"The standard of teaching and knowledge of the staff on the course attracted me to Sheffield, as well as the University and city itself."
Why did you choose to study BA Digital Media and Society at The University of Sheffield?
I really enjoyed that this course provides both theoretical and practical aspects of media, combining that with modern society and the increasing importance of technological landscapes. I knew I wanted to study in the digital field due to its increasing relevance, my enjoyment of the subject and the job opportunities it provides. Marketing, PR, communications and journalism are all fields that interest me, and this course provides knowledge that can be built upon to work towards any of these fields. I enjoy taking modules from School of Journalism and the Management School (marketing), so will complete my degree with both marketing and journalism pathways. An education pathway is also an option. The standard of teaching and knowledge of the staff on the course attracted me to Sheffield, as well as the University and city itself; the Students' Union is incredible and provides an excellent base for social life, academic help, job help and much more.
What are your thoughts on the course so far? Which modules have you enjoyed the most, and why?
So far, I have loved my course. The course looks at media from a number of different angles; sociological theories of media, monitoring social media for research and use of data in the media are just some of the topics expanded upon. I’ve also loved the modules I’ve taken in journalism and marketing as part of my degree; I enjoy broadening my knowledge in these topics and experiencing such quality teaching from excellent staff in other departments. My favourite module from my two years at university so far is probably Digital Media and Social Change, which explores activism in the digital realm. I find it very interesting to compare our more traditional ideas of protest with modern activism through hashtags and petitions, analysing the success of both forms of activism; is one better than the other? Is online activism truly activism? This is especially interesting when we see hugely popular movements such as #blacklivesmatter merging both digital and physical activism together. I also enjoyed the year-long ‘Digital Media and Society’ module in first year; this covered a number of important bases and improved my knowledge in various fields of media, such as data breaches, internet censorship, copyright and the digital divide, and the methods of assessment were enjoyable.
Who's your favourite lecturer, and why?
Ysabel Gerrard, the course leader, is a great lecturer and so helpful and supportive if you need anything. Suay Ozkula is also a really engaging lecturer and her lectures are always well structured and enjoyable. All teaching staff involved in this degree are excellent, and each have their own fields of expertise.
Have you found it easy to settle into student life in Sheffield?
Definitely! I absolutely love Sheffield. It’s very welcoming as a city, and the cost of living is very affordable – something I’m learning even more as I’m currently living in London! The Students' Union is the perfect base for everything at university, and you can always access any help and support you need from there. There are so many clubs and societies to get involved in and make new friends through; I’ve been able to be really involved with the Equestrian Club, something I wanted to continue at university after riding most of my life. I was captain last year, which was great fun and amazing experience. There’s so much to do in and around Sheffield, no matter what you’re interested in, and I always feel very supported at the University.
My favourite thing about Sheffield is probably the fusion of city life and nature. There are so many beautiful parks in Sheffield, which I love. Being able to access so much green space is much different to being in a very built up city where it feels like you’re constantly surrounded by concrete. The Peak District is also easily accessible by car or public transport, so I love to visit with friends for walks or visits to Chatsworth and local villages. In contrast to being so close to nature and the countryside, the city centre, West Street and Meadowhall provide all the shopping and activities you could want from a city, so the partnership of both is really unique. As well as the typical shops and restaurants you would expect to see in a city, there’s an abundance of independent shops, restaurants and cafes in Broomhill, Crookes and Ecclesall Road, which I particularly enjoy.
Do you have any reflections to share on your study since the Coronavirus outbreak and the temporary move to online teaching?
When the lockdown began in March 2020, our lecturers worked really hard to move our teaching online and adapt our modes of assessment to allow for the difference in our learning. I felt that we had a lot of support available and our module leaders worked hard to ensure we had everything we needed to complete our assessments to the best of our ability. I’m not in Sheffield this academic year so can’t talk about how it has progressed since September, but I was very grateful for how quickly the modules were adapted to the difficult situation we were all in.
Can you tell us about the placement year you're currently taking? Is it working out how you thought it would? What has been the biggest thing you've learnt so far on placement?
I’m currently on a Digital Media placement year at the Walt Disney Company, and absolutely loving it! I’m based in Hammersmith, London, but unfortunately we aren’t able to work from the offices at the moment. Our placement years were pushed back to start in September, rather than June, and we have worked from home ever since we started, so it’s definitely different to what I expected when I applied back in January! It is a challenge starting a new job working from home; I’ve had to learn a lot of new specialist software etc. remotely, and have yet to meet any of my team in person, however I still really enjoy it. I love what I’m doing within the role; I’m working on updating and maintaining the Disney websites across the UK and Europe, which is very interesting and fun. I’m given a lot of responsibility and have been really busy, which is great experience for the future. The biggest thing I’ve learnt has been the general experience of seeing how digital media is used in such a huge corporation and understanding its importance to the wider business.
What are your plans following graduation? Where do you see yourself in the future?
There are a number of fields I’m interested in working in; media, PR, communications and marketing. I feel my degree has prepared me adequately for all of these roles, so when I graduate I’ll be searching for anything available within these fields. I’m a huge fan of motorsport and my dream job would be to work as a press officer or similar in Formula 1, but I feel that’s quite a faraway goal! For now, I’d love to get a job I enjoy based in an industry I’m interested in; working at Disney is an incredible taste of that.
What piece of advice would you offer new students to the Department of Sociological Studies at Sheffield?
I feel most of my advice is quite general to all students rather than specific to Sociological Studies, but just try to get involved in as much as you can! Clubs and societies offer great chances to meet new people and expand important skills all whilst having fun, and there are so many great things you can be a part of. Take a look at optional modules/pathways available and think about what you may be interested in pursuing; one of my favourite things in this degree has been being able to access the world class teaching in other departments. I would definitely recommend looking into a placement year or year abroad; they’re excellent opportunities that you only get once! And finally, make sure you’re prepared for all the hills in Sheffield!
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