Studying a Master’s in English at UCC, blog by James Campion
The MA I took with UCC’s School of English was entitled “Irish Writing and Film”. It lasted one year, and was divided broadly into two parts. For the first of these, our group (there were four of us) attended twice weekly classes given by lecturers who were experts in their respective fields. Due to the small size of our group, classes often took on a conversational aspect, where everyone contributed to a collective dialogue of shared information, opinion and insight. This allowed much scope for lengthy discussion of the particular text / theory we were studying at the time. These two-hour sessions were, as such, a bountiful source of enjoyment. I doubt I will forget those hours of engagement in informed debate, helped no end by the camaraderie of our group!
The second part of the year was devoted to the writing of an MA thesis, a task which had hovered around us ever since the beginning of our year together. Writing the thesis was a gradual process, spread out over five months. For me, it was essential to allow my ideas to crystallise over a period of time before I began any concerted attempt to actually write. I needed enough patience to give my ideas a chance to form a coherent whole, while also remaining (relatively!) calm during the process.
Life as an MA student brought a variety of challenges and rewards. It was a case of persisting through the hours spent reading, taking notes and reflecting, so that I could enjoy the wonderful feeling of submitting a bound thesis all the more. Holding a thesis that I myself had succeeded in producing was a great thrill. The development of my critical skills would have been impossible without the direction and insight of the lecturers for the course, some of whom I had the good fortune of working closely with on my thesis. Above all else, studying for an MA with UCC’s School of English was a process of continual discovery. Apart from obtaining a much deeper knowledge of my research area, I came away with a rare sense of fulfilment at having produced a piece of critical writing which would undoubtedly stand to me in the years to come.