Jon tells us how his Postgraduate Taught Scholarship has enabled him to focus on his writing whilst drawing on the support of fellow postgraduates and tutors on the MA Creative Writing programme. His highlights have included receiving comments on his work from published writers and building a network of support with fellow writing enthusiasts.
Can you tell us a little bit about the programme in your own words?
“The course is intended as a productive environment for writers to develop their skills. With a mixture of lectures and workshops, the class forms a community where they can improve their writing in a constructive environment. Professional writers visit every few weeks and the class has a reading followed by an open mic night where they perform their work in front of an audience.
“There is also a teaching module, where the class observe and participate in undergraduate classes before eventually taking a full class in the Spring term. The class also visit local schools, museums and other institutions to understand the different forms of teaching to different age groups and in different situations.”
What did the Postgraduate Taught Scholarship mean to you?
“The Taught Postgraduate Scholarship enabled me to take the course and fully immerse myself in it. Had I not been lucky enough to receive the scholarship my focus would have been divided between the course and earning enough money to pay for it. I now feel that I can fully utilise my time at Cardiff and develop my writing to a degree previously impossible.”
Have you been able to secure funding from other places, how else are you supporting your studies?
“I used the Alternative Funding Guide to secure a small bursary from a local trust. While not on the same level as the Taught Scholarship, the bursary covered all books and materials that I needed for the course and was most welcome.”
What were your motivations for undertaking a postgraduate degree?
“I undertook the degree to allow myself time and space to develop my writing in the presence of likeminded colleagues and expert tutors. It also allows me to connect to the wider writing community and develop support and contacts that should prove invaluable in my career as a writer.”
Why did you decide to do your postgraduate degree at Cardiff?
“My time at Cardiff at undergraduate level was a great experience and I was delighted to return. Cardiff allows new students to settle in very quickly and is therefore perfect for a year-long course where you would not want to spend months settling in.
“The tutors also figured heavily in my decision, with the range of distinguish and supportive staff very appealing to someone new to writing like myself.”
Is there anything about your postgraduate course that has stood out in your experience?
“The evening readings and open mic nights, as well as the trip to Gregynog Hall, really helped the class to develop a strong bond. In a course that involves the sharing (and critique) of what can be highly personal work, getting to know your fellow course mates is vital, and I feel the structure of the course aids this.”
What do you think of Cardiff as a place to live as a postgraduate?
“The city is a superb place to study as a postgraduate student. There is a wide range of activities to keep people occupied, and the vibrant night-life suits all tastes, from classic pubs and clubs to eclectic music venues and a wide range of restaurants and cafes. ”
How do you think your postgraduate course will contribute to your future career plans?
“Writing is a lonely occupation and without the course it would be very difficult to meet like-minded friends and develop contacts in the creative community. I have met people, such as published writers and literary agents, that I would never have met without the course and I feel that such links will serve me very well in my future career.”
Has studying for a postgraduate degree at Cardiff University lived up to your expectations?
“Very much so. I wanted to share my writing in the hope of receiving useful feedback but I have done so much more. Instead of receiving mere feedback I feel I have developed professional links and strong friendships that will outlast the course. My classmates and I will no doubt stay in contact and help one another achieve our potential as writers.”
What are your biggest achievements as a postgraduate student at Cardiff University so far?
“While it is very much a work in progress, and we are yet to receive any grades, I feel my writing has become much stronger. The highlight would have to be positive comments from published writers, and, specifically, reading my work directly after the New Yorker favourite Tessa Hadely in front of members of the public at an open mic night.”
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