Upon completing my undergraduate degree in English Literature in the summer of 2015, I vowed to myself that I would never go back into education. I hadn’t hated my time at university! I made friends for life and studied texts that I had previously never heard of; some of which are now firm favourites. But, admittedly, I had found the whole experience was very stressful.
I never thought that I would be passionate enough about a subject that would warrant me undertaking that kind of stress and pressure again, yet alone to do a Masters degree on it. Apparently, I was wrong!
What am I studying? And why?
History has always been a love of mine. I have the likes of Time Team and Horrible Histories magazines to thank for that! To me, history has always been another kind of story-telling. As someone who adores fiction: fantasy, adventure, crime, romance! It always amazed me to know that all of the things that I read and learned about the Romans, Egyptians, Tudors etc. were true! They weren’t made up (for the most part). This fascination with the past stuck with me during the whole time that I studied English Literature, and finally reared it’s head again when I decided to write my undergraduate dissertation on Historical Fiction.
Having studied and loved the works of Philippa Gregory as part of my undergraduate dissertation, I wanted to find out more about the real women who formed the foundations of Gregory’s historical fictions. I began simply; mainly by watching documentaries on Netflix about the period. I listened to a lot of the discussions from the Radio 4 programme, In Our Time. And then, of course, I had to get my hands on some books. The more I read and learnt, the more I wanted to know. And so I decided, medieval history was the subject for me!
After conducting a lot of my own research into which course I wanted to study and which university I wanted to attend, I chose to complete my masters via distance learning. As it so happened, all three went hand in hand. A lot of the universities that run courses specifically on medieval history are based either in London or the north of England. Both of these places I quite far away from where I live
A lot of the universities that run courses specifically on medieval history are based either in London or the north of England. Both of these places I quite far away from where I live so I had to narrow my search to courses that were available online.
Eventually, I discovered a Medieval Studies course at UWTSD (University of Wales Trinity Saint David) that also had the option to study via distance learning. From reading the course overview and emailing the course leader with a few questions, the programme seemed perfect for me.
The whole application process was quite a lot different to applying for an undergraduate degree. For the most part, you have to apply directly to the university that you want to study at, rather than submitting a general application to UCAS. In order to do this, you have to know exactly which course you want to apply for, what they want you to include on your application, and most importantly how you are going to fund it.
The one aspect of the application process that is very similar to an undergraduate application (and probably the post important part) is the need for a personal statement. It is an opportunity to sell yourself and tell the university why you are perfect for the course. It is strongly advised that you don’t use your undergraduate personal statement as a template. Bachelors and Masters degrees are distinctly different. Although they require similar skills, Masters degrees are undoubtedly more advanced.It is best to find out exactly what the university want to know. On my specific application form, it included several things to mention in my personal statement such as “reasons for choosing the programme of study (e.g. experience, interests, motivation, career path and continuing professional development)”.
For this application, I had to provide certified copies of my undergraduate degree certificate and my passport. I don’t know if I was just utterly oblivious, but before this, I had no idea what “certified” meant in this context. It turns out that it meant I had to get copies of my degree certificate and passport signed by a solicitor, lawyer, or notary to confirm that they are authentic copies. I was originally concerned that this would cost a lot of money, but for me, it was only £5 per document.
Very much like in a job application, you will need references. For my application, I needed one academic and one personal. I used my current employer and my undergraduate dissertation tutor. Remember that you need to ask permission before you list someone as a reference! They may not always be in a position to support your application straight away. This was the case with my dissertation tutor, so I made sure that on my application form I included when she would be able to provide a reference.
The dynamic between women and power during the medieval period has always fascinated me, in particular, medieval queens, and I find the life of Empress Matilda especially interesting so I am hoping to incorporate those two things into my dissertation topic somehow.
For anyone interested in the medieval period, or more specifically medieval queens, the works of Helen Castor, Alison Weir, David Loades, Lisa Hilton and Sara Gristwood have been particularly helpful in getting me up to speed on important events, dates and people.
In addition to keeping on top of all of my assignments, I’m hoping to visit a lot of the historically relevant places that I come across in my reading. I have already visited Kenilworth Castle and Berkeley Castle and plan on making my visits to these amazing places a series on this blog. Please feel free to suggest any other places that might be worth a visit!
I know that this was a very wordy blog post but if anyone has any questions about anything I have mentioned I will more than happily answer them 🙂