Why did you choose to take a History MA programme? and why did you choose Sheffield particularly?
I did my undergraduate degree in history at Sheffield and really enjoyed the experience, which made it an easy choice to do my Masters here. I found the department really supportive and very quick to offer advice should I request it. Also I was impressed by the presence of gender in many of the modules. I decided on Modern History as this was the period I had most enjoyed doing in my Undergrad and had focussed on for my dissertation. I was drawn to the range of different modules offered in the course and particularly excited to get to study new areas such as identity in South East Asia and Activism in Britain. My decision to stay in Sheffield was also influenced by the fact that I have been really impressed by many other aspects of the University, particularly the Students Union. I have been involved in the number of societies and found that to be a really exciting experience and great way to meet different people. Also the city of Sheffield is a really friendly place and I have found it a very enjoyable environment to study in.
Tell us a bit about the course...
The structure of the course is quite straight forward and not dissimilar to that of my undergraduate course. There is one core module on modernity, which is taught through weekly seminars lasting two hours. It is an interesting module and more conceptual than most of the other subjects that I am taking. The nation state is quite a large proponent of the module, allowing us to explore areas such as welfare and anarchism. The other compulsory elements of the course are the dissertation and presentation. I have not focussed too much on these aspects yet, but have enjoyed beginning research for my dissertation. The part of the course that I have probably found most exciting is the optional modules. It was difficult to select modules as there were so many interesting options. I decided to select a range of modules and was able to choose both areas that I had studies bits of before and also totally new areas. I have really enjoyed the level of depth that the modules have offered and having the chance to analyse primary sources. The modules offer a great chance to really look into a topic and discuss it with others. The course also offers the chance to engage in modules outside of the department and I personally selected to take a Gender module in the languages department. I have really enjoyed doing this and feel it has helped to develop my understanding of gender which I have then been able to link back to my history modules.
What are the benefits of postgraduate study?
The thing that I most enjoy about postgraduate study is the freedom that it offers. I am currently writing essays on three topics that I am really interested in and have been able to work with my tutors to develop the ideas and themes of the module in a way that interests me. I also enjoy that fact that I don't have any exams or lots of essays throughout term. This means that you have the chance to really gain an understanding of a topic before worrying about writing essays and that by the time you do start working on assessments you have had lots of time to consider what interests you and how to offer original interpretations. The format of postgraduate seminars is also a definite benefit. The two hour seminars allow enough time to discuss a topic in detail and discuss any elements of the reading that raised questions for you. The course also allows you to control your own time and work in a way that suits you personally. I have also found all of my module leaders and tutors to be very supportive and encouraging. They are always happy to meet to discuss essay ideas or the modules in general.
What advice would you give to others considering postgraduate study?
I would highly recommend postgraduate study to anyone that really enjoyed their undergraduate degree or has a real passion for research and learning. The course does involve a lot of reading and personal study which can make it difficult at points. However, you have more influence over what you are reading and studying, which I have found, makes the workload more enjoyable. I also think that at postgraduate study time management and being able to motivate yourself are incredibly important and that therefore it is important to really enjoy what you are doing. There are lots of different topics that a Modern History Masters Course has to offer and as long as the idea of reading heavily on the areas that interest you and thinking critically about it sounds appealing I would fully recommend a Masters.