Jane Cessford

MRes in Historical Research

Why did you decide to study a postgraduate course?

As the end of my undergraduate degree approached I started to consider the possibility of a postgraduate course. I began my degree studying English, but found myself more interested in History and so I changed to a combined degree to make the most of both subjects. Towards the end of my degree I took my chances by applying to the University of Stirling excellent AHRC scholarship programme and, thankfully, I was lucky enough to secure my funding.

What attracted you to Stirling?

The University of Stirling on my doorstep, but regardless of this factor I would have considered it anyway because of the fantastic Access to Degree course it runs for mature students. It enabled me to try education again in a welcoming and encouraging atmosphere. Stirling Uni’s disability department also made my academic life easier to handle and provided me with the physical tools and emotional support I needed to succeed.

What did you enjoy most about your time at the University of Stirling?

Since completing my undergraduate degree I went on to do my MRes and, again thanks to AHRC funding, have just begun my PhD, so my journey at the University of Stirling by no means finished! But, if I were to generalise what I enjoy most about Stirling Uni I’d have to say that I appreciate the friendliness of the academic staff and the office staff who support them. I think it’s really important to foster a sense of community within the Uni and the staff achieve this through not only their excellence within their own fields, but also in their interactions with students.

Which aspects of the programme did you enjoy the most?

I enjoyed the high quality of teaching which made my postgraduate course worthwhile, as did the continual support and encouragement I received from both of my tutors. The MRes also encouraged me to think on a wider scale about my topic, an aspect of the postgraduate course which definitely led to me considering moving on to the PhD.

Do you think the degree has made you more employable, or better prepared for further study? If yes, what are the key skills? What contacts/networks have you made in your time at Stirling?

The MRes has definitely made me both more employable and ready to take on my PhD because it’s expanded my academic skills and has proven that I am willing and able to step up to the next level. I believe this is important to employers as it demonstrates dependability and perseverance. The contacts I have made with academic staff have also enabled me to widen my network within my own department and academic field.

What advice would you give a student considering studying at Stirling?

I would definitely encourage them to choose the University of Stirling in general, but in all honesty I would also encourage them to make use of the support networks which are available at the Uni too. Many students have learning problems and disabilities which can be identified and, as a result, they can be assisted along their educational journey, enabling them to complete their degree with the best result they’re truly capable of.

How would you summarise your time at Stirling?

It genuinely would not be unrealistic for me to use the term ‘life-changing’. I am a completely different person now from the person I was prior to starting my university journey. A better ‘me’, if you will.