Chiara says not having to undertake part-time work, as well as the opportunity to study abroad are the key benefits of her Postgraduate Taught Scholarship. She is currently undertaking Cardiff University’s unique MA Philology and Ancient History at the School of History, Archaeology and Religion.
Can you tell us a little bit about the programme in your own words?
“The programme is mostly theoretically oriented, providing an insight on matters concerning the Greek and Roman world both from a historical and an archaeological point of view. The group of students involved is a rather small ones, but we have a wide variety of interests, which makes dialogue extremely interesting and allows for a constant exchange of perspectives and ideas. Sharing lectures and lecturers with fellow students both from the MA Ancient History and the MA Archaeology, I find myself faces on a daily basis with different approaches to the subject, and this is a very good environment to work with, as I feel that anyone willing to study ancient societies should find themselves at ease both with the tools of the historian and those of the archaeologist, as the contributions coming from these two disciplines are so tightly intertwined that they can’t always be considered separately.”
What did the Postgraduate Taught Scholarship mean to you?
“First of all, it meant having the possibility of furthering my studies abroad, in the university where I had wanted to study ever since completing my BA, without having to devote a great part of my time to working to provide for my studies. As I am fully independent from my family and I live on my private funds alone, I find that the possibility of concentrating uniquely on what I am studying is an unexpected help, and I am optimistic that my results will benefit greatly from this opportunity..”
Have you been able to secure funding from other places, how else are you supporting your studies?
“I am supporting my studies entirely from my own private funds. I have been working non-stop in the years leading to my BA and my first MA, and the funds that I had gathered have finally allowed me to attend this programme at Cardiff. As I wished to concentrate on studying only, I am particularly glad that the Postgraduate Taught Scholarship allows me to thrive without needing another part-time job.”
What were your motivations for undertaking a postgraduate degree?
“I had already gained a postgraduate taught degree with a distinction in Italy, and although I was willing to try and continue my career by pursuing a research degree, I felt that the methodology as I had learnt it was still not adequate to the path of research that I wanted to follow. As I have a strong passion about both ancient history and archaeology, and I strongly believe that outstanding results in the study of ancient society can only be achieved by combining an archaeological approach and a historical one, I wanted to study for a second postgraduate degree that could provide me with the skills necessary to attempt such an interdisciplinary approach.”
Why did you decide to do your postgraduate degree at Cardiff?
“To my knowledge, Cardiff was the only university in the UK to provide a Masters programme that combined ancient history and archaeology while being specifically centered on ancient Greek and Roman matters. This fit remarkably well with what I hoped to achieve in pursuing a second MA degree. Moreover, I had already read some materials written by scholars that are currently lecturers at Cardiff University and that I knew were involved in this programme, and having greatly appreciated their methods and their conclusions, I had very high hopes about the possibility of studying under their guidance.”
Is there anything about your postgraduate course that has stood out in your experience?
“What seems very remarkable to me, coming from a University system where there is a very strong separation between lecturers and students, even at a postgraduate level, is the sheer amount of occasions where faculty and students can meet and discuss the matters at hand in an informal setting. Many of the most interesting ideas that I am by now starting to investigate for my essays and dissertation came out during such informal conversations with faculty members and fellow students, following a research seminar or a particularly interesting class. I find that this high level of interaction is something to be treasured, as it allows a constant exchange of ideas and perspectives, which is fantastic for someone who is always looking for different points of view on the subject of their research.”
What do you think of Cardiff as a place to live as a postgraduate?
“The city, while being a capital, is still a very affordable place to live, and all amenities are within easy walking distance, which means that no time is lost in long journeys to a department or a library. The Graduate Centre has been invaluable to me, as it is, quite literally, a safe haven where one can concentrate on the work at hand away from the noise and disorder of student halls. Living close to the Students Union and Trevithick refectory is also a very good resource – I am most grateful for the reasonably priced food, and for having the Print Centre at hand when I don’t own a printer.”
How do you think your postgraduate course will contribute to your future career plans?
“I hope that completing this postgraduate programme will help me gain the necessary skills to successfully apply, and then complete, a PhD degree, as my ultimate goal is to try and achieve an academic career as a lecturer. Being at Cardiff University has helped me get in touch with potential supervisors from several other British universities, and while I do hope to be able to stay in Cardiff for a PhD, as I greatly enjoy working in this environment, I feel that thanks to the connections I gained in these months it will be much easier for me to proceed to this very important next step in my career.”
Has studying for a postgraduate degree at Cardiff University lived up to your expectations?
“Studying at Cardiff has not only met my expectations, but exceeded them. The high level of teaching is nothing short of what I had expected, and the supporting structures in the University have greatly helped with my everyday needs as a student. Most of all I am appreciating the friendly environment and the helpful, passionate attitude of the lecturers. I find that I am constantly learning things that will be useful to me in the future, and not only when I am attending a class or seminar.”
What are your biggest achievements as a postgraduate student at Cardiff University so far?
It is a bit early to decide under that respect, as my research is still ongoing, but I would say that being able to understand how to write a successful research proposal and then trying my hand at writing my dissertation may be considered my biggest achievement for this year. Having a very definite plan of what to do to write a dissertation by the end of the first semester is extremely satisfying and I am quite optimistic that future achievements will meet my hopes.
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