Pyrrha was encouraged by her tutors to apply for an MA. However, funding was a serious issue. Her Postgraduate Taught Scholarship gave her an opportunity she wouldn’t otherwise have had: the chance to study MA English Literature at Cardiff University. And was it worth it? You bet it was. Read on to find out more…
Can you tell us a little bit about the programme in your own words?
“For this course, I do two modules each term and a dissertation which I have been thinking about since I started – although technically writing the dissertation does not begin until May. There are a wide range of modules, and I enjoy the choice that allows me to design my own course.
“I have chosen to do quite analytical modules, although there is also a fortnightly, compulsory module based on critical theory. The modules are taught in weekly, two-hour seminars that allow us to pose any queries or topics we would like to discuss, and our research is guided by the module leader also. There are a range of lecture programmes that are non-compulsory but well advertised, with guest lecturers.
“Other than the contact hours in seminar rooms my study environment tends to be where I make it, generally my room or the library. There are about twenty students on the course, we see everyone weekly but otherwise there is not much interaction past what we arrange among ourselves. It is quite a mixed bunch of backgrounds and motivations.”
What did the Postgraduate Taught Scholarship mean to you?
“The Postgraduate Taught Scholarship has been tremendously important to me as it has allowed me to spend less time at my part-time job and more studying. Especially over Christmas when the essay deadline is looming, it was an enormous relief to know I did not need to take extra shifts at work as the Scholarship offers a financial security that allows me more time to focus on my course. Without the Postgraduate Taught Scholarship I doubt I would be able to do this course.”
Have you been able to secure funding from other places, how else are you supporting your studies?
“I applied for a Student Warden position with the University Residences. This is a second job for me, but is very worthwhile as completely cuts living costs. Without this position I am unsure that I would be able to finance this year in Cardiff, as most of the money I make with my part-time job in a shop goes towards tuition fees. I worked part-time throughout university, and I have been in my current position for almost three years.”
What were your motivations for undertaking a postgraduate degree?
“I was encouraged by my tutors, but it was only after I graduated that I decided it was something I wanted to do. I want to become a teacher and think this further qualification will enhance my future prospects – particularly as when I was applying Michael Gove was suggesting that all teachers should hold a Masters qualification in their subject, so I thought I might be one step ahead! Also, I am passionate about my subject and have a very particular area that I wish to explore through my dissertation.”
Why did you decide to do your postgraduate degree at Cardiff?
“I applied to study at Cardiff because I had completed my undergraduate degree here, and I know the tutors. I am from Gloucestershire so it is not too far from home, and I really like the campus.”
Is there anything about your postgraduate course that has stood out in your experience?
“Being a Student Warden is very fun, I have met people I otherwise would not have and it has made me feel a lot less anxious about living arrangements. I have also enjoyed meeting the people on my course and taking advantage of the Graduate Centre.”
What do you think of Cardiff as a place to live as a postgraduate?
“As I was an undergraduate in Cardiff it is difficult to answer this question, as I find Cardiff as I always have done: a wonderfully easy city to navigate, with everything on hand. It is the perfect city as it has all the characteristics of a capital but is on a far more manageable scale. I think the Central Library is a great place that I was never encouraged to explore by the university. Certainly as a postgraduate I find it a relaxing, alternative place to work.”
How do you think your postgraduate course will contribute to your future career plans?
“As previously mentioned, there are thoughts that teachers should have a Masters qualification in their subject so, as I want to teach, my postgraduate course will put me one step ahead. The careers department at the university has been incredibly helpful, especially putting me in contact with the Classroom Experience Project who are helping me to gain valuable classroom experience in my free time.”
Has studying for a postgraduate degree at Cardiff University lived up to your expectations?
“Studying for a postgraduate degree has certainly lived up to expectations. I had a year off between graduating and beginning my Masters and I knew I missed the academic life but I did not realise just how much.”
What are your biggest achievements as a postgraduate student at Cardiff University so far?
“So far, my biggest achievements have been the grades I received for my first two assessments. These essays were not only the first I had written in over a year, but needed to be masters’ standard and the great difficulty is knowing what, exactly, that means and entails. So it was a huge relief and achievement to find I had cracked it.”
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