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Mark_B
Friday, 30 August 2013 at 12:52am
Monday, 23 March 2020 at 10:46am
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Thread: Excelling at MA English Studies

posted
09-Sep-13, 19:06
by Mark_B
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posted about 7 years ago
Hi Again!

Re. scholarship: essentially you'll want to demonstrate that you've read up on the subject area and are aware of the major positions that have been taken on it. These are usually very obvious once you begin researching an area, particularly on a taught course where your tutors will recommend secondary reading. Key sources / studies will usually reference each other too, so the "paper trail" is easy to follow . A really good MA answer will then comprehend these existing positions and situate its own original thinking in relation to them. This is part of the way a humanities MA teaches you to become an effective researcher within an existing field of scholarship.

Does your course include a core module or two on research methods? If so, you'll be introduced to processes for effective research. One of the tasks I was given on my MA involved compiling an annotated bibliography on a topic of my choice. This meant reading an awful lot of journal articles and monographs then recording them as MLA style citations with 3-4 sentence summaries. A tough exercise at first, but a really helpful one.

Re. questions: you're quite likely to be asked to develop your own essay topic and agree it with a tutor in advance when the time comes for assessment. You'll get a lot of guidance therefore, so don't worry too much about this in advance. As cliche'd as it is to say, the best questions to ask are ones you've developed an enthusiasm for during a module - I usually found myself developing an interest in something after a few weeks and keeping it in mind as the course proceeded - shaping some of my approaches to subsequent primary material / secondary reading accordingly. Not miles apart from a BA really!

Key to both questions is effective organisation and note-making. No substitute for it!

Hope that helps a bit and still happy to chat - keynote is that you should get lots of guidance from tutors once your course gets rolling!

Mark

Thread: PhD about Roman Catholic Church Law

posted
05-Sep-13, 11:09
edited about 18 seconds later
by Mark_B
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posted about 7 years ago
Not my area at all, but my cousin completed a PhD on medieval Canon Law at Cambridge. Her name's Danica Summerlin and she's currently post-docing here:

http://www.kuttner-institute.jura.uni-muenchen.de/index_e.htm

Thread: Excelling at MA English Studies

posted
04-Sep-13, 13:40
by Mark_B
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posted about 7 years ago
Hi Datefillets

I'm a current PhD in English Lit, having taken an MA in a lit specialism a few years ago - both at UK institutions.

First up, I think it's easy to forget that postgrad study is still a learning process. Noone's expected to walk onto a course, instantly start producing distinction-level work and then just go through the motions for a year and graduate (if anyone is able to do that, I'd like to borrow their brain for the rest of my doctorate). Whatever level you start at, you'll get better - I picked up a distinction on my MA, but I didn't get a distinction on the first paper I wrote for it.

Feedback is an important part of that process, so make sure you know how to access your tutors and make the most of their expertise, advice, etc. Distance learning may make this seem trickier, but your course should be set up in a way to mitigate that.

As for producing distinction-level work, that's also a conversation to have with instructors. In a nut-shell, a lot of the step-up from BA to MA (in Literature, at least) concerns research. A good BA essay will be able to identify one or two relevant critical sources, apply and perhaps interrogate them. A really good MA essay will have a much more complete sense of the contours of a relevant critical field and try to take its arguments forward within that. That's part of the learning process too - you'll almost certainly be given some research training and your teaching will encourage you to employ that.

Hope that helps a bit - happy to try and answer any more specific questions.

Good luck!

Mark

Thread: Applying for PhD

posted
30-Aug-13, 01:18
by Mark_B
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posted about 7 years ago
Hi Emma

For what it's worth, I submitted proposals to two institutions and undertook email correspondence with them about the project - neither had any problem with that.

Thread: PhD for me?

posted
30-Aug-13, 01:10
by Mark_B
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posted about 7 years ago
Hi TolkeinTeddy

I'm a PhD student in lit, nearing the end of my research now.

In my experience a 2:1 on your BA shouldn't be a deal-breaker at all - I've known several really great research students without first class undergraduate degrees. If you've done well with the research component of your BA and produce a solid MA dissertation that should be enough to convince institutions that you've got what it takes to tackle a research project in your field.

It's possible that funding will be slightly harder to come by in theory as panels look to distinguish between large numbers of worthy applicants. That said, I can't imagine any funding body would ignore a strong, well-supported, doctoral proposal purely on the basis of an undergraduate degree.

As for the writing, well, that's one of the things studying a PhD will help you develop. At my institution we actually have a first year doctoral "module" on academic writing.

If you're keen and you've enjoyed your MA, my advice would be to go for it!
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