Skip to content

Lydia Davies

MA Peace, Conflict and Development Studies

  • Project Development Intern at ACTED
  • Role focuses on the planning and implementation of humanitarian relief and development projects across Iraq
  • Chose Bradford due to the reputation of Peace Studies and the variety of course modules
Lydia Davies, MA Peace, Conflict and Development Studies Graduate

Current role

"I found my current role through the website ‘reliefweb’, which is used by development organisations globally to post a range of roles from volunteer to managerial level. The role itself focuses on the planning and implementation of humanitarian relief and development projects across Iraq.

"My main responsibilities include proposal writing, contract follow up and donor relations – ensuring that contractual obligations are being fulfilled and the programme is being implemented on schedule. Furthermore, the role involves writing periodic reports to keep relevant parties up to date with the progress of activities and evaluative reports to summarise the outcomes of projects.

"The requirements for this role were a postgraduate degree in international relations or related fields and previous work experience with specific reference to proposal writing and donor relations. I applied for this position whilst completing a different internship with an intergovernmental organisation in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The process involved two interviews and a technical assessment and took around a month but Covid-19 meant waiting a few months before a formal offer could be given.

"This also meant deployment was delayed by a number of months whilst the airports in Iraq remained closed. Travel was eventually possible via a World Food Programme flight which enabled development workers to move in and out of the country on non-commercial flights. The pros of this position are definitely the level of responsibility given to interns as it was a much more demanding role than other internships I have previously completed. The organisation also offer a living allowance and paid for travel making this an affordable opportunity to take."

The role felt like a natural progression from my Master's, as the topics I studied directly transcended into the requirements of it. Specifically, I wrote my Master's thesis on the role of water scarcity on the rise of extremist sectarian sentiment in both Iraq and Syria. Now, some of the projects I am involved in are repairing the same water infrastructure I was writing about 12 months prior.

Choosing Bradford

"I chose to come to Bradford for a number of reasons. Primarily, having lived abroad during my childhood I was passionate about pursuing a career in the development sector. After completing my undergraduate degree and searching tirelessly for internship opportunities, it became apparent quickly that Master's level education was a prerequisite for many of the roles I was interested in.

"When it came to choosing a university to study at, the reputation of peace studies at Bradford was a huge selling point. The variety of course modules was particularly attractive to me as it allowed a lot of emphasis on security studies whilst also teaching the essentials of development work. I was able to effectively specialise the degree into things that I found particularly interesting and avoid repetition of academic content I had studied during my undergraduate degree in International Relations and Modern History."

Lydia Davies, MA Peace, Conflict and Development Studies Graduate

Student experience

"My experience of Bradford was incredibly positive. The diversity on the course was incredible, and the shared lived experiences amongst the students was as much of a valuable learning experience as the course content itself. My main advice to any prospective or current students in this regard would be to be as involved in the extra-curricular activities with your peers as possible. The connections and potential pathways that may open through those friendships are easily just as valuable as the formal qualification.

"I would love to return at some point in the future to pursue further study at PhD level in the field of water security, but as I graduated from my MA just after I turned 22, I was very keen to spend a few years ‘in the field’ before committing to several more years spent in full-time education."

My first position was unpaid. However, after applying for financial internship support from Bradford, I was able to take the role. The funding I received from Bradford was crucial in making this first opportunity a feasible step in my career.

Finding work

"Following completion of my studies at Bradford, it took a few months to find my first position. It can be a time consuming and disheartening process, with lots of failed applications often without feedback and I probably sent somewhere in the region of 15-20 applications before one organisation offered me a position.

"I think my advice for current students applying for roles would be perseverance, as it only takes one company or organisation to take a chance on you. I would also say to refine your CV and cover letter – I really noticed a difference in the amount of responses I got when neither my cover letter or CV were longer than a page. You should be super concise and keep only that which is relevant to that particular role."