I was impressed by the content being so stimulating and, most importantly, different to what I’d studied as an undergraduate at a different university

A photo of Emma Cowley
Emma Cowley
Current Student
MA Sociology
Emma shares how she decided that doing a masters at Sheffield was the right decision for her, including what makes the course so enjoyable.
A photo of Emma Cowley

What was your educational background before coming to Sheffield?

Before starting my postgraduate studies at Sheffield, I had gone through all stages of my education whilst living in my hometown, Northampton. I had gained A Levels in Psychology, Sociology, and English Literature, and moved on to study at the University of Northampton as an undergraduate. There, I obtained a first-class Bachelor’s degree with Honours in Sociology, which later prompted me to apply for the Postgraduate Scholarship at the University of Sheffield. Although my educational journey up until this point had always been positive, I was grateful that studying for an MA in Sheffield would also allow me to finally move and study away from home for some independence.

Why did you decide to study at The University of Sheffield?

Although being awarded the Postgraduate Scholarship was certainly a large factor in enabling me to complete a postgrad degree financially, I was also encouraged to study at Sheffield due to the course content and location. Upon browsing the available modules, I was excited by the descriptions of the Theory and Current Sociology modules particularly (which later proved to be two of my favourites). Having been a sociology student prior to this, I was impressed by the content being so stimulating and, most importantly, different to what I’d studied as an undergraduate at a different university. Sheffield is also a brilliant city, with lots to do and a number of fantastic places to socialise with friends, which was important to me with my concerns about potentially becoming homesick.

How easy did you find it to settle into student life in Sheffield?

Initially, settling into student life at Sheffield felt difficult as I was away from home and family for the first time in my life. However, I soon started to feel settled in as I met the other people on my course and had the opportunity to socialise with them through the week. Although I feel that homesickness is something people usually have to deal with at some point as a student, this was certainly alleviated by the friends I was able to make. It also helped to know that we had approachable personal tutors available through the year, who were there to discuss any troubles we might have been struggling with at any time too. 

Tell us a little about the course - any particular modules you’d recommend?

In terms of modules I would recommend, I would again have to state that the two core modules on the Sociology MA are probably my favourites. Whilst they run through both semesters, the content within these modules for each week were varied, and always engaging. Concepts and Ideas in Sociological Theory gives you great insight into a number of key sociological theorists through reading extracts of the source texts; from this, we could then break down the most important concepts in the extracts and develop a strong understanding of the theorists’ ideas. Current Sociology is a deep dive into a number of important and prominent areas of sociological interest with contemporary relevance. This involved us looking at a range of theoretical approaches and dimensions to social inequality, in addition to their overlaps. For both of these modules, it was really interesting to begin to ‘connect the dots’ in terms of the connections between theories, and to consider how we may use them in analyses of current and pressing social issues. 

What piece of advice would you offer new students to the Department of Sociological Studies at Sheffield?

A piece of advice I’d give to current students is to avoid second-guessing your abilities! Speaking up and discussing your ideas in seminars can be scary, particularly if this is something that makes you anxious or if you’re worried you aren’t as ‘capable’ intellectually as other students. However, feeling a bit of imposter syndrome probably affects more people around you than you think, and your voice matters too. Don’t be nervous if you get things wrong sometimes either. Making mistakes, and then correcting your line of thinking is an important and helpful part of learning, after all!

Four students laughing while sat at a bench, outside the Students' Union

International scholarships

We offer a generous package of financial support for international students, including undergraduate and postgraduate taught scholarships towards the annual tuition fee. Applications are open for existing offer holders.