What undergraduate course did you study and where?
BA Combined Honours in Arts with English and Sport from Durham University
Why did you choose to do you MSc at Loughborough?
During my undergraduate degree I majored in English literature, but the flexible nature of the degree provided me with the opportunity to explore other subject areas and I specifically enjoyed the several modules that I took in sports department.
I also had offers for a Masters from two other universities, but Loughborough was the only sports-based course that I applied to. I eventually decided that I wanted to pursue this option in order to intensify what I touched upon during my undergraduate and maximise my chances to find a job in sports.
I felt that Loughborough was the ideal place to do this, because it offers me the chance to focus very specifically on a certain aspect of sports that I wanted to explore (sport, society, and sociology), while other courses tend to be broader and/or Sports Science based. Moreover, Loughborough’s outstanding reputation for sports studies really made coming here a no-brainer.
How are you funding your degree?
I have pursued the option of part-time work and odd jobs whenever I could to boost my budget. I am receiving funding from the Disability Service to help me with the transcripts for my Master’s project, because I have a hearing disability. As a European student I am not eligible for DSA, and therefore I am extremely grateful for this generous support.
What do you enjoy most about your degree?
On my course we all come from different academic backgrounds; we’ve arrived at this point through a variety of different undergraduate routes and even at postgraduate level we share modules with other degrees or sports science students opt to take an elective with us. Furthermore, there are very different interests within a subject area as broad as this one, which means we all have varied perspectives on certain issues. This always creates a lively debate.
Most importantly, however, I really appreciate the fact that everyone – staff and students – seem genuinely passionate about the subject and about their viewpoints, which makes the debate much more engaging than it may at times have been when I was an undergraduate student. This has enabled me to learn about many different perspectives and to see aspects I didn’t consider before. The coursework questions also allow everyone to pursue very specific interests, which is ideal.
What do you think of the teaching quality and facilities?
The staff at the school has been fantastic and everyone - from the lecturers, to PhD students assisting classes to the secretaries - have been really helpful. Of course there are always lecturers and teachers that one personally prefers over others, but generally the teaching within the department lives up to its reputation. However, the valuable aspect of my degree was that whenever I felt like I had a question, that I might be struggling or I needed an open ear to listen to my concerns, someone was available to meet me and offer advice.
There is computer facilities everywhere on campus and it’s usually never a problem to get a spot there, even if exam period may be more crowded that other times of the year. The library has a decent stock of books for sports students. If you can’t find something you are looking for, the library staff are very helpful and there is always the option of asking the department or a specific lecturer if they have a certain text available.
What kind of exciting things do you get to do on your course?
I don’t want to create any illusions: Sociology is a theory-based subject, which always means you will be spending long hours at the library having your head buried in oversized books.
However, what I really enjoy is the opportunity to engage in really interesting discussions during every class. A course as small as this one enables everyone to get to know each other really well and caters for intensive arguments that elsewhere are only possible in fortnightly (or even less frequent) seminars and tutorials. You will also be able to meet and study with some of the leading academics in their respective field, which is a pretty exciting thing in itself.
What would you say to someone considering studying your degree?
Obviously, I think Sociology of Sport is the greatest subject ever and everyone should study it. On a more serious note, however, it’s important to go into the degree with the right expectations. It’s perhaps true that sociology can be a less strictly science-based option for people interested in sports, but nevertheless, this doesn’t mean it’s an easy option. A Master’s degree is always going to be hard work.
I’d recommend Sociology of Sport to anyone who wants to find out more about the wider implications of sports for our society and our lives. I think the discipline is unique in the way that it is one of the few areas of sport studies, whose prime concern is not necessarily improving sports or athletic performance, but questioning it and seeing it in a wider context. If you have a passion for sports, like to think outside of the box and don’t mind the odd social theorist, then I’d definitely recommend the course.
How have you found your experience at LU?
The postgraduate community is much more international than what I have been previously used to and thus my circle of friends has also been more diverse. There is an especially large community of Asian and particularly Chinese students. It has been a pleasure to get to know their cultures and lifestyles.
I can’t say much about services offered for international students, because I have felt more like a home student with my previous experiences in the UK. However, I know some of my friends have made use of the pre-sessional workshops offered to foreign students and there seems to be plenty of opportunity to take language classes for those who wish to improve their English.
What support have you had from the University?
I have only had positive experiences whenever I have contacted any services outside of my department. The Disability Service has been truly terrific. I have also made good experiences with the Careers and Employability Service, who have offered their support when I had some problems obtaining my national insurance number. They also managed to give me a last minute advisor slot, when I was desperate for some really short-notice feedback on a job application.
What do you think of the social atmosphere on campus?
To be honest, as a postgraduate student living off-campus and being on an extremely small course like mine it can be quite difficult to make friends, especially when you are used to having a wide social circle. Thus, I recommend to anyone to just put themselves out there and make the most of their time in Loughborough by getting involved in sports, clubs, societies and volunteering.
There is quite a variety of options. Every university is different and what Loughborough definitely caters for is my interest in sport. I’m nowhere near a pro-athlete myself, so I was a little worried that I wouldn’t actually have the opportunity to play sports at a university like this, but I couldn’t have been more wrong!
Some of the AU clubs are actually more than happy to take beginner members and I have had the amazing chance to try polo, which even as an experienced horseback rider, was entirely new to me. Even as a complete beginner I am getting the opportunity to don the Loughborough Purple at the University Nationals later this summer, something I would have never expected in the beginning of the year. Moreover, the MyLifestyle sports and classes cater for all abilities and I have not only been able to take up tennis again, which I hadn’t played in ages, but also some sports I never thought I’d try, such as cricket.
The good thing about these opportunities is that it is just about having fun and you can just turn up whenever you wish to, which is ideal for Masters students with odd deadlines and busy schedules. What I missed though, is playing sports in a permanent team, not so much for the exercise but for the experience and social bonding. Therefore, I recommend any postgraduate to affiliate with a hall at the beginning of the year, as this will give them the opportunity to join an Intramural Team that plays in an actual league but isn’t quite as competitive as the University teams.
However, the best aspect about my time here has been my involvement as a volunteer for Loughborough Sport. The Coach and Volunteer Academy is a really professionally organised and structured body that caters for anyone who wants to get involved in the high-profile sport as a non-athlete. Together with another student volunteer I have been the Media and Marketing Officer for Loughborough Football. This has been a tremendous experience that was not only fun, but also has improved my skills as a writer, photographer and marketer and is definitely something to make my CV a little shinier. Travelling to the BUCS finals to cover for Lboro sport, marketing the Loughborough International Athletics and securing some paid work as a photographer have definitely been my highlights of this year.
What do you enjoy most about being a student here?
The aspect I appreciate most about Loughborough is that it truly offers the whole package. If you want to study sports it is the place to be academically anyway, but the University also offers so many opportunities to develop on a personal level and enhance other skills. At the same time I get the impression that no student is left behind. Moving to a new place is never easy and we all struggle with different aspects, but if you ask for help, there is always going to be someone at Loughborough who listens.
What do you hope to do when you graduate, and how will your Loughborough degree support this?
My plans aren’t set in stone yet, but I know for sure that at one point in my life I’d like to work in sports PR and marketing and that I also want to study to get a PhD. I don’t think there is any place that could have offered me a better mixture of academia and extracurricular activities to prepare me for this path. Loughborough enjoys an excellent reputation in those circles and while you are here you are likely to make valuable connections as well.
How has Loughborough University inspired you?
If I wanted to put labels on my time here ‘inspiring’ would certainly be a good fit. It has shown me that I can not only work hard, but this work pays off in the amazing experiences I’ve made and the incredible people I’ve met.
The foundation of this was surely my involvement with Loughborough Sport through the Coach and Volunteer Academy. Loughborough Sport may be synonymous with sporting success and being BUCS Champions about every year since anyone can remember, but what makes it truly great is that it also stands for giving everyone an opportunity to develop through their passion for sport on so many other levels. That I have skills that can contribute to this is definitely something that inspires me to pursue a career in sports.