April 5, 2023, by UoN School of English

Podding along: studying a distance learning MA as a mature student

It seems a lifetime ago when I was timidly embarking upon the Applied English Distance Learning MA back in 2020. I remember feeling waves of self-doubt about completing MA – after so many years away from Higher Education – questions played on repeat through my mind, haunting me with fears of not being good enough, being too old, and being daft for thinking I could attempt the course. Now I look back and I am so glad that I embarked on this learning journey, which has changed my life for the better. 

The flexibility of Applied English, an online distance MA has been brilliant! I can study when it suits me, allowing me to devote time to my studies without missing out on spending time with my son. I often pop online to study after my son is asleep, and it is lovely to know I am only across the landing from him whilst tackling literary criticism or pulling together the tangled threads of my ideas. Instead of longer modules we study pods; this allows us to cover more topics and to vary our submission types beyond more traditional essays. I love that we have so much choice on the course – I’ve even been lucky enough to write some fairy-tale poetry and a vampire short story.  

For me, the global community of students and staff are what makes this MA so incredible. The tutors have been there every step of the way: providing support, guidance and reassurance. They really are the glue that brings everyone together as we develop our skills as researchers. This year I am one of two course representatives for Applied English and it is always inspiring and humbling to be able to represent the thoughts and ideas of such a talented group of students.  

The annual Applied English Summer School in 2022 was a real treat – it is amazing being taught by world leading researchers on the course and meeting some of them in person was truly magical. Seeing the stunning University Park campus and experiencing seminars with students who I had only previously met online was exhilarating.  

Despite my physical distance, The University of Nottingham feels like home … I finally have a place where I belong, and I am excited to see where the future leads me. 

– Gillian Walters

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