Why do I want to go to University?

By: Sue Dukes who starts the MA Creative Writing this September.

Because I have the opportunity, because I really, really want to; because education doesn’t – shouldn’t – stop when you reach a milestone number of years.

After retiring from a lifetime of tedious work to keep family and home together, I decided to spend time doing what I want to do most:  writing fiction. I had a goal and was actively seeking a path to follow, and taking an MA turned out to be part of a logical progression.

I had small successes in genre fiction over the years, but, I was always working in a vacuum.  No editor has ever sat down with me to go through my work to indicate areas needing improvement; no agent has evinced the slightest interest in my work; and no rejection has ever come with a kindly note on how to progress. This will sound familiar to anyone who has ever tried to sell fiction.  No-one is out there to help you – they are out there to make money from the skills you have.

So, I needed to improve, but how?  Firstly I joined an Arts Council funded on-line group called YouWriteOn, which provided reciprocal assessment opportunities, and there I posted various literary offerings.  I received responses ranging from the pertinent to the bizarre.  I also provided assessments for others. The online group is a stepping stone and a sounding board which I might return to from time to time with new pieces; however, it’s time consuming and the responses as variable as the participants.

So where should I go next?  I discovered the Skibbereen writing group, and for the first time in my life began to interact face to face with a group of people interested in the art of writing.  We discuss the specific meanings of words, narrative viewpoints, grammar, and all the other associated topics. This is mind-broadening stuff. My horizons expanded.

Then I discovered UCC ran an MA in Creative Writing, and my reaction was instant: I WANT TO DO THAT.  It will provide a structured learning process and criticism from people qualified to give it. It will take my writing to a higher level.  I will be able to immerse myself in the world of writing.  It will push me to a new depth of awareness and competence.  I will read work I haven’t considered reading and gain information I don’t know I’m lacking.   I’ll receive the education and advice I’ve been seeking all my adult life.

Why UCC?  I’m lucky it’s my nearest university.  I’ve visited the campus a few times. I love the ethos and the atmosphere, yet when I visit I feel like an intruder into someone else’s world.  I want it to be my world, too.  Interacting with a group of people on the same wavelength will be as much an education as the lectures.  The MA might increase my chances of eventual publication, but above all, I intend to enjoy the educational experience.


I dreamt of UCC on a starry night

By: Noemi Magugliani who starts the LL.M. International Human Rights Law and Public Policy this September.


Everything starts with a dream, (some) people say. Well, my journey to Cork started off with a peculiar twist. A very special someone moved from grey Milan to green Cork and I dreamt of UCC on a starry night, while fighting the cold(est) spring in New Hampshire some months ago. I knew that the School of Law was one of the best and I thought: “Why not?”, and started working on application forms, motivational letter, documents and the nightmare of any international student: paperwork. I got the big news while I was driving (don’t tell the cops!) in Northern Italy, my mother couldn’t keep herself from unfastening her seatbelt and I had to pull over to let her hug me. And scream in my ear. And call half of the relatives. And cry because I was going to be gone for another year. But this is another story…

I was blown away by the idea of flying off to Ireland, which I had never seen before, starting the LL.M. in International Human Rights Law and Public Policy and joining the amazing UCC family, home to over 4.000 postgraduate students, the UCC ladies soccer team, my sweetheart. Many things have changed in the past few months, including my sentimental status, but not the excitement to join UCC. Craziness happened, that’s for sure, from accommodation to timetables, from finding a job to registration, from bank letters to overnight Ryanair flights. But here I am, in late August, packing my 15 kilos suitcase with the essentials: a bunch of winter clothes, my very special soccer shoes, a couple of evergreen books that I have been carrying around in my constant wandering and plenty of expectations. And coffee.

A new country, new mentors, new teammates, new friends; a brand new life waiting for me, a dream that will start feeling true the moment I will land in Dublin and get on a coach to Cork. Seminars, lectures, societies, clubs, meetings, papers – my small (maybe too small) agenda is already full of notes and things to do and places to see; my desire to learn, engage, participate is higher than ever. I fell in love with the University the moment I laid my eyes on its astonishing architecture, its green lawns and its magnificent libraries on a sunny August day. I fell in love with Cork walking down Oliver Plunkett Street, getting lost downtown, watching the sun setting on the water. I fell in love with Ireland as I saw its shape from the sky, amazed by its colours. And I can’t wait for it to conquer my heart and brain over and over again.


My Future Self

By: Marit Van Dijk who starts the MA in Geography: Cities, Space and Culture this September

When I turned seventeen I began a new tradition. Every three months I would write an online letter, to myself in the future, to be received, by myself, in exactly three months.  A website offering this service stores the letter, and then forwards it to you. Whenever I receive a letter from my past self, I reply to my future self within a week, which means that I write another letter to a future me, and so forth. By now (I recently turned 23) these letters have grown into a personal digital archive. Sometimes, when preparing for something big, I reread some of them, because they show me an early, less mature version of myself and help me to put things into perspective.

Whilst refolding a stack of jumpers (packing for Ireland!) I think about the first letters I wrote. Chock-full of grammatical errors, random capital letters and worries about how other people would perceive me. I hadn’t yet learned how to properly write about anything, let alone how to cram all my thoughts into words. I pick up the stack of jumpers, place them in my already full suitcase and doubt if they will suit the Irish winter.

Four years after I wrote my first letter, I was heading for an internship in Moscow. I was so stressed that I was hardly able to deal with the pressure.  In my letters I was asking my future self a lot of questions, aware of the fact that I would not receive an answer. However, the idea that I was exchanging letters with my future self and that she knew the answers, had a soothing effect.  When I received the letter in Moscow, I was startled. I already forgotten how scared I was and which fears and biases I had had about living in Russia.

I leave my suitcase be for a moment and reread the letter I’m about to send to November, when I will be in Cork. In this letter, I seem surprisingly confident and relaxed with the idea of moving to Cork and my decision to study at the UCC. Most likely because I told so many people how I ended up choosing the UCC, that at some point it got completely embedded in my brain.

Sitting on the floor, beside my suitcase, I realize something. Again, I have thought through the whole process of decision making. However, there is one issue that – for now – will remain unsolved. What will go through my future self’s mind when I read this letter again?

If you enjoy the concept of e-mailing your future self and want to try it out, just check https://www.futureme.org/  It’s free!

A long, winding road from Nebraska to UCC!

By: Jeff Davis who starts the HDip in Applied Computing Technology this September.

It has been a long, winding road that brought me to my HDip at UCC! I’m an American from Nebraska that was passing through Cork 8 years ago. The year before, I was living in San Diego and made friends with some J1’ers that lived next door to me in Mission Beach. I was in the process of moving when I stopped off in Dublin, and the lads thought it would be a good idea to pop down to the Jazz Festival in Cork. I met a girl in the Savoy that night, and 8 years later we have 2 kids and are happy out in Cork City.

I’ve always had an interest in IT, and after 12 years in Human Resources / Recruiting, I figured it was time for a change and the HDip was a perfect way to transition. For the last 5 years in Cork, I helped Computer Science Graduates find jobs, and loads came from UCC. Basically, I spent all day talking with people about taking a job doing what I really wanted to do! To get ready for the course, my 5 year old bought me a brand new pencil case and decorated it well with sparkles and glitter. All set. I am really looking forward to my new career in technology and the UCC HDip!

In the right place, doing what is right for me

By: Mary Tobin who starts the MA in Applied Psychology (Mental Health) this September.

I came to UCC as a mature student to do a BA in Applied Psychology. The combination of college, family responsibilities, work, and voluntary commitments was a challenge to manage at times. Two of the things that sustained me through my degree were my passion for my chosen course of study – and sharing that course with some of the friendliest, funniest, and most interesting people who I’ve met. For me, having a second chance at education meant that I was determined to ride out the occasional wobble and keep trying to do my best and engage fully with my studies.

An important part of the BA in Applied Psychology is the independent research project. I was lucky to have both the freedom and the support from my academic supervisor to carry out a research study of my own design, on a topic about which I care, with a community-based sample. Taking on this intensive research work built on my practical skills (such as participant recruitment and analysis) but also built up my sense of myself as a researcher and someone who belongs in this academic space. The milestones in my educational journey were these rare but recurring moments of gradual realisation: Yes, I actually know what I am about and what I am talking about.

The choice to do a postgraduate degree in UCC was a straightforward one. My chosen course – the MA in Applied Psychology (Mental Health) – is the only Masters degree in psychology in Ireland which has an integrated six month placement supervised by a clinical or counselling psychologist. The School of Applied Psychology in UCC has been building links with Adult Mental Health, Child and Adolescent Mental Health, and Intellectual Disability Services, as well as other psychological service providers including counselling, addiction services, services for older adults, and those for other vulnerable populations. This means that I will have the opportunity to work in a supervised placement – an advantage for any psychology graduate planning to apply to clinical doctorate programmes.

As well as a placement, the MA will also allow me to keep developing my research skills on another independent research project. I will also have the benefit of taught modules which are tailored for students pursuing the clinical psychology route.

Although I am apprehensive – to say the least – about the financial challenges of a postgraduate course in UCC, I know from my undergraduate experience that I am in the right place, doing what is right for me.


The Philosophy behind choosing UCC

By: Conor Nolan who starts the Philosophy HDip in Arts this September.

Every good story needs a back story:

In 2013 I graduated from my primary degree in Management Science. The rationale I used to choose this course were pragmatic, it was a technical course which would lend proficiencies in business, mathematics and computer science. I surmised this would increase my employability and it did. However, something was missing. After running the gauntlet of the job market and some serious soul searching, I found I had not followed my passion but rather my rational mind. In my search to find my passion, I did not find one but many.


It was British Philosopher Alan Watts who acted as my career guide. I learned about the Philosophies of the East and found I had a great love of wisdom and a new path to travel. Upon enquiry into postgraduate courses in Philosophy I found UCC’s Higher Diploma in Philosophy which covered oriental philosophies while giving a comprehensive choice of modules in every area I wished to learn about. The icing on the cake was that it was in Cork! I am from Athlone and although I am well-travelled I had never been to the real capital of Ireland. I had heard the stories and the accent but I needed to experience it first-hand. I have walked the campus grounds and I was very impressed with the quiet and relaxed atmosphere.


Cork city is vibrant, the people are cordial and always ready to chat, I have had several great conversations with Cork natives since I have arrived. I have sorted accommodation and a part-time job, so the academic year is really shaping up to be one to remember. There was some planning to be done to make this transition to Cork, finances had to be organised, research into the course modules had to be completed and living arrangements had to be made. These pieces have fallen into place beautifully and now I am looking forward to enjoying college life and all that Cork has to offer. I have to bring some essentials for my time in Cork; a desk and chair for doing college work while at home, my bedside lamp for doing any late night reading, my laptop, pens and paper for recording any miraculous ideas I might have and perhaps a skull for my desk to remind me of the value of time! I leave you with a quote from the Philosopher that inspired me to take choose this UCC course in Philosophy.


The only way to make sense of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance

Alan Watts

The Beginning of Something Extraordinary

By:  Laila Shwaiki who starts the MSc. in Food Microbiology this September

It wasn’t that long ago that I was attending my last few months of lectures as an undergraduate at, what was at the time, my current university. As soon as I applied for the postgraduate course in UCC, I knew things were going to change. As the months went by and my final exams were completed, I knew I had done my very best to try and get the grades required to be accepted into a place that could possibly be my life for the next year. As the summer months flew by, so did my desire for Cork and all its opportunities it had waiting for me. Once I knew my destination for the next 12 months, my next step was looking for a place to live. Anyone who has ever had the opportunity of searching for accommodation will agree with me when I say that it is one of the many unpleasant struggles of becoming a new student in a completely new environment. For me, it was a battle that I proudly conquered after many months of searching.

Many people have questioned my decision of choosing UCC as my next step for my studies; and all of the people that wondered this were never given the chance to experience the profundity and history that leached through the walls of the buildings and onto the rich grounds of the campus that preserves the culture that surrounds UCC. Other people who know UCC understood immediately why I chose a city so far from my comfort zone. I attended NUIG for four long and unforgettable years and got to explore every inch of its campus. UCC, to me, gave off that same intensity that I got from my first visit at NUIG. The history, the culture, the elegance of the buildings and the old but modernised feel that the whole campus was able to give me instantly won me over.

Two weeks before the big move and the next step in my journey was deciding what to bring with me to this new city. Like any person, personal belongings are a must in any big move; but what type of emotional baggage was I going to be bringing with me and what should stay behind? As a 21-year-old woman moving away from all her friends and family, what type of mentality should I have as I embrace the city life alone? Will my current mental state that has allowed me to get through the first part of my life be enough? As my new path for a new beginning edges closer, I’m finally beginning to understand that maybe there’s nothing extraordinary that I need to be bringing with me, because I know that UCC is going to give me everything I really need. And maybe more.

3 Reasons I’m going back to UCC to do a postgrad

quad-with-red-ivy By: Tim Kelly who starts the MSc Information Systems for Business Performance this September.

Quick question, what’s your plan when you graduate? Are you going to undertake a masters? maybe work? or travel? This is a question that reverberated throughout my mind as I undertook my final year of commerce, I expect many others thought about it as well. In fact, it wasn’t till June I decided to do a Masters and why did I go back to UCC? Well that was easy…….


“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

W.B Yeats

Truthfully, undertaking a Masters is a huge commitment not only of money (Thank God for the Credit Union) and time (a full 12 months). Thus I wanted to make sure when I return to college, the college would be well respected and a great institution to learn. Just last year, UCC was named the Sunday Time’s University of the Year.

As for my course, I minored in Information Systems throughout my BComm so therefore I will be undertaking a Masters in Information Systems for Business Performance (ISBP).  Its a healthy mixture between I.T and management skills and has been consistently ranked as one of the best postgraduate courses in Ireland. Just recently it won the Best Postgrad IT course in Ireland for the third time.


Another big factor in returning to UCC is I set up the Judo Club and it’s recently about to reach the 5 year mark. The Club has grown a lot to become the biggest college judo club in Ireland where it won Best Men & Women’s Team and 26 medals at the 2016 Intervarsities. I have been doing Judo for about 16 years and I’m glad UCC granted me the opportunity to set one up.

I even helped out in the Clubs Executive where I acted as the Martial Arts Representative in 2014/15 which helped me understand how each club is run. I may also be biased as I won a Bene Merenti award for my work.

JudoMain Campus

As a former BComm student, I’m fully aware of how spoilt I’ve been in regards to classes on main campus. It’s undeniably beautiful and for anyone who’s grown up on Harry Potter, the west wing and Aula Maxima are Hogwarts.  Of course, the Harry Potter society  really took it to the extreme with their House Sorting ceremony.

HARRY pOTTEROf course, main campus hosts the most activity as well particularly during R&G week and Freshers week. These events turn campus into a lively affair where you’ll meet everyone you know. My preference is those early summer days on campus where you can sit out and enjoy the sunshine on campus, they’re rare but spectacular.

Student CentreThose are my top three reasons why I’m returning to UCC next month. I hope you enjoyed them, and if you want to let me know why you’re thinking of doing a postgrad just tweet me at TK_174 (don’t forget to use the hashtag #uccpostgrad :))


The College of Medicine and Health Postgraduate Student Committee has organised three new events:

pg society

  1. The ‘SPEAK’ Workshop

Open to all postgraduate students at UCC.

A Monthly Meeting ‘Our aim is to improve public speaking skills.’ The meeting will run for two hours on a Tuesday Evening.

DATE: Tuesday 9th February 2016
VENUE AND TIME: Room 2.25 in Brookfield Health & Science Complex from 6:30 pm-8:30 pm.

PLEASE EMAIL: marc.osullivan@ucc.ie

Workshop involves:
Short presentations, giving positive feedback and thinking on your feet
Tea and Coffee Provided

2. Writing a Good Research Paper

Open to all College of Medicine and Health postgraduate students at UCC.

Workshop presented by Professor Ivan Perry.

DATE: Wednesday 17th February 2016
VENUE AND TIME: 3.04 Western Gateway Building, 12 noon to 2.00 pm

3. Social Media for Academics & Researchers

Open to all College of Medicine and Health postgraduate students at UCC.

Workshop presented by Dr Darren Dahly.

DATE: Wednesday 4th May 2016
VENUE AND TIME: G04 – Western Gateway Building, 11.00 am

The ‘SPEAK’ Workshop for Postgraduate Students

Postgraduate Student Committee, Graduate School of Medicine & Healthpg society


The ‘SPEAK’ Workshop

A Monthly Meeting

‘Our aim is to improve public speaking skills.’

The meeting will run for two hours on a Tuesday Evening

Third meeting is Tuesday January 12th

Room 2.25 in Brookfield Health & Science Complex from 19:30-21:30


PLEASE EMAIL: marc.osullivan@ucc.ie

Workshop involves:

Short presentations, giving positive feedback and thinking on your feet

Tea and Coffee Provided