I wanted to create a short blogpost to commemorate the end of my Masters course. The course technically finished a few weeks ago, when I submitted my MA Dissertation, entitled: Uncovering Herstory; Gender and Public History’s engagement with Fourth Wave Feminism. Though this year of study has been slightly tainted by the global pandemic and subsequent lockdown in the UK, I have nevertheless thoroughly enjoyed my time at the University of Southampton.
I spent my undergrad degree at the University of Birmingham, and whilst Birmingham and the History Department there taught me so much about the study and discipline of History (for which I am incredibly grateful), it was at Southampton that I truly began to discover what kind of historian I am. This was due mainly to the freedom given to us Masters students throughout our degree.
Every assignment, every research topic, every seminar discussion was essentially chosen by us, we had full autonomy over what we were studying, and what we learnt. Not only did the History Department at Southampton provide us with an array of seminar topics to chose from, but we had the freedom to chose our own research topics within these seminars, and each Professor led and advised us based on what we wanted to study. We were also provided with the option of doing an INT (individually negotiated topic) which acted as a mini-dissertation, wherein we researched any topic of our choosing, identifying the secondary and primary literature ourselves and working 1:1 with a supervisor. Of course there were also compulsory modules, weekly structures and set readings, but the discussions in our seminars felt open and engaged to our personal interests. I really appreciated how the MA was run because it allowed me to fully immerse myself in Gender History, and develop my own expertise on the subject. I have to give a massive thanks to Dr Chris Woolgar who led the Masters course and was the most helpful, comforting leader for us – especially during the lockdown months.
I would also like to specifically thank Dr Julie Gammon and Dr Charlotte Riley for aiding me in this. It was a joy to be taught by such engaging, intelligent woman and our discussions both in person and online were so helpful and exciting for me. Their dedication to their students and to their own fields really inspired me throughout the year, and I felt incredibly lucky to be taught by both of them. Julie taught and assessed 3 of my essays (two of which were INT’s that Julie encouraged and influenced immensely, which was so helpful) and I really appreciated the feedback and guidance she provided. Charlotte was my dissertation tutor, and supervised me online throughout lockdown, I felt so supported during this time, and I knew that Charlotte was always there to answer any question or query I needed. Aside from academic support, it was also just fantastic to talk about Gender History with both Charlotte and Julie and I am so thankful for the time and discussions that I had throughout my MA degree.
Out of all the essays I have written throughout my 4 years as History student, it is the ones written at the University of Southampton that I am most proud of. That is in part thanks to the History Professors at Southampton, and the modules they ran for us, but also down to the fact that I found my ‘academic voice’ this year, and truly locked in to what I am passionate about, and what I want to write.
The History MA at the University of Southampton was a great fit for me, and I am so happy I decided to apply. I want to thank Dr George Bernard, Dr Chris Woolgar, Dr John McAleer, Dr Julie Gammon and Dr Charlotte Riley for teaching me, guiding me and inspiring throughout the year.
I urge any students thinking about applying to Southampton to do so, it is a lovely course with a brilliant History department, and I guarantee you will enjoy your time there as much as I did.