I was initially attracted to Loughborough due to the vibrancy of the campus life and the diversity of the course content on the BA English programme. This was then reinforced by conversations I had with current students and lecturers on the visit days I attended. I loved my time as an undergraduate at Loughborough, and the experience was a big factor in my decision to come back to study here at postgraduate level. Loughborough has also been ranked as 2nd in the UK for English and Creative Writing this year, which also demonstrates the quality of teaching in the department as well as the love students have for the programmes here. I studied for a BA in English at Loughborough University in 2015, and then completed a Graduate Internship with the Marketing and Advancement Team in 2018. I chose to work for a few years before beginning my MA, which allowed me to take time to develop myself independently as a writer before coming back into postgraduate study with a better understanding of what I wanted to achieve in my work.
A comprehensive insight into creative writing
I was attracted to the course content of MA Creative Writing and the Writing Industries and the breadth of the modules covering everything it takes to develop your skills as a successful writer, including modules around publication and targeting your work for specific audiences. I saw the course as a good way to gain more research skills that I could deploy in my work, as well as a more in-depth look into specific genres of writing. I wanted to expand on the research that I began as an undergraduate, and the MA course was the perfect way to do this, as well as further developing my skills as a writer on a specialised course. My research interests surround trauma narratives and the ethical implications of ‘othering’ within fiction, and I wanted to deepen my understanding of these through the MA. I also wanted to learn about how best to market my own writing to industry professionals and develop more knowledge of the publishing sector from an author’s perspective.
One of my major motivations for returning to Loughborough for postgraduate study was the quality of teaching in the department that I experienced as an undergraduate. Several of our MA modules are ‘team-taught’ by a number of different lecturers, which gives us the chance to discover a broad range of expertise and approaches. The module content is also very diverse; currently in one of my modules we are working together to put on a Literary Festival event and examining all the financial, programming and publicity elements that come with running a successful event.
A strong support network
One of the things that I think makes English at Loughborough so special is the genuine care and compassion you receive from the department across the course of your degree. I have felt fully supported, in and out of lectures, by members of the department who have helped me to shape my work and are genuinely passionate about helping you to further your research interests. Studying part-time around a full-time job presents its own set of challenges, which means a lot of the independent study required for my course takes place in the evenings or at weekends. I have been very fortunate that my tutors are so understanding and accommodating to my working hours, and I have felt fully supported both whilst on and off campus. I tend to spend my evenings and weekends in Pilkington library, sourcing the material that I will need for the following week’s lectures, as well as catching up on notes and drafting my upcoming assignments.
At the moment, I am focusing on honing my skills and crafting pieces which I can hopefully start to submit to writing competitions or journals for publication. I am hoping that by the time it comes for me to write my MA dissertation, I will have a fully formed idea for a collection of short stories, or part of a novel that I could begin to contact literary agents with. I have also not fully ruled out applying for a PhD in order to further my research, but we will just have to see on that one!
My advice for applicants
The greatest skills I've learned during my master's so far are time management and self-discipline. I think in part this has come from balancing my full-time job around studying, but also there is so much more independent study required for a postgraduate degree, so I have had to become much better at managing my time and ensuring that readings and pre-lecture tasks are completed in good time. I would advise that even if you feel established in writing in one specific genre or time period, prepare to be open minded and experiment with a variety of different styles. You may uncover an area that you’d have never even considered before. Also, if you don’t know where your interests lie yet, that’s ok too! I have a much greater understanding of which direction I want my work to go in now, but initially all I knew was that I wanted to develop my skills as a writer. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to have it all figured out on day one.
I have been a student ambassador for both the University and the Department from the second year of my undergraduate programme. My favourite events to work are the departmental visits days where it was actually speaking with an ambassador on my own visit day that convinced me to ultimately choose Loughborough. It’s very strange to me that things have come full circle and that I actually get to represent the department on visit days myself now.