Sheffield's SLC was the best choice for my MA, owing to its strong research profile and specialisms in Multilingualism and Small Languages

Katy Humberstone
Katy Humberstone
MA Student
MA Modern Languages and Cultures
Katy talks about postgraduate life in Sheffield.
Katy Humberstone

Why are you doing an MA?

My Undergraduate degree (French, Italian and Spanish), gave me a taster of Multilingualism and Sociolinguistics and I just knew I wanted to pursue this further at Postgraduate level - I was keen to expand on my knowledge and research in the field. Sheffield's SLC was the best choice for my MA, owing to its strong research profile and specialisms in Multilingualism and Small Languages. As soon as I saw the Sheffield website, I just knew the course was the right one for me!

What’s the topic of your MA dissertation and why is it interesting?

My MA dissertation will look at negotiations of identity among members of the community in both Mexico and Cornwall. Although studies have been undertaken on the tangible heritage of the Cornish-Mexican diaspora of Hidalgo (e.g. the legacy of Cornish architecture, pasties and football), little attention has been paid to how identity is constructed and negotiated in the area. Global Cornish is a fascinating instance of the role of a small language within an increasingly interconnected and globalised world. Indeed, the notion of the translocal or global is not new for Cornish, but enhanced interconnectivity has given impetus for recent heritage (re)discovery activities.

What’s it like being a postgraduate in the School of Languages & Cultures?

It's a really enriching and rewarding experience. The staff are very passionate about the subjects they teach, and there's lots of opportunities to collaborate with other students during modules and extra-curricular activities. For example, as a Student Rep for my MA programme, I work alongside other students to gain feedback from peers, collaborating with the SLC to make a difference to the Student Experience. The department really cares for their students in both academic and personal life, and I think that really shows.

How did you find the first few months, in particular?

I found the first few months really exciting. I had contact with staff at the SLC prior to starting; everyone was so helpful in answering my questions about the department and course, particularly during (lockdown) Covid circumstances where I was unable to visit the department on an open day. There were some fantastic opportunities to meet other students on my MA course, and the wider SLC community; I've made some really great friends. The Christmas party for all the MAs, PhD-ers and staff was great fun, too!

What’s been your highlight of your course?

There's been so many, it's honestly hard to think of one in particular! But I think a highlight for me has been developing a Breton Linguistic Landscapes study and research poster as part of my Social Approaches to Multilingualism class in first term. I really enjoyed the process of creating an interactive poster and presenting this to other students in Sheffield and beyond.

What support do you receive?

My tutors are all very supportive, always on-hand to answer any queries about my modules. Also, their weekly office hours are always open for any questions. For class and coursework, we often work in small groups, and I find this a really nice way to share and build ideas. The University-wide 301 Academic Skills Centre has also been pivotal in helping me develop skills for my MA research and assignments; they offer a wide variety of workshops and seminars specifically aimed at MA students, and have tailored sessions for Dissertation and Literature Review skills. Their 1:1 Study Skills Tutorials have also been incredibly helpful for any study skills-related queries I have, and are run by PhD students who have MA experience themselves!

What resources are available to you?

Studying online, I've found the Library services really helpful, and my modules each have a course page which I can easily access whenever I want, providing all the key learning resources for my course.

What additional opportunities are there in the School?

There are many additional opportunities for students! This term, I'm undertaking an International Project Management module where I am working in a team to co-develop an initiative for Wellbeing Services at the University. Co-developed projects like this are greatly fostered and encouraged at Sheffield; they really listen to their students and I think that makes a difference. I've also taken part in Multilingualism groups, student-led MA events, and I'm also a current Digital Ambassador for the SLC, supporting the Social Media presence of the School. Module tutors regularly get in touch to let us know about extra-curricular seminars which link with our specialisms. For example, last term, I completed an Ethnography course with the Institute for Modern Languages Research (London).

What are your plans for after your MA?

All being well, I hope to continue within academia and pursue a PhD in Sociolinguistics/Small Languages. Building on my MA work, this will link my interests in Cornish Studies, Latin American Studies and Sociolinguistics, looking at the Linguistic Landscape of a Cornish diaspora in Mexico.

Can you describe the School in 3 words?

Rewarding, Enriching, Community

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