Thanks to his Postgraduate Taught Scholarship from Cardiff University, Robert is a step closer to realizing his ambitions of becoming an academic. In this short interview, he explains why Cardiff is such a fantastic place to study MA English Literature.
Can you tell us a little bit about the programme in your own words?
“The MA in English Literature at Cardiff encompasses a huge range of modules, representing every significant period of literary history, and every significant movement in literary criticism and critical/cultural theory. At its core is a focus on producing extremely detailed and sophisticated analyses of literary and cultural texts, whilst seeing those readings as part of a wider critical trajectory, raising profoundly important questions about the nature of reading and interpretation, and what it means to be a practising literature scholar.
“The School hosts regular seminars and research talks, both from academics within the department and visiting scholars, for which student attendance is actively encouraged. The lecturers and academic staff provide unparalleled insight and critical reflection on their areas of research interest, and the seminar structure of the course allows students to develop our ideas together, creating a deep sense of an academic environment whose multiple and varied successes derive from a mutually productive relationship between the individual scholar and the wider academic postgraduate community.”
What did the Postgraduate Taught Scholarship mean to you?
“The Postgraduate Taught Scholarship has allowed me to build upon the academic successes of my undergraduate degree, maintaining an intellectual impetus that would otherwise have been interrupted by the need to look for sources of funding to see me through the programme. As it is, I have able to proceed straight into my Masters degree, which has made all the difference to my development as a scholar. ”
Have you been able to secure funding from other places, how else are you supporting your studies?
“Outside of the PGT Scholarship, my parents are funding my postgraduate studies, something which may not have been possible had I not secured the funding from Cardiff in the first place. The scholarship has essentially allowed me to continue studying a subject I love at an institution of which I am proud to be a member.”
What were your motivations for undertaking a postgraduate degree?
“I have been interested in pursuing an academic career since I started my undergraduate degree, and this enthusiasm has been nurtured and given form by the excellent academics in English Literature. They have encouraged me to develop my analytical-critical skills, whilst at the same time instilling an awareness of the limitations of academic complacency: there is always more to be said about a text; there is no definitive reading. It is this unparalleled commitment to research that inspired me to become a part of the postgraduate community, to the extent that I am now applying for a PhD within the department.”
Why did you decide to do your postgraduate degree at Cardiff?
“Having completed my undergraduate degree at Cardiff in 2013, I was well aware of the excellent standard of teaching and administrative work that occurred across the department. However, I knew that there was more that these staff members could teach me, especially in those areas most closely aligned with my own research interests, and I knew that my burgeoning academic curiosity would be accommodated within the School. The main reason for continuing my studies at Cardiff comes from a genuine belief that the standard of teaching and sense of community could not be surpassed by any other institution.”
Is there anything about your postgraduate course that has stood out in your experience?
“I would say that the quality of module content is what has stood out most prominently as a feature of the MA. The material is challenging, but is always expertly directed, so that I feel I am forever expanding my knowledge of this subject, even in those areas in which I have a particular interest and expertise.”
What do you think of Cardiff as a place to live as a postgraduate?
“Cardiff is a fantastic city in which to live and study, for any student at whatever age. Aside from the impressive range of social pursuits, it has a lot of cultural highpoints as well; a personal favourite of mine is the Chapter Arts Centre, which always has something interesting on show, particularly for the committed humanities student! ”
How do you think your postgraduate course will contribute to your future career plans?
“My ambitions beyond my current studies are mostly directed towards doctoral research, which I will hopefully continue at Cardiff. The MA has provided an extremely important transitional platform from the broad selections of undergraduate study through to the very detailed and specific foci of independent research. The skills I have extended on this programme, encouraged through such features as the weekly Research Methods seminar, will stand me in very good stead to meet the challenges of further research, and, hopefully, a job in academia.”
Has studying for a postgraduate degree at Cardiff University lived up to your expectations?
“My expectations have been more than met so far. The transition from undergraduate to postgraduate level was definitive without being daunting, and the commitment from all members of staff in ensuring the degree is rewarding in every sense is at the forefront of that experience. It is hard work, and you can’t afford to be indolent about the amount of effort you need to do well; but it is never an unpleasant experience, and the degree to which I have developed as a scholar more than makes up for the occasional all-nighter! ”
What are your biggest achievements as a postgraduate student at Cardiff University so far?
“Achieving distinction-grade marks in my first assessed essays. Whilst this might not be seen as a particularly significant accomplishment on its own, I believe that it illustrates precisely what I have said about the quality of module provision/content and academic support that the staff of English Literature bring to every aspect of the degree. This is what is at the core of my postgraduate experience, and it is this which also allows me to enjoy all the other aspects of postgraduate life in the knowledge that the academic component is being managed with the highest degree of professionalism.”
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