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Shikha Sharma Eighteenth-Century Studies (MA)

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Hi I am Shikha Sharma studying Eighteenth-Century Studies (MA).

I am most interested in the eighteenth century; therefore, I was looking for an MA programme that focused on literature from that era. Southampton offers an astounding Eighteenth-Century Studies MA that has opened my eyes to not only eighteenth-century literature but visual and material culture too.

What made you choose to come and study at Southampton?

When researching different Masters programmes, I was looking for a university that would not only develop skills obtained during my time as an undergraduate but that would also offer a sense of freedom to discover new and unique modes of research in my area of interest. Southampton does exactly that. I am most interested in the eighteenth century; therefore, I was looking for an MA programme that focused on literature from that era. Southampton offers an astounding Eighteenth-Century Studies MA that has opened my eyes to not only eighteenth-century literature but visual and material culture too. The aspect that appealed to me most was the partnership between the Faculty of Humanities at Southampton and Chawton House Library.

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

Before coming to Southampton, I was anxious about the jump from undergraduate to postgraduate studies. I did not really know what to expect. Our first meeting was an induction seminar where we had a chance to interact with all other MA students as well as our lecturers. This was new for me; as an undergraduate student you do not really have a chance to socially interact with lecturers. From the first day the university staff created an environment which was relaxed, exciting and motivating. I felt welcome as a postgraduate student and was repeatedly reminded of the fact that I am now part of the postgraduate community who work alongside each other. This was extremely encouraging to hear and I could not wait to get started!

What is it like studying here?

 

Being a student at Southampton is great. The university is aware of the importance of a good work-life balance. As students, we are made aware of all advanced preparation and reading for our weekly seminars and are familiarised with the facilities to access resources at the beginning of the semester.

The lecturers are very supportive. Whenever I have asked to arrange a tutorial to discuss essays or to gain feedback on my work, they are always more than happy to meet and always offer great advice.

 

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

Hartley Library is outstanding. The material available is exceptional, and the content of the library have proved to be extremely useful in my research. One of the most exciting features of Hartley Library is the Special Collections. I was able to visit and explore the extensive collection of literary manuscripts from the poet and former English professor F.T. Prince.

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

 

Since starting at Southampton I have attended numerous research seminars, workshops and conferences. This has been extremely exciting because I have been exposed to scholarly discourses from a wide range of individual: from poets, to musicians, to lecturers from neighbouring universities!

These seminars have been a highlight for me because they do not only add to my own personal development – in terms of honing presentational skills – but have also opened my eyes to different paths of research that are taking place within the field.

Have you had any exposure to employer involvement or research-led learning during your course? How did this help you grow academically or personally?

 

As part of my course, we have had the opportunity to lead seminars with our own personal research. For two of my option choices in the first semester, we were all asked to choose an available seminar topic. Our task was to individually prepare for that particular seminar. Our findings and ideas would lead the direction of the seminar discussion.

To know that it is your ideas and approach to the given text that is leading the seminar discussion is exciting and motivating. This opportunity enabled me to recognise my own presenting ability, whilst also allowing me to grow academically by considering other school of thoughts by conversing with others in the seminar.

What are you enjoying most about your course?

I enjoy the freedom. When I first started the MA, the idea that we form our own essay questions was rather daunting; however, I soon realised how fun it is to use your own ideas to create essay titles, rather than manipulating your ideas to fit with given essay titles and questions. My lecturers have encouraged me to pursue my area of interest and to seek ways in which it can be associated with particular topics. I have really enjoyed the freedom of working with my own ideas and approaches.

 

Do you have the opportunity to study modules outside of your core subject area, and how do you think they are adding to your experience / will affect your future plans?

 

My first semester saw me choosing Literature and Law as an option. Initially, this did not seem to fit in to my Eighteenth-Century Studies MA. The unit introduced me to a range of different theoretical approaches to reading literature, law and literary and legal texts side by side. The best thing I got from choosing Literature and Law was the ability to think critically about the limitations of the legal system, and the ways in which literature responds to the capacities and incapacities of law.

My essay for this module examined the legal system in an eighteenth-century text. I was able to combine my passion for the eighteenth century with the legal knowledge I gained from the module. By having the opportunity to study a module outside of my core subject area, I was able to approach an area that was familiar to me in a novel and unique manner.

 

Do you have any idea of what you would like to do in the future?

 

We have had the opportunity to talk to PhD students about their experience which was really useful. We are able to ask them their advice and seek guidance on future decisions. It was extremely beneficial talking to students who are going through the process that a lot of us are considering.

The university also holds career fairs which are open to all students. Having attended one, I was able to get a clearer sense of direction in terms of future career choices.

What advice would you offer to potential students?

 

My advice for potential students would be to always keep your eyes open for new opportunities and to expect the unexpected. When I started my English Literature degree I never thought that I would gain such a large interest in the eighteenth century and now, having completed my undergraduate dissertation which focused on the eighteenth century, I am completing an Eighteenth-Century Studies MA!

Picking such a focused MA programme may seem daunting; however, Southampton’s interdisciplinary approach allows you to work across fields and gain a wider understanding that contributes to your personal research and development.

 

Do you like living in Southampton?

I thoroughly enjoy living in Southampton. It is a great city that offers a range of cultural and social settings, from museums to West Quay! The transport system in Southampton is brilliant, with a reliable bus system that drops you off across the university’s campuses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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