me but I wouldn’t discount a job that supported Scotland’s position outside the UK."


Greg’s Blog

To hear more from Greg and his experiences on exchange at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania in the USA, visit: starkedinburgh.wordpress.com

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"I have the honour of learning from experts in their respective fields everyday at QMU."
Greg Stark


Story Published 2017 - 2018

Psychology and Sociology

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