Benjamin Fullarton – Best of both worlds


When Ben came to ANU, he was not very sure what to study. Three and half years later, he completed his Master of International Relations with zero regrets. For him, Master of International Relations offered the best of both worlds – teaching and research.

The decision to do postgraduate study at ANU in the Bell School was pretty easy. Obviously, the reputation is fantastic, and it really stands out. I felt very fortunate to be able to study at ANU, and I still do.

However, three and half years ago Master of International Relations graduand Ben was not so sure about what to study for his postgraduate degree. He bounced around a few different options - thinking about political science or Middle Eastern studies. Ben started studying a Graduate Diploma of International Affairs, but soon realised that he wanted to do a full master’s degree.

The International Relations program has just been so fantastic, and the lecturers were so good - ultimately that was where I landed. Yeah, zero regrets about that.

Postgraduate study has been both a challenging and rewarding experience for Ben. He found himself engaging with complex topics, not only for the purpose of learning the content, but also for developing his own opinions and insights, and applying them in real-world scenarios.

A few courses stand out for Ben. He considers Democracy and its Discontents taught by Prof Edward Aspinall as one of the finest courses at ANU. He thinks it’s an awesome introductory course that was phenomenal at relating high-level concepts to real-world events.

Another favourite course for him was Evolution of the International System taught by Prof Luke Glanville and Dr Benjamin Zala, which offered a “fantastic walk-through of the history of International Relations that really encouraged us to question and re-think many of the assumptions we take for granted.”

Ben also wants to give a shout-out to Dr Sarah Logan who taught Global Security. "It was hugely interesting and covered a diverse mix of different areas and topics, from a range of different perspectives – it really locked in for me that studying security was something I wanted to do a lot more of."

While studying part-time, Ben was also working full-time at the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, and found the study at the Bell School relevant and helpful for the job. Ben’s thesis looks at climate migration coming from the Pacific region and how Australia perceives it as a potential security issue. Thanks to the support from his supervisor Luke Glanville and tremendous teachers at the Bell School, Ben was able to equip himself with the research skills and academic knowledge to develop the thesis.

So too, Ben’s workplace experience was relevant and helpful for the thesis, as it gave him an insider perspective on the Australian government’s view on climate change, and how securitisation of climate migration affects people in the Pacific region, who are particularly vulnerable to climate change.

Overall, Ben had a very positive experience during his study at the Bell School,

Quite often there are people who are good at teaching, but maybe not research, and people who are good at research, but maybe not teaching. [At the Bell School] you really get the best of both worlds.

As for his plans for after graduation, Ben is in the process of applying to do a PhD at the Bell School, hoping to work on a similar topic with similar people.

Lastly, Ben emphasised his love for the atmosphere in the Hedley Bull Building. Working on a full-time basis, Ben would take one day off a week to study on campus and would spend the whole day in the IR Reading Room of the Hedley Bull Building.

Looking at all the works on the walls, other people who have gone through and contributed, and running into your lecturers and getting to talk about the big issues that we were discussing and learning about were really, really cool. I think the Headly Bull building just has a really cool energy to it! You can kind of almost feel it when you are in there.

Visit our website for more information about studying a Master of International Relations at the Bell School.


By Jiashu Fang