FOR footballer Christian Burgess, success in the classroom is as important as achievements on the football pitch.

Christian graduates from Teesside University later this year with a first class BA (Hons) history, which he completed part-time. He’s also been nominated for a national prize for his dissertation.

Christian transferred his studies from Birmingham to Teesside after his footballing career brought him to the North East when he signed for Middlesbrough Football Club. He recently signed for Peterborough United.

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He said: “Teesside University is a really good place to study. To me, education has always been important.

“My parents are both teachers and even when I was younger playing for Arsenal they always emphasised how important education was.

“I'd always acknowledged that football doesn't work out for everybody, so it was important I had education to fall back on and as I’d started my degree and completed two years at Birmingham, it was an easy decision to continue my studies when I came to Middlesbrough.”

He added: “I’d always enjoyed history in school, so it was the logical decision to go on to study something I enjoyed so I’d be more motivated. Teesside has some really interesting modules, which I’ve really enjoyed.”

Commenting on combining his football career with study and lectures, he said: “It was definitely challenging during my final year, being on loan at Hartlepool United, we had long trips away to Portsmouth, Bristol and Exeter to name a few, lots of games as well which took up a fair amount of time and took its toll physically.

“Luckily I really enjoyed the modules in my final year, which made it easier to go to the library and get work done and with a bit of organisation, I managed to get to the library most days after training, as well as on my days off and really work hard to try and do as well as I possibly could.”

Christian added: “I really enjoyed my time at Teesside University and I was really impressed with the teaching staff in the history department.

“If I had to choose the most enjoyable part of the degree course, it would be a really tough choice between the module on revolution and the state, which concentrated on political thinking during important times throughout history, and my dissertation which was on German naval expansion prior to the First World War.”

He added: “It was a pretty diverse range of people on the degree, with young people straight out of college to adults studying part-time along with a good mix of female students, which was nice as it challenged the perception of history as a male dominated subject.”

Completing the degree has also whetted Christian’s appetite for further study. He said: “I've already had a look at further options on Teesside University’s website, as well as the possibility of doing a master’s. But I'll have to wait and see where my football takes me before I can commit to that sort of challenge.

“I’d say to anyone thinking of returning to study while working that it’s definitely worth it, if you can manage to find the time. There were many people on my degree with full-time jobs and families, but still managing to find time to study and attend the evening seminars.

“The academic staff are very aware of the demands on part-time students and I found they were very helpful with any problems that arose.”

Margaret Hems, head of history in the university’s School of Arts & Media, said: “Christian has been nominated for the Royal Historical Society/History Today prize for best undergraduate dissertation. The aim of the prize is to reward quality work by undergraduates with their dissertation, which is now an integral part of most history courses.”

The winner gets a cash prize and their dissertation is published in History Today.