Case study

Grace Marks — Masters student

Employer
Edge Hill University

After graduating with a degree in history from Edge Hill University, Grace decided to undertake a Masters in Nineteenth-Century History Studies from the same institution and has plans to study a PhD. Discover how she's found the course so far.

Why did you decide to pursue a postgraduate course?

I wanted to build on the knowledge and skills I'd gained as an undergraduate and take it to this higher level. I hoped to develop my research skills and specialise in nineteenth century history, which the programme at Edge Hill allowed me to do.

What was the application process like?

I found the application process to be really easy. I applied directly through the Edge Hill website, so it was easier than having to go through a secondary website like UCAS. I just filled out my personal details, provided a short personal statement and filled out my reference details. I submitted it and heard back quickly that I'd been accepted.

How are you funding your postgraduate study?

I'm funding my studies through the postgraduate loan from Student Finance.

Tell us a bit about the course and what it involves.

It combines history and English literature to look closely at the nineteenth century. I'd already studied history, while some students had taken English, and others completely different subjects, but the core 'Research Skills' module gets everyone up to speed on areas they may not have covered previously, and everyone is happy to help our fellow students.

We studied the new romantic movements, a decade-by-decade approach to the Victorians, and the history of Victorian entertainment.

All the assignments are left up to you to decide the topic, so you can really tailor the degree to your own research interests. For example, I wrote an essay on my ancestor who was a Victorian music hall performer.

You can make it as history or literary based as you like, if you're stronger in one area, but I've found combining both approaches make for a more enjoyable time. This means you can learn how to use new sources in different way to strengthen your argument.

How does postgraduate life differ to that of an undergraduate?

As a postgraduate, we were only on campus for one afternoon or evening a week. So, there's much more flexibility within the week to plan your course work around any other commitments.

However, there was more reading - full novels in some cases - and audiobooks can really help with that. There was a lot of time commitment in preparing for the seminars. On the other hand, you have more of a free rein to create your own research questions. Some people may struggle with this, but the lecturers are there to support and guide you.

What do you hope to do when you graduate?

I'm starting a PhD after I graduate, focusing on entertainment and friendship in the late-nineteenth century. I'm not only using the knowledge I've learned on the MA to start my PhD, but I'm also using the core skills it has taught me about research, organisation and time management to successfully continue my academic career.

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

Chat to the lecturers who will be teaching you at an open day and ask them lots of questions about how you'll learn, what you'll learn and how you'll be assessed. They will be able to give you an overview of the course and what you'll be doing.

A Masters degree is a big commitment and it's important you love the subject you want to study further and make sure the course it right for you.

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