Jenny Speakman

MA Social and Cultural History
Talking about
Postgraduate study

“I chose to study my postgraduate course at the University of Leeds because I thoroughly enjoyed my undergraduate degree, especially the research and archival aspect of historical studies. I understood that postgraduate history would involve more of this kind of study so I was excited to expand my research skills and have that extra qualification that would set me apart from others when applying for jobs.

The University of Leeds is an incredibly friendly and welcoming environment. I have loved being in a city-based university, being close to the city centre and surrounding green areas is a big plus and the variety of environments means there’s always something to do. The support staff are also very helpful and understanding so I have never felt particularly lonely during my time at university.

I feel a part of my university the most when I spend time in communal spaces on campus with friends and course-mates. The social spaces in Leeds University Union are the best areas to socialise and relax, and the busy and friendly environment reminds you that you are a student at a great university. 

I wasn’t always very confident in my academic abilities but making the most of assessment feedback and tutor office hours has helped improve my self-confidence. Chatting to a tutor about my worries or about certain skills I would like to develop has helped improve my academic skills and eased any anxiety I have felt towards difficult assignments. I have never felt like a burden or like I was asking silly questions, the tutors are always supportive and concerned with progress and personal welfare.

My mental health is something that I have struggled with during both my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and I have often found it difficult to find the motivation to keep up with my work. I am overcoming this challenge by communicating my struggles with the University and with my tutors who have all been very understanding and supportive. Leeds University Union also has a very helpful mental health service that is accommodating to students of all backgrounds.

The advice I would give to other postgraduate students coming to the University is to make sure that you have a clear idea of how you will finance your degree, your accommodation and your personal life. Postgraduate study can be quite overwhelming compared to undergraduate in that the government loan system is quite different and may not cover every cost. Come up with a plan and a budget before you start to reduce stress during term time and communicate with the University to see if there are any bursaries available to you. And remember to set aside some funds for social activities because these are equally as important for your own wellbeing!”

Jenny Speakman was supported by the Plus Programme.