Sara was unable to fund her postgraduate studies and was just about to defer her entry so she had longer to save up. Fortunately, as a result of her PGT Scholarship, Sara is now enrolled on Cardiff University’s MA in Creative Writing.
Can you tell us a little bit about the programme in your own words?
“My MA in Creative Writing is a full-time taught programme made up of a group of 13 students of all ages from all kinds of backgrounds. The lecturers – all published writers – strive to make the environment intellectually challenging while keeping it informal and comfortable for student participation. The staff/student ratio is very high, giving all of the students many opportunities for one on one sessions and the chance to have their writing seen by more than one member of staff. We also receive lectures from visiting writers on a regular basis, followed by an open mic night in which staff, students and the writer in question are all involved.”
What did the Postgraduate Taught Scholarship mean to you?
“To me it meant everything – a chance to really achieve what I wanted to do. I had recently started a job which I planned to use to support myself during the course but, unfortunately, due to the timing of the job, I would not have had enough funding to make the first fee payment. I was on the verge of deferring my entry until next year when I learned I had received the Scholarship, so it was incredibly important to me. I feel very lucky and very privileged to have been given the chance to study at Cardiff again.”
Have you been able to secure funding from other places, how else are you supporting your studies?
“As mentioned before, I am currently supporting myself with part-time work – it makes for a very full schedule and I don’t have much time for myself, but I knew I would have to work hard to support myself when I applied for the programme. Knowing I’ll get the degree at the end of all of the hard work makes it worthwhile.”
What were your motivations for undertaking a postgraduate degree?
“Having studied English Literature at Cardiff previously, I had already been given the chance to involve myself with creative writing modules. The enthusiasm of the tutors, along with a huge passion for what I consider to be an underrated academic area pushed me to apply at a postgraduate level. Many writers find it difficult to justify their writing, and I decided that I would finally take that plunge and study it seriously in the hope that it will benefit me in the future.”
Why did you decide to do your postgraduate degree at Cardiff?
“I had already studied at Cardiff for four years with my undergraduate degree, so for me there could be no other option as to where to study. The members of staff are briliant and I had already fallen in love with the city, and the programme in particular really struck me as unique. A year of studying my passion with a select group of writers isn’t something likely to happen again in my life, so I’m trying to involve myself in the course as much as possible.”
Is there anything about your postgraduate course that has stood out in your experience?
“The friendships I’ve made with the students on my course are probably the most meaningful to me. Due to having such a small number of students, everyone has gotten to know each other very well – as writers as well as people. Not only that, the programme included a writers’ retreat to Gregynog Hall in Wales where we stayed for three days, and that was also a fantastic experience. I know that, coming out of the course, I will have made a number of connections and lasting friendships with several talented writers.”
How do you think your postgraduate course will contribute to your future career plans?
“The course has opened up a number of options for me – some of them completely unexpected. I already knew that the course would benefit my applying for a job in the literary world (at a publishing house, for instance) but the MA also involved a visit from a literary agent and utilises a teaching module. Now I have a number of routes I might take: writing as a profession, taking part in the publishing world or even becoming a creative writing teacher.”
Has studying for a postgraduate degree at Cardiff University lived up to your expectations?
“Definitely. Having already been at the university as part of my undergraduate degree, I eased into postgraduate study seamlessly, and it has lived up to all of the expectations I had. I love Cardiff both as a city and as a place to study, and being able to narrow my study down to an area I enjoy so much, in a place I find so comfortable and welcoming, has been an unforgettable experience.”
What are your biggest achievements as a postgraduate student at Cardiff University so far?
“So far in the course, I believe I have made many achievements both as a solo writer and as part of my course group. I succeeded in completing my second novel as of November 2013 thanks, in large part, to the support of my fellow students, and the course has made me think about writing as a profession in an entirely new way. As a group we students have started a ‘group blog’ endeavour to increase our online presence, but we are also contributing to many university-oriented projects – the Creativity magazine, for instance, along with a book club and several write-ins for students eager to dedicate some time to their own writing.”
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