"The Social Policy element of the course was important to me because I wanted to learn about the application of sociological knowledge in practice."
Why did you choose to study the BA Social Policy and Sociology at The University of Sheffield?
I initially intended to study a foundation degree in education at Sheffield Hallam University, but as part of my Access to Higher Education course I did a module in sociology. I had never heard of sociology nor did I know what it was, but I really enjoyed the course and felt it was more appropriate to do what I enjoy rather than what I felt would be good for work. The Department of Sociological Studies at The University of Sheffield was recommended to me as having the best teaching and learning, so I contacted the University directly and was accepted via my UCAS application. It was hard to believe and I was concerned I wasn't academic enough, but the amazing support and teaching offered gave me confidence in my abilities. The Social Policy element of the course was important to me because I wanted to learn about the application of sociological knowledge in practice, specifically how sociology can make an impact on the lives of the people within society.
What did you enjoy most about your course, and why?
Learning! The learning experience goes beyond the lecture theatre and seminar room. This includes the group work, the friendship groups and discussions that happen within them, but also the discussion with lecturers and other academics in the Department. Everyone is so approachable and genuinely want their students to do well.
Every one of the lecturers and Graduate Teaching Assistants I have encountered in my time at the University has impacted me in different ways. They have all given me different knowledge and perspectives, which has allowed me to build and develop throughout my degree. I am overwhelmingly thankful for everyone's contribution. This also extends to the admin team, who have been fantastic. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of my first semester, and the support to get me back to doing work and to support me in work at a pace that was appropriate was amazing.
What do you think about Sheffield as a city? What is your favourite thing to do here?
I live in Sheffield and as a mature student and parent to young children, I didn't really get much opportunity to engage in many social activities in the city. I do, however, love the buzz you have around Sheffield in term time, and the diversity of students in and around the city is lovely. If and when I ever got the chance, I would love to sit in Weston Park to do my work with my friends.
Were you involved in any clubs or societies? If so, how did they add to your overall university experience and what skills have you gained?
Due to my commitments as a parent, I didn't have time on top of my studies to join and clubs. There was interest in mature students creating a mature student network within the department. The academic staff, the admin department and Soc Soc made great attempts to become more inclusive and to listen to the needs of mature students but the reality of commitments for mature students made this difficult to get this group off the ground. But the all department continued to support the needs of mature and parent learners.
Do you have any reflections to share on your study since the Coronavirus outbreak and the temporary move to online teaching?
Online teaching was an easier option for me during lockdown as I had my children at home and I am classed as vulnerable. Therefore, I was able to seamlessly continue with my studies. The lectures and workshops followed the same format, and the break out group work gave me a welcome opportunity to see friends and familiar faces to engage in discussion.
What were your plans following graduation? Where do you see yourself in the future?
I recently started a PhD in Medical Sciences, in the TRANSFORM project at Hull York Medical School, funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research, where I will be carrying out qualitative research into the inequalities in breast screening uptake in the Yorkshire region.
What piece of advice would you offer new students to the Department of Sociological Studies at Sheffield?
Talk!!!!! I cried a lot at the start of my degree. I found it so hard to get my head around everything and the reading felt alien to me, but I found talking to other students and to my lecturers was invaluable, not only did it help me to understand concepts and theories, but it also made me realise I was not alone. The Department genuinely wants its students to do well and will go above and beyond in providing the appropriate support.
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