I have encountered new areas and approaches to history that I had never heard of before university

Photo of Lydia Thomas, history student
Lydia Thomas
Final year undergraduate student
BA History
Lydia, a final year student, shares how she was drawn to study at Sheffield because of the range of modules, the city and the friendly staff and students.
Photo of Lydia Thomas, history student

I have enjoyed learning about such a wide and diverse range of histories, leading me to ask questions I had never considered before.

Lydia Thomas

BA History


Why did you choose to study at Sheffield?

The variety of modules appealed to me, and the friendliness of staff and students on the open day affirmed my decision. The city of Sheffield itself, with all it has to offer and the friendliness of its people also made my decision to study here an easy one.

Has your experience so far been what you expected?

My experience has exceeded expectations. I have encountered new areas and approaches to history that I had never heard of before university, which have truly enhanced my perspective and critical thinking about various histories, as well as general present-day issues.

What do you particularly enjoy about your degree?

I have enjoyed learning about such a wide and diverse range of histories, leading me to ask questions I had never considered before and developing critical thinking skills needed for the study of history. Such skills have particularly been useful in planning my dissertation now I'm in the final year of my degree.

I also enjoy the flexibility of my course in choosing what types of history I want to study and largely being able to choose what aspects I decide to explore further. Such flexibility effectively makes the course tailor-made to each student, providing a unique degree and experience to everyone.

What are you studying this year? Are there any modules that you've particularly enjoyed?

This year I am studying Britain's Social Revolution as my special subject, and A Comparative History of Revolution for my thematic option, both of which I am enjoying.

I particularly enjoyed The Disenchantment of the European World, which I studied in my first year, which introduced me to new histories which I had never encountered before starting university.

At level two I found my modules on Gender and Sexuality in Modern Britain, and Power and Protest in Late Medieval England particularly captivating.

The former introduced me to gender history on a more practical level, and influenced my decision to take this approach in my dissertation, in which I will explore the contribution of women in the male-dominated Chartist movement.

The latter enabled me to engage with a period of history I had never studied before, and broadened my thinking in history to encompass a wider range of time periods including that of the medieval period.

So far in my final year I am particularly enjoying my special subject module, and the ways in which we have been analysing and engaging with primary sources to grasp a greater understanding of the topic at hand.

If you’ve undertaken any extra-curricular activities, what do you feel these have added to your time here?

I participated in the SURE project in the summer after my second year at university. In the project I explored and compared the relations formed between enslaved women and white female slaveholders in antebellum South Carolina and Virginia.

The project gave me a great insight into what a career in research would be like, which I had been considering before the project. The experience of the project has been invaluable and allowed me to develop my research skills to a greater degree, as well as my confidence in undertaking research of a higher level. The project also allowed me to pursue an interest I had wished to explore in one of my modules, but couldn't due to conflicting time periods.

I am also a Level Three academic rep for the department, which has involved me raising issues to the department and working towards making change.

The chance to raise such issues to staff and create change for students has made my time in Sheffield even more enriched, and has also allowed me to develop skills such as negotiation, as well as others such as collecting evidence and representing the views of a large group of people.

How would you sum up your overall experience of studying at Sheffield?

Enlightening. The flexibility and variety the course offers has enabled me to tailor what I study to my own interests, while also opening my interests up to new areas I had previously not encountered.

The non-academic aspect of my experience at Sheffield has also been enriching in allowing me to engage with a diverse range of people, as well as participate in various skill-building and CV-enhancing opportunities, such as being an Academic Rep and a Student Ambassador, and undertaking the SURE project.

What skills have you learnt that you'll be able to take away from your degree?

I have developed skills of time management, collecting and analysing evidence, formulating arguments and team work in my studies.

I have also developed skills of confidence and independence throughout my degree in undertaking such research independently, and arguing for what I believe to be the case.

This research has also allowed me to develop my skills in critical thinking to a greater degree, enabling me to ask more questions of research, and to find the answers myself.

Do you have any plans for after graduation?

I plan to become a secondary school and/or sixth form teacher after graduation. I have always enjoyed teaching and mentoring other students, and believe my passion for history will translate to others via teaching.

What do you like about the University and/or living in Sheffield?

The University has such a great community feeling about it, and the Student Union especially makes you feel a part of something much bigger.

The opportunities the university provides to its students in building their skills and preparing them for their future careers have been invaluable to my experience. My experience of studying in Sheffield has transformed me into an enriched version of myself, prepared for the future and to build a career I'm passionate about and proud of.

Sheffield as a city has been the perfect backdrop to my experience, full of its own unique experiences and opportunities, as well as the friendliness of all those I have met here.

Would you recommend studying at Sheffield to a friend?

Definitely.

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