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Oliver Polhill English Literature Masters

Oliver Polhill's Photo

Hi, I am Oliver Polhill studying English Literature Masters.

I completed my undergraduate degree here so had a good rapport with the staff and knew that the quality of teaching was good.

What made you choose to come and study at Southampton?

I completed my undergraduate degree here so had a good rapport with the staff and knew that the quality of teaching was good.

When choosing Southampton for my undergraduate degree, I liked the range of optional modules.

What were you anxious about before coming to Southampton, and once here were these fears overcome?

I had heard that being a university student was a more formal experience than, say being an A-level student. But the staff are very welcoming and approachable.

What is it like studying here?

Work-life balance is what you make of it. I spend the majority of my time working and researching, it pays dividends to stay a step ahead to stop your workload getting the best of you. But you are never given more than you can manage, so you will always have time to have a social life.

How do you rate study facilities at the University, such as the Library?

The Library is very easy to use. It gets very busy during exam periods though, so my advice is always to get there early to guarantee yourself a spot.

What have been your Southampton ‘highlights’ (best experiences) so far?

Having my undergraduate dissertation selected to be displayed as an exemplar piece was a big highlight for me, it confirmed that all the blood, sweat and tears were absolutely worth it.

What other activities have you taken advantage of while at University?

I have been writing for The Edge (the student union’s entertainment magazine) for the last four years, and even held a committee position last year. That was very rewarding, if a little tiresome to fit in with study for my dissertation.

Have you had any exposure to employer involvement or research-led learning during your course?

The Research Skills modules at MA level deal well with this, providing a chance to critique how you personally work on your essays.

What are you enjoying most about your course?

I love being treated more as a fellow scholar by staff and students, there’s a real sense at MA level that you’re a part of a wider, supportive research community. Even at undergraduate I felt that, but your peers and colleagues help academically nurture you which is well worth it in the long run.

Do you have the opportunity to study modules outside of your core subject area?

At undergraduate I took several elective modules in philosophy, that satisfied a personal interest I have in C17 - 19th philosophical thought but also helped me become a better scholar of literature.

What networking, employment and work experience opportunities have you undertaken and how have they enhanced your undergraduate experience?

The English Society hold a networking day twice (I think?) a year where former students come and talk about their career paths etc. The university is very good at offering employment advice, I have only been into one or two drop-in sessions because I already know the direction I’d like to go in.

Do you have any idea of what you would like to do in the future? Have the opportunities you have taken up while at the University helped you have a clearer idea of what you might like to do?

University helped clarify the path I’d like to take, which is going into academic research and/or teaching. It’s a long and hard road, but the advice I have garnered from various members of the department, friends and careers advisors has helped shape my decision.

What advice would you offer to potential students?

Don’t be scared of making mistakes. Because you’re paying to study it can seem like one little error brings everything tumbling down and can put a great amount of pressure on you. Honestly, there is room to make mistakes. Hell, the first grade I got back was one mark above a fail, and now I have a first in one degree and am heading for a first in the other! The staff will be there for you, as will your peers and parents etc. Nobody is going to stand by and watch you fail. That being said, learn from your mistakes so that you can do better next time.

Did you stay in University accommodation?

Yes, I stayed in South Hill halls from 2013 - 14. Many of the friends I have now were made in halls or through people I met in halls. The accommodation itself was good, well-kept and homely.

Do you like living in Southampton?

Everything is very accessible in Southampton, transport links are fabulous and the amount of restaurants, shops, clubs, etc leaves you spoilt for choice. It’s a few hours to London on the train and the New Forest is right on our doorstep. As with any large city, there are places you want to avoid but on the whole Southampton is a nice place to be.

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