Case study

Masters graduate — Darcy Nathan

After achieving a degree in English Literature, Darcy decided to pursue a writing career. She chose to study the MA International Multimedia Journalism at Newcastle University, and now works as an editorial assistant for Prospects/Jisc

Why did you decide to study this course?

I studied English Literature as an undergraduate and knew I wanted to get into writing as a career.

I initially tried to pursue this through an apprenticeship but found it difficult to secure long-term placements in this industry.

I discovered some postgraduate funding for women in the North East who wished to embark on a journalism career and decided to apply.

What was the application process like?

It was twofold. I had to apply for the Masters itself and then my scholarship was a separate application. 

My undergraduate tutors were encouraging and offered a lot of support with my personal statement.

I found it helpful to apply earlier in the academic year as I didn't have to balance my time with my dissertation.

How did you go about securing scholarship funding?

The application process for the scholarship was an essay on my commitment to writing on women's issues. I had previously worked with several charities producing copy for their websites and most of my writing was on feminism and politics.

I knew I was a strong candidate for the criteria, but asking for help from a variety of tutors at the university definitely strengthened my application as they were aware of the internal processes at the university.

What did the scholarship involve?

The scholarship was the Jane Constance bursary at Newcastle University and was founded by Simon Constance and his family, in memory of his wife, Jane, who passed away in August 2018. Jane looked at working in Journalism but never had the chance to make it happen; the scholarship was set up to give other women the chance to achieve that dream.

I was awarded £6,000 to spend on living fees, accommodation and career progression. I saved most of this for after my studies, to help me relocate for my career.

The application process was just the essay, and then once I received confirmation that I had been awarded the fund, I was invited to a ceremony to meet the donor and his family.

I was asked to keep in touch with the donor family via letters around once a semester. This was a nice opportunity to reflect on my progress and my goals for the future and to assure the Constance family that their money was going to good use. 

What did the course teach you that your first degree did not?

My MA was completely different to my undergraduate degree both in terms of content and assessment. I was used to studying English and applying theory - the Masters was mainly practical journalism, so it took me a long time to adapt to analysing my own work. I enjoyed the hands-on experience and the specific skills it gave me to embark on a career in the journalism industry.

Tell us a bit about the course and how it was assessed.

The course modules aligned with my undergraduate degree, with three a semester. The main difference with postgraduate study is that you have a third semester in which to complete your final project. This is like a dissertation or thesis, but instead of an essay, my final assessment was a practical journalism portfolio.

How did postgraduate life differ to that of an undergraduate?

Postgraduate life is less about the social side and more about the course. Since the loan is much smaller than an undergraduate loan, most of your friends will be working alongside studying.

The assessments also immediately count towards your final grade. It was a bit of a shock to start the course and get summative assessments within the first few weeks, but I soon adapted.

What do you wish you'd known before embarking on postgraduate study?

It's a lot of work. Postgraduate study is much more demanding than undergraduate study. The coursework is more challenging, the research expectations are higher, and the deadlines are tighter. It's important to be prepared for a lot of hard work. However, the benefits outweigh the challenges in terms of your employability.

What tips would you give to others choosing a Masters degree?

  • Carefully consider your career goals and what you want to do after you graduate. It's important to know that your course is going to equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to achieve your goals.
  • Network with other students and professionals. The postgraduate stage is the perfect time to begin attending conferences, workshops, and other events in your chosen area and it is helpful to meet other people in your field and build relationships for your future work.
  • It's important to be organised and manage your time effectively with so much on your plate. This means creating a study schedule, setting deadlines for yourself, and sticking to them as much as possible.

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