Penny Ireland

Penny is studying for a Master of Arts in Politics and International Relations.


“Something I love about Politics and International Relations is its diversity and the way it links with and flows into other disciplines.

“During my time at the University of Auckland I have developed a keen interest in several areas such as public policy, democratic theory, democratisation, political philosophy, state-society relations, social justice and gender.

“Postgraduate study has allowed me to really sink my teeth into some of these areas and critically engage with them. The staff in Politics and International Relations have been incredibly encouraging, both while I was studying for my Bachelor of Arts and my BA (Hons). Their guidance and support contributed significantly to my decision to begin my masters.

“It also helps that I have a love for researching and writing.

“I am looking at Special Economic Zones in India as part of a broader push for economic liberalisation and growth, and whether or not there is a relationship between this and the quality of democracy. In particular, I am researching issues surrounding democratic accountability and responsiveness.

“I recently spent two months in India that really helped to galvanise my interest in this topic. India’s Special Economic Zones have become a major point of contention, facing opposition at numerous levels. This opposition has varied in form, intensity and duration across the country. My hope is that my thesis will help illuminate the factors contributing to these differences, but also, that it will have broader significance in terms of understanding the implications of policy change and the nature of democratic governance in India.

“Postgraduate study is a far more intimate experience than undergraduate study, and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to work more closely with Politics and International Relations staff. This intimacy has meant that I have developed a close group of friends who have been wonderful in terms of support and providing an extra sounding board for bouncing ideas around.

“I would encourage potential postgraduate students to take the plunge. Postgraduate study is such a rewarding experience. Contact members of academic staff (they’re all really approachable!), talk to them about your interests, and find out whose research interests match your own. There are so many possibilities for study out there, some of which you may have never even considered before.”


Find out more about studying Politics and International Relations.