Cardiff - the city, Funding and Finance, Student Profiles

My Cardiff Postgraduate Experience – James Phillips, MA History

Why did you choose to study a postgraduate degree at Cardiff University?

I had three fantastic years studying history at Cardiff as an undergraduate. I was given the chance to study a wide range of topics, from the medieval military orders to the French Revolution and gained valuable knowledge from some inspirational lecturers and tutors which helped me to discover my passion for modern Welsh history. I gained valuable skills, both from an interpersonal perspective through engaging seminars, and also from a historical perspective through thought-provoking, research-led lectures. Thanks to a combination of hard work and the opportunities offered by the university to work with historians actively involved in innovative and ground-breaking research, I was able to achieve a First-class honours degree at the University. I was also fortunate to study and work in a welcoming, cosmopolitan city like Cardiff and also meet some wonderful people who have become good friends. As a result of my immensely positive experience at the University, it was an easy decision to continue my research at Cardiff.

How was your experience as a postgraduate student at Cardiff University, in terms of the programme?

Postgraduate study has been an invaluable continuation of my experience at Cardiff. I have been able to dive deeper into Welsh history and gain a more intricate understanding of historical research through my dissertation work. By taking part in seminar and presentation work on 19th century and 20th century Welsh history, I have been given the opportunity to discuss and debate with both tutors and fellow history students, and express my own ideas and interpretations on subjects ranging from the history of Welsh sport to the Welsh involvement in the Spanish Civil War. By engaging with students from other disciplines in my Skills and Methods for Postgraduate Studies module, I have also been able to gain a wider understanding of other research methods which has benefitted my own studies.


How was your experience of living in Cardiff, in terms of the city, social life and accommodation, again specifically as a postgraduate student?

I commute into the city which is straightforward and easy to do. I live locally and have always loved coming to Cardiff, whether it was to visit Cardiff Bay or Cardiff Castle. As a postgraduate student, I have enjoyed many other great opportunities that the city has to offer, from watching Wales play at the Millennium Stadium to going out with friends and experiencing the vibrant nightlife the city has to offer. Cardiff is an amazing environment to live, work and study in and I would recommend it to anyone.

What was the different about your postgraduate experience at Cardiff University compared to your previous degree?

Postgraduate life has been different to my undergraduate experience at Cardiff but it has not been difficult to acclimatise to the changes due to the excellent support from both tutors and the University. Assessed work is more challenging but you are given the opportunity to have more individual, one-to-one time with lecturers and tutors who are always helpful and available if you need any help with your studies. Seminars have consisted of smaller, more concentrated groups which encourages you to articulate your ideas more consistently and really gives you confidence to express yourself. Above all, my postgraduate experience has felt more personal, more tailor-made to my interests and my research ideas.


How did you fund your postgraduate degree?

I self-funded part of my postgraduate degree but as a result of my performance at Cardiff, I was awarded with a Masters Excellence Scholarship. It was a great honour to receive such an accolade from the University and eased any pressures I might have had in funding my degree.

How do you think that your postgraduate degree is helping prepare you for the future – job aspirations, career development, future study etc.

My postgraduate degree is a major stepping stone on my journey to becoming a professional historian. It gives me a much needed advantage in an increasingly competitive job market and has provided me with the necessary writing, organisational and presentational skills to achieve my goal of becoming both a lecturer and a historian. It has allowed me to not only engage with tutors who have a significant understanding of the practice of history but it has allowed me to connect with the wider historical community by meeting other historians to discuss my research and ideas. By allowing me to build a network of contacts with historians at both the University and further afield, my postgraduate degree has enabled me to build a solid foundation upon which to build my career in the field of history. As I also have aspirations of doing a PhD at the University, my postgraduate degree is not only a necessary requirement to do further academic study but it has also equipped me with the research skills I require to carry out and complete a history thesis, ranging from archival research to the ability to effectively interpret and analyse historical sources. My postgraduate degree will therefore be vital for my future prospects, both in the short and long term.