Emma tells us about her passion for research the world-leading expertise of staff in the School of History, Archaeology and Religion. She is currently undertaking MA History and is looking to go on to doctoral study here in Cardiff.
Can you tell us a little bit about the programme in your own words?
“MA History is a theoretically-orientated degree. In the course of my MA study so far I have had the opportunity of working closely with my research mentor giving me valuable experience in formulating and justifying my own arguments and conclusions in seminar discussions, informed debates, and written work.
“Importantly, I have learnt to critically evaluate historical sources and challenge assumptions, in order to consider ways knowledge might be improved. As well as gaining a thorough grounding in theoretical concepts, I will be able to further develop my research skills and methods, through conducting my own independent research later this year, in the form of my dissertation. Although I am studying for MA History, I am specializing in medicine and indeed concentrating on the history of mental health, and so this is the subject that my optional modules are focused on. This tailored aspect of the course is not only by far my favourite because it is specifically of my choosing, but it also allows me to explore ideas for my dissertation early in the course, so that I can specialize in topics that interest me”
What did the Postgraduate Taught Scholarship mean to you?
“When applying for the Postgraduate Scholarship I was hopeful, but did not fully expect to be fortunate enough to be awarded funding. Having the funding means a great deal to me, as we all know taking the decision to enter into postgraduate training is a difficult one given the costs incurred.”
Have you been able to secure funding from other places, how else are you supporting your studies?
“I am very fortunate that my parents are both happy and in the position to support me during my studies. To them I am very grateful. I do also have a part-time evening job which provides me with some extra money.”
What were your motivations for undertaking a postgraduate degree?
“After working for over a year in a job that I disliked I decided to re-evaluate and do something I really loved, while I still had the chance to re-train. I thought of what I wanted to do most and just went for it! I applied to do MA History so that I could go on to do a PhD in the history of medicine, and with a lot of hard work, I aim to become an academic specializing in the history of mental health.
“I have already been provisionally accepted to undertake a PhD in Cardiff University but am anxiously awaiting decisions on funding, which both academic and administration staff have helped me enormously in working towards. I am very passionate about my subject area which easily encourages me to spend most of my free time exploring.”
Why did you decide to do your postgraduate degree at Cardiff?
“Cardiff University is a prestigious University which I wanted to be part of. Further, important areas of study to me are the Social History of Medicine and the History of Psychiatry, both of which are growing research areas in Cardiff University. The distinguished staff working in the field include Professor Keir Waddington and Dr Tracey Loughran, who have one specialty in common; the social history of medicine in nineteenth century Britain. Professor Waddington, who is currently my dissertation tutor and Director of Research, has co-authored a book on the History of Bethlem. Dr Tracey Loughran, a Lecturer in Medical History, specializes in the history of psychiatry, including the popularisation of psychiatric concepts. Given their knowledge and expertise both academics can only aid me in the research of social stigma and mental health in the nineteenth century, which is currently my area of focus.”
Is there anything about your postgraduate course that has stood out in your experience?
“I have enjoyed my academic experience at Cardiff University enormously, both staff and fellow students are always happy to help. Staff frequently go above and beyond what is expected of them, for instance Dr Peter Guest organized for all of the HST900 Skills and Methods students to have a trip to Oxford to visit the Ashmolean Museum and the Pitt Rivers Museum. Not only was this an enjoyable experience but it was also the perfect chance to get to know fellow students.”
What do you think of Cardiff as a place to live as a postgraduate?
“Having lived in Cardiff in the past and already having friends in the area I knew it was exactly the type of city I wanted to live in. Not only does it have everything you need and want, from shops and restaurants, the Bay, Glamorgan Archives and the Millennium Stadium, it is also at the same time a pleasantly small and self-contained city. Additionally, the cost of living is very reasonable. There is absolutely no need for the expense of a car, and as a student this is a very welcome aspect of Cardiff. I currently live within walking distance of the university, the city centre, Roath Park and the castle. What more could I want? ”
Has studying for a postgraduate degree at Cardiff University lived up to your expectations?
“I am thoroughly enjoying my academic studies at Cardiff University. I work very hard, but at something I am interested in and take pleasure from my course. I am very fond of both preparing for and actively taking part in seminars. I find the history department staff are very friendly and approachable when issues do arise. I must also mention the Arts and Social Library staff who are more than helpful when you just cannot find that book you desperately want!”
What are your biggest achievements as a postgraduate student at Cardiff University so far?
“My biggest achievement as an MA student is to be accepted to do a PhD at Cardiff University, something I am very much looking forward to beginning in October provided everything goes to plan.”
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