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Postgraduate Student Profile: Kellie Maher, MA History

Kellie is a current student of the Masters in History programme at the University of Limerick. Kellie is currently doing her dissertation on Irish country houses as part of the MA programme. In this interview, she describes why she chose to study at UL, her experience of the Master’s programme so far, and her future plans.

Kellie Maher, MA in History student at the University of Limerick.

Can you please introduce yourself, Can you explain why you chose the MA?

I did my undergraduate degree in Maynooth University where I studied History and English literature. I started off with the intention of being a secondary school teacher. As I progressed, I realised that secondary school teaching wasn’t going to be the path for me. However, I loved history especially the research side of studying history. By the end of my undergraduate degree, I knew I wanted to pursue further study in history, with the hope of eventually becoming a lecturer.

Why at UL?

I’m from a small town in Kilkenny and I’ve always wanted to move away from home – to explore and gain more independence – so when I finished my degree in Maynooth I actually moved in with friends in Limerick. I worked down there for a year and then began looking at Masters courses. A lot of my friends studied at UL and absolutely loved it. In general, I had heard great things about the student life, the campus and the courses at UL from family and friends. When I looked further into the MA in UL, the modules really suited my particular interests; it really stood out among the other courses in Ireland.

How did you find out about the course?

It was mainly through my own web-research. I had heard such good things about UL from friends and so I when I began looking into MA courses, I went to the UL website and began looking further into the course content.

What specific aspects of your course have impressed you the most?

Initially, I think the most impressive thing that I tell everyone about is just how supportive the lecturers are. I really feel like I have a personal relationship with them and you can tell that they genuinely want us to do well. They constantly provide us with constructive criticism which is a necessity! As with any MA, there are times when it can get stressful and hectic however, we are always quickly calmed down, because we have such a good support system, I have never felt like it was too much. The lecturers are with you every step of the way.

What experiences/opportunities has it presented you with? ( e.g academic facilities, workshops, academic support, guest speakers, etc)

We get constant emails about academic workshops for both writing and research which are very helpful. However, there are also workshops for your fitness and mental health. We have regular research seminars every 2/3 weeks which have been brilliant. A guest speaker comes in to talk about a topic that they’re researching, and they’ll present their evidence to us, their research process and any difficulties they had. The seminars are extremely thorough and the guests literally pick apart the whole research process. So that’s been really helpful for us when we are doing our own research.

Can you provide an insight into how the course is delivered and how you are assessed?

So, I have been online due to covid but the platforms we have used have been really easy to operate. We have a mix of recorded lectures, live lectures and live seminars. We also have drop in clinics where we have direct access to a tutor if a problem does arise. In terms of assessment, it is a mix of lengthy essays, and shorter papers, which is nice because the work is spread out and we aren’t scrambling to get a 5,000-word essay done at the end of the year. For example, we had a number of primary source document commentaries which are only about 500/600 words each which is quite manageable. I found those smaller papers really useful down the line too within other projects. So the assessments are a gradual process, each small piece is working towards a whole, bigger picture.

What are your future plans? How has/will this course improve your future prospects and outlook?

My plans are relatively the same as before the MA, to pursue further study with the hope of becoming a lecturer, however I am much more confident in the sense that I fell as if I will be able to reach those goals.

At the moment, I’m actually doing an internship in the special collections archives in UL; we’re doing work on an oral history project. I’m getting some great practical experience. I wouldn’t rule out working with archives in the future, perhaps within my research, but the ultimate goal for me is still to lecture in history.

Would you recommend the program to others and do you have any advice or tips for prospective students that are thinking of applying to the course?

Definitely. You really get your money’s worth! If you are considering studying this MA, the one thing I would say is just go for it. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the lectures or students of the course in advance of applying. I was emailing lecturers, general administration staff and course directors and they were brilliant. Not only did they give me the course information, but they were so helpful throughout the whole application process.

I had a rough idea of the thesis I wanted to do before I started, but others in my course didn’t have a clue. But because the modules are so varied, you get the chance to play around with a few areas and topics. So you don’t need to know in advance exactly what your thesis will be.

Overall, I can’t recommend the course enough!

If you would like to learn more about the MA in History at University of Limerick, Ireland and to apply please click here.

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