Elizabeth Bowsher

MSc Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies

Why did you choose to study at Strathclyde?

The Strathclyde course was well structured, built on experience and the MSc was a recognised genealogy and general qualification.  Also, the Strathclyde’s FutureLearn genealogy course gave me quite a good sneak preview of the general areas the course might cover and gave me a feel for Strathclyde’s approach.

From a developmental perspective I was keen to do a dissertation, although at that time I didn’t have a subject matter in mind.

What do you enjoy most about your course?

The breadth of learning.  The course took me out of my comfort zone, but in a structured and supported way.  Genealogists usually begin by being self-taught, so we find out what we think we know.  The course made sure that our learning was given firm foundations by putting information in its context and it made sure that we found out what was available and used new knowledge and techniques to best effect.

The tutors were always both constructively critical and supportive.  Areas such as in genetic genealogy and heraldry were new to me and I was surprised by how fascinating they were.  Finding out more about Scottish and Irish records was also really useful and I think, if you want to practice in genealogy, that its vital that you are able to understand the systems and nuances of records not only in the UK but across the world.

What advice would you give to a prospective student coming to study your course?

  • Approach the assessments as pieces of client work that you want to present to your client to best effect.
  • The feedback and constructive criticism from the tutors is really valuable - it will help you to exceed what you think you are capable of.
  • Make sure you take the time to really immerse yourself in the course so that you can really benefit from it.
  • Begin your preparation for assessments ahead of fortnightly tutorials so that you can raise any questions and that you understand the clues or the thinking frame the tutor can provide.
  • Prepare for tutorials and be prepared to contribute – the people on the course have valuable genealogical and life experience that can help you think differently even if you have a different view of the world.

What specialist knowledge/professional skills have you developed studying your course?

  • Across the board genealogical and research skills and a better understanding of where my own personal strengths and weaknesses lie.
  • The real strength of the course was in providing a frame for thinking about the strength of evidence and understanding how to analyse and frame information.
  • The knowledge and skills that would enable me to approach any genealogical question as a professional.

How is your course helping to enhance your current career and prepare you for your future career?
As a qualified genealogist I am using my skills to develop my genealogical practice.  My dissertation also allowed me to look in depth at life assurance and I suspect it has engendered a lifelong interest in them – I hope I will be able to develop a PhD from them!

What are your ambitions for the future and how do you think your time at Strathclyde will help you achieve your goals?
I have a range of projects and business ideas which I want to take forward and a plan to make them happen.  Not only did my time studying  let me gain new knowledge and skills, it also provided an opportunity for personal reflection and growth and to refresh and reenergise and to see new possibilities.