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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


James Buckley

James Buckley
James Buckley
Doing Now
Financial Services Authority (London)

MSc IEP 2008-09

My name is James Buckley. I grew up in Kent in the South East of England, before moving to Brighton to complete my undergraduate degree, and then to London where I worked for about eight years. For six of those years I was a journalist covering a range of business issues, from pensions through to credit cards. I then moved into research and consultancy for banks, before deciding that I wanted to move into politics and policy, which led me to the Edinburgh IEP course.

Why did you decide to do the IEP degree?

Having realised that legislation and EU politics rather than quarterly profit margins was what most interested me, I cast around for a course and university that I thought would offer me a well respected qualification in a city where I could also take some great memories away with me, rather than just a degree certificate at the end. I also was wary of choosing a course that was very specifically focused on one area, since I still wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to do. The IEP course was thus very appealing, being based in Edinburgh - a city I had heard many good things about - and being very broad in nature allowing me to choose a diverse range of modules. It wasn't the cheapest course on offer, but the draw of moving to Edinburgh and the scope of the course swung it for me.

What were your best memories?

The large majority of the students on the IEP course come straight from an undergraduate degree, and in that respect I was in the minority. I had initially been somewhat disappointed about this as I had hoped to be learning as much from the other students based on their experiences as from the lecturers. Nonetheless this proved to be less of an issue than feared because what they lacked in experience they made up for in diversity of ideas and opinions - IEP attracts students from around the world. They are all bright, friendly and resourceful, and getting to know them was one of the best memories I have. I went on to work with several of them in Brussels.

Other great memories are of exploring the beauty and culture of Scotland, particularly the Highlands and the whisky, respectively. I also have great memories of the Meadows on a sunny day, playing golf on the ancient links course next to the university, and - of course - the Edinburgh festival in August.

What is it that you do now and did the degree help in your career path?

I currently work for the UK Financial Services Authority focusing upon the implementation of Basel III rules. Prior to the spring of 2011, I worked as a parliamentary assistant for a British politician in the European Parliament. That work principally revolved around providing policy advice in relation to economic and financial services issues, though also wider political and PR work. My MSc very much helped me get the job: I first made contact with the MEP I now work for as part of a series of interviews I conducted for my dissertation. We stayed in contact and I eventually persuaded him to employ me. Without the MSc it would have been very difficult to get the position. Competition for jobs in Brussels is very high, almost everyone has a Masters degree at least. If you can structure the modules you take while on IEP to target a particular line of work, and focus your dissertation in a similar area, you can greatly increase your job prospects.

How did you like Edinburgh as a city?

Edinburgh is a compact, historic, vibrant city with lots of green areas. While probably not as exciting in terms of diversity as other capital cities, it boasts a strong quality of life thanks to easy access to great countryside. There are good cinemas, good pubs, lots of sporting possibilities, and the beautiful backdrop of Arthur's Seat. Accommodation is not too expensive, and the locals are a very friendly bunch. What's not to like? (Answer: the weather).