Student spotlight details
Ruby enrolled on our Master of Studies in Literature and Arts (MLA) course and worked as editor for student journal 'Vides'.
'Before I enrolled on the MLA, I was working at Canterbury Christ Church University as a project administrator. After finishing my undergraduate degree, I decided I needed to spend a year working to truly work out which direction I wanted to take my career/studies.
'I studied Art History at undergraduate, and while I loved the course, I sometimes found it a little limiting. I wanted to build on what I already knew whilst exploring other aspects of material culture, for example I wrote my undergraduate dissertation on Fernand Léger’s illustrated book Mes Voyages, yet didn’t explore other contemporary literary publications which may have illuminated themes and topics I was exploring. The MLA facilitates an interdisciplinary approach to history and it was this rationale and academic scope that inspired me most.
'I think the most challenging aspect of the course was managing studying with working at Christ Church University, and it was difficult to not feel disjointed at times as you were trying to pay attention to two very different commitments in one head at one time. You can overcome this, but you need to be committed in order to sustain this kind of split personality for two years! The structure of the programme enabled me to manage this better – and the residential weeks allowed me to have time to focus solely on my academic work. I’m not sure how well I would have done without these residential breaks as they really did offer respite and the opportunity to feel like a ‘real’ student.
'The most rewarding and enjoyable part of the course was definitely working as editor for the course’s annual student journal Vides. As editor, it was my job to ensure that the project ran smoothly and the final journal was submitted on time. I also had an excellent team helping me to design, format and proof-read, and my peers were very understanding and patient with me as I chased them to meet deadlines and asked for their input and suggestions. The sense of achievement when the journal was completed was second to none; I absolutely loved working with my peers and now we each have all our hard work beautifully bound and sitting on our bookshelves. My favourite module on the course involved looking at the Tudor court, and I subsequently wrote my dissertation on the protocol of pregnancy at Henry VIII’s court.
'Now that I’ve finished my course, I have been accepted on to a PhD programme at the University of Manchester with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council. My project will be looking at the idea of ‘comfort’ as an emerging cultural value in the eighteenth-century country house. I'm incredibly excited to begin this next stage in my academic career, particularly so knowing that I don't have to work alongside my studies and can fully immerse myself in academic life.
'I would tell a prospective MLA student to definitely go for it. The course is thoroughly enjoyable as well as academically challenging. However, it is a big commitment and they need to be confident that they will be able to sustain studying alongside their ‘civilian’ lives!'