MSc Historical Studies Jennifer Gray, UK

Tell us a little bit about your background...
Before coming to Strathclyde, I went to secondary school just outside Glasgow, where I grew up. I had been interested in History at school, although I never initally planned to study it at university. In my first year at Strathclyde, I had the opportunity to undertake History modules and really enjoyed the breadth of topics that were covered and how enjoyable my lecturers made our classes. The enjoyment I found in studying the subject was the main reason for undertaking the MSc Historical studies, and I found that it aligned well with the topics that I had focused on during my undergraduate degree. Since finishing my MSc, I've been working in a Human Resources role within the Civil Service. Although this doesn't relate directly to my degree, the skills and discipline that I learned during my time on the course have been really beneficial and transferable to my new role.

What informed your decision to progress into further study?
I thoroughly enjoyed my undergraduate degree and felt that I wanted to spend more time studying the topics that I had found most interesting. The MSc offered me the opportunity to do this and to shape my coursework and dissertation according to my interests. Additionally, I was considering pursuing History at a postgraduate research level and so, the MSc was a key requirement and excellent experience of undertaking independent research.

What drew you to the MSc Historical Studies programme at Strathclyde?
I found that the lecturers and classes offered at Strathclyde were best suited to my interest in early modern History. Furthermore, I found that the MSc Historical Studies would offer me the opportunity to delve further into topics that I had explored at undergraduate level and conduct research independently for coursework and my dissertation. While I knew that completing the MSc would be a step-up from my previous studies, it was reassuring to know from my experience at undergraduate level that the lecturing team were extremely supportive and that I could reach out with any questions or worries. Combined, the expertise and supportiveness of the lecturing team were the key factors in my decision to undertake the MSc Historical Studies at Strathclyde.

What do you enjoy most about your course?
One of the most enjoyable aspects of my course were the classes, where my lecturers encouraged us to put forward ideas and opinions at a more in-depth level than during my undergraduate degree. This made the classes interesting as hearing the arguments and opinions of other students encouraged each of us to consider different perspectives and develop a greater understanding of the topics that we were discussing. In addition to these classes, I enjoyed learning new skills in specialist subjects such as Palaeography and completing coursework alongside friends that I made on the course.

What have been some of the main challenges of studying a Postgraduate degree?
The main challenge that comes to mind when considering my MSc is completing the dissertation. This is largely down to the volume of research that had to be undertaken and the quality of work that is expected at postgraduate level. Particularly when beginning my dissertation research, it was challenging to balance this alongside finishing coursework for my MSc modules. While it wasn't always easy, I found that the encouragement provided by my lecturers, supervisor and other students helped me to stay motivated.

What specialist knowledge/professional skills have you developed whilst studying?
The classes I completed during the MSc allowed me to develop in-depth knowledge about the areas that I studied. I really enjoyed gaining new practical skills when completing the Palaeography class, as this was something slightly different to my other classes and those that I completed during my undergrad.

Tell us about the support you received from your supervisor and the wider Strathclyde team...
During the MSc, I always felt able to reach out to my supervisor and lecturer with questions or to ask for help. The support that I recieved had a really positive influence on my experience of the course and helped me to stay motivated when completing coursework and my dissertation. The supportiveness of the lecturing team definitely contributed toward my enjoyment of the course and helped me to reach my potential.

What would be your advice for prospective students considering applying for this course next year?
I would encourage students who are considering a MSc in History to research all aspects of the course, including the classes offered and requirements for the dissertation. Personally, I found this helpful when preparing for the course and developing an understanding of what would be expected of me. Additionally, I would encourage prospective students to contact the lecturing team with any specific queries, as I found that they were always happy to have a chat and offer more information.

What are your ambitions for the future and how do you think your time at Strathclyde will help you achieve your goals?
I hope to keep developing in my current role with the Civil Service and find out exactly what that will look like over the next few years. My time at Strathclyde has undoubtedly equipped me with skills, experience and confidence that will aid me going forward. I've learned how to be disciplined and self-driven, which will be advantageous no matter where my career takes me.