Case study

MA Methods of Social Research — Luke Shoveller

Luke decided to pursue postgraduate study at the University of Kent after enjoying his undergraduate degree at the university

Why did you decide to pursue a postgraduate course?

I greatly enjoyed my BA Cultural Studies, which was undertaken at the University of Kent's School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR). It provided an excellent opportunity to study topics and material drawn from both the social sciences and humanities. When I graduated, I wanted to continue to engage with interdisciplinary study, and so I decided to pursue a structured PhD sociology programme, beginning with an MA in Methods of Social Research.

Why did you choose this postgraduate course and institution?

In SSPSSR, there is a growing group of staff and students working on similar topics and approaches that are close to my main interests: memory, oral history, and the experience of industrial closure. I found this particularly appealing because, at postgraduate level, there is a much greater opportunity to work collaboratively - both alongside your peers, and members of staff. I was also drawn to remaining at Kent because SSPSSR is consistently ranked among the best departments in the country for research excellence and research intensity. This is reflected in the research methods training provision offered within the school, and the range of funding opportunities available for postgraduate students. Both my MA and ongoing PhD project were fully supported by an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) stipend.

What is the course teaching you that your first degree did not?

While my BA was mostly theoretical, my MA and current PhD project have given me the opportunity to develop empirical research skills - from quantitative data analysis to oral historical research methods. Alongside this, I have spent the last two years focusing on the ethical, moral and philosophical issues that underlie the conduct of effective social research. This has provided a grounded platform for my ongoing PhD research.

Tell us about the course…

My PhD project is entitled '(De)Industrial Aesthetics, Heritage and Legacies in the Garden of England: Deindustrial Culture in the Kent Coalfield'. In the next two years, I will undertake a series of oral historical interviews with multiple generations of ex-coalmining families, alongside an ethnographic exploration of the ongoing regeneration attempt in the former Kent Coalfield region. Immediately following the completion of my MA, I am now in the first year of my PhD. As such, I am currently focusing on reading around the subject-area, and preparing for my fieldwork.

What areas of work could you go into as a result of your further study?

If the challenge of learning the craft of social research interests you, and you find it to be something you actively enjoy, you are likely to be well-suited for a career in market research, social work, teaching and the civil service.

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