Louise’s Postgraduate Taught Scholarship allowed her to return to academia and helped her realise that she really wanted to be writing academic essays! She is currently enrolled on our MA English Literature, and appreciates how well-connected Cardiff is to her home in Bristol.
Can you tell us a little bit about the programme in your own words?
“The English Literature programme comprises four modules over two terms, followed by a dissertation. You can choose to follow a pathway which combines modules on a similar theme, such as a pathway on Renaissance studies or Gender studies, or you can choose to follow the open pathway and pick any four modules which interest you. There is a really good variety of subjects available. The staff are fantastic, really friendly and involved, and make sure to arrange a lot of social events for the MA group – there are around 20 of us on the English Literature Masters course. The department also run Research Methods seminars for the whole group once a week, which is unassessed but provides incredibly useful information on research in English Literature, workshops on things like bibliography, footnotes, quotations, and developing a dissertation idea, and also gets the whole group of us together once a week. The department also runs a fortnightly Critical Reading group, where we look at significant critical cultural and literary theory texts and discuss them. They have a fantastic programme of guest speakers and events, as well as research groups like Assuming Gender who organise seminars and an annual lecture.”
What did the Postgraduate Taught Scholarship mean to you?
“Being awarded this scholarship came as a bit of a surprise. I assumed they would be given to students in science and other more practical fields, but thought it would be foolish not to apply anyway. I was thrilled when I heard that I had been awarded the scholarship, of course the reduction in my tuition fees being enormously helpful to my funds. But it is also refreshing to see that study of the arts is considered significant alongside other disciplines, and scholarships awarded in that area too, especially at a time when the arts and humanities are suffering in Britain.”
Have you been able to secure funding from other places, how else are you supporting your studies?
“I did not apply for any other funding, perhaps due to my cynicism about the possibility of achieving funding for an arts and humanities degree. However I also work part time, as many people on my course do, one or two days a week as a copywriter. I worked for three years following my undergraduate degree in various editorial roles, so some of my savings from that time are also funding my degree. ”
What were your motivations for undertaking a postgraduate degree?
“I always intended to do a Masters, but following my undergraduate degree I wanted to experience the world of work for a while. Three years of editorial and writing jobs, and suddenly it hit me that what I really wanted to be writing was academic essays, about literature and cultural theory. It just struck me that now was the right time, and everything since has seemed to agree – it feels right, like this is exactly what I should be doing. Because of this, I am almost certainly going to apply for a PhD and continue my studies, with a view to becoming an academic.”
Why did you decide to do your postgraduate degree at Cardiff?
“While I was looking at institutions for a Masters, my first consideration was purely practical – somewhere close enough to Bristol (where I live) to commute to. Out of the nearby universities, the Cardiff course was extremely well suited to me and what I wanted to study. Other English departments have very rigid structures to their taught courses, students having to focus heavily on one area of literature, for example just Shakespeare, just Romanticism, or just Modern Poetry. The Cardiff course’s open pathway allowed me to choose modules from several different areas that I am interested in.”
Is there anything about your postgraduate course that has stood out in your experience?
“The friendly and social nature of the academic community in the English and Critical Cultural theory departments has definitely stood out for me. Our lecturers talk to us as equals, ask our opinion, keep us informed and organise social events (often with drinks receptions!).”
What do you think of Cardiff as a place to live as a postgraduate?
“I am actually living in Bristol and commuting into Cardiff, usually on the train. I really enjoy the commute actually (45 mins – 1 hour). It gives me time to read on the train, and the journey is quite pleasant. I haven’t really seen much of Cardiff as a city. I tend to go between the train station and Cathays (where my department and library are) and not much else.”
How do you think your postgraduate course will contribute to your future career plans?
“The course has helped me to realise that I want to be an academic, a lecturer and researcher. They have been massively supportive in aiding those of us that want to apply for PhDs in writing proposals and applying for funding.”
Has studying for a postgraduate degree at Cardiff University lived up to your expectations?
“Yes, absolutely. I was very excited about becoming part of the academic community and throwing myself into my studies, and that has happened – I’m completely enthused by everything I’m learning and feel part of the department.”
What are your biggest achievements as a postgraduate student at Cardiff University so far?
“I was selected to be the Literature Editor of new nationwide online magazine The New Union, which aims to defend the significance of the arts and humanities to society.”
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