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Sustainable Development Goals: Becky's Study & Work Experience

By Rebecca Woodcock

Becky, a third-year student in Politics, shares her internship experience at the Global Challenges Academy.

An ‘incredible place’ to learn about the UN Sustainable Development Goals

I applied for an internship with Newcastle University’s Global Challenges Academy (GCA) firstly due to the wide scope of research the University is conducting into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).



The SDGs are a global ‘blue print’ for tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges such as poverty, hunger and climate change.  

It was encouraging to see academics coming together across the entire University to tackle the challenges we face in a sustainable manner. I was impressed by the work of the Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub and the Living Deltas Hub.

They are tackling multiple goals related to water, including goals 1-no poverty, 2-zero hunger, 3-health & well being, 5-gender equality and 6-clean water & sanitation.

The 2019 Global Challenges Summit at Newcastle University


Being able to see the impact of the University’s work across Europe, Africa and Asia on the impact map further encouraged my application. I could be sure that my internship with the GCA would have an impact across the globe, as well as locally.

I think Newcastle is an incredible place to learn about sustainable development, as you can have both the academic experience and the chance to increase your skill set through internships in the area.


As an intern for the Global Challenges Academy I have witnessed firsthand how the SDGs affect communities in a research setting alongside my academic experience.


For example, as a lead on the GCA’s Rapid Response Fund, I have been able to see firsthand how it assists academic researchers across the University to achieve a lasting impact.

This has expanded my knowledge of the SDGs beyond just those I have studied myself. It has also opened my eyes to scientific research I would never have usually come into contact with, such as engineering and chemistry research.

It started with my course in Politics

As a politics student, I have had lots of opportunities to interact with the UN SDGs within my course.

In my module the Politics of Africa, we discussed the impact the SDGs have on communities. We also learned about how the latest goals separate themselves from neo-colonialist policies of the past like structural adjustment loans.


gender equality


This spurred my interest in the SDGs as I saw in an academic context what the goals were achieving, such as the exceptional gender parity in Rwanda’s parliament.


Within my own research, SDG 5 - Gender Equality, has been the most prevalent goal I have explored.


My third-year dissertation has focused on gender equality in the UK, understanding how regional difference affects a woman’s ability to progress her career.

Although many people may believe the United Kingdom already has high levels of gender parity due to legislation in place such as The Equality Act in 2010, it appears this legislation does not translate into actuality.

I discovered that in the North East of England, men are 15% more likely to hold CEO and director positions in companies than women. In the South East of England, this figure increases to 32.8%.

Statistics like these are something the SDGs are working to change, not only in the UK but across the whole world in both developed and developing countries.

Bringing it all together for postgraduate study

I have appreciated my time studying the SDGs as an undergrad and intern that next year I will be studying for an MA in International Politics (Development).


I am so grateful that Newcastle’s course options allow me to combine my love for politics and development, and that I have not had to compromise on my passions.


I can’t wait to explore the SDGs in more depth. I expect to write my dissertation on the impact of the SDGs on sex trafficked women from developing countries.

When writing my masters dissertation, I know I will be thoroughly supported by the countless academics and researchers who have excellent knowledge of the SDGs and gender politics.

I’m extremely excited to continue my education journey with the backing of Newcastle University and its Global Challenges Academy!


Find out more about degrees in Politics at Newcastle University

Learn more about Newcastle's Global Challenges Academy  


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