MASTERPLAN Preparing for Postgraduate Study at LJMU
IN THIS ISSUE:
Welcome to Liverpool The ultimate qualification First class support Education is king
Putting the P in passion
14–21 Just the job 22–27 Education is king 28–33 The ultimate qualification Useful information 34–35 First class support 36
A place to call home
38–39 Postgraduate finance Cover image: Aaron Argomandkhah (see pages 14, 15)
MESSAGE FROM THE VICE-CHANCELLOR We are delighted that you are considering higher-level study at Liverpool John Moores University and hope you will enjoy finding out about our fabulous postgraduate experience in this edition of MasterPlan. Liverpool is a global city of opportunity and a vibrant place to live and work. As a pioneering modern civic university, LJMU combines world-class expertise and facilities with access to outstanding employment opportunities through partnerships with key employers across the UK and beyond. This edition of MasterPlan looks at the passions of our postgraduate students. You’ll find out what brought them to us, what made their postgraduate experience so valuable and how they used their qualification to secure their dream jobs. You’ll hear how a great educational experience at LJMU has inspired our graduates to take up a career in academia and you’ll meet the students whose thirst for knowledge has led them to doctoral study. These inspirational stories demonstrate the power of education and the incredible experiences that await you in the wonderful city of Liverpool. We look forward to welcoming you to LJMU.
Welcome to LJMU OUR CITY Ask any of our students and they’ll tell you that Liverpool is magical – the kind of place where you feel at home right away and, inevitably, want to stay. Indeed, if you don’t already live in Liverpool, this city is sure to become your second home. Affordable In term time Liverpool is home to over 50,000 students all keen to explore its fabulous culture, wonderful architecture and first class entertainment venues. And when you’re living on a student budget, the great news is that this is a very affordable city too. Amazing Architecture If you are a lover of architecture, Liverpool is an absolute treasure trove. There are over 2,500 listed buildings in the city of which 27 are Grade I and 85 Grade II listed. The city has been described by English Heritage as England’s finest Victorian city and, if that isn’t impressive enough, Liverpool’s waterfront is a designated World Heritage Site!
Culture Central When it comes to culture, Liverpool is in a league of its own. There are plentiful free museums including The World Museum and the Merseyside Maritime Museum, free galleries such as The Tate and the Walker Art Gallery, first class theatre at the RIBA award winning Everyman, the Playhouse, the Empire and the Royal Court as well as classical music at The Philharmonic.
Green Spaces In terms of green spaces, Liverpool boasts some amazing parks including Sefton Park with its historic Palm House, Calderstones Park which has a 1,000 year old oak tree and Stanley Park with its Grade II listed Isla Gladstone Conservatory. In the summertime the city’s parks are favourite destinations for students keen to take their revision – and their lunch – al fresco.
A Game of Two Halves Another aspect of Liverpool life which can’t be ignored is its proud footballing heritage. The city is home to both Liverpool FC and Everton FC and football is a way of life here. Visits to Anfield and Goodison are an absolute must during your time at LJMU no matter whether you are a ‘red’, a ‘blue’ or somewhere in between.
Unbeatable Nightlife Last, but not least, comes Liverpool’s legendary nightlife. With the highlights divided between the city centre, Lark Lane and the Baltic Triangle, there’s something here to suit all tastes. Beatles fans will surely want to make a pilgrimage to The Cavern, whilst those with a preference for cutting edge venues will enjoy the numerous venues of the Baltic. For more information on Liverpool and what it has to offer, take a look at itsliverpool.com
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE Celebrating the 25th anniversary of its university status, LJMU has launched a new five year strategy, reflecting on its flourishing research, scholarship and business/industry links.
We continue to open up the University to everyone, from our public Roscoe Lecture series which brings influential voices to the city of Liverpool to generate debate, through to our cultural partnerships with organisations like the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. This allows us to enrich the lives of our students and staff, while making a positive impact on local communities, and enhancing Liverpool’s national and international reputation.”
Vice-Chancellor Nigel Weatherill was keen to set out his vision for the future: “LJMU is moving forward with vigour and momentum and a new vision for the next five years as a pioneering modern civic university. We’re proud to be an anchor in the great city of Liverpool and we will maintain our investment in this city and its people.
CLIMBING THE LEAGUE TABLES LJMU has jumped 16 places in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018. The league table is made up of key indicators, including student satisfaction with teaching quality and the wider student experience, research quality, graduate prospects and degree results achieved. LJMU performed particularly well on student experience and teaching quality.
WINNING AWARDS Hot on the tail of LJMU’s announcement as University of the Year by Educate North, the University has been shortlisted for Times Higher Education Awards in the following categories: Research Project of the Year: STEM; Outstanding University Entrepreneurship and University of the Year. “This is great news for LJMU and I am pleased that the results of our previous five-year strategy have been acknowledged at a national level,” commented Vice-Chancellor Nigel Weatherill. “This is down to our work to widen access to university for local young people, as well as enhance our student experience to secure the first two highly commended QAA awards, which is truly what makes us a pioneering modern civic university.”
PAYING IT BACK LJMU students have raised £10,000 for Claire House Children’s Hospice by completing a series of surveys for the University. “Every year we ask students to tell us what they like about studying at LJMU and where they think further enhancements could be made,” explained Professor Peter Byers. “To encourage high response rates we offer incentives, like free graduation photos or print credits. This year we changed our approach and said that for every survey completed we would make a donation to a local charity and the students’ response was phenomenal.” Over 6,000 students completed four surveys between January and June 2017, raising £10,000 for Claire House Children’s Hospice – as chosen by the Liverpool Students’ Union’s Raise and Give Society. “We’re so pleased our Raise and Give Society chose Claire House to benefit from funds raised by LJMU students,” says Rachael Smart from LiverpoolSU. “It’s amazing to see how much money has been raised for such a worthwhile charity.”
PUTTING THE P IN PASSION Meet four passionate postgraduates whose drive to advance their learning, help others and save the planet has taken them to where they want to be.
RETURNING TO STUDY Tanja Harrison is living proof that hard work and determination pay off. Following her first class undergraduate degree in Community Nutrition at LJMU she was desperate to do a PhD but, with no funding available, things didn’t look good. Not to be deterred, the then 40-year-old German national, kept a foot in the door working as a volunteer research assistant at LJMU.
In terms of her time at LJMU, Tanja has been thoroughly impressed by the support on offer at undergraduate and postgraduate level. “I can’t praise the Doctoral Academy highly enough,” she enthuses. “They organise an extensive range of workshops offering a whole host of transferable skills. My supervisor is also incredibly supportive and the atmosphere at LJMU is great. We have a really nice community of postgraduates which makes it a pleasure to study here.”
“Volunteering meant that I still had access to University facilities and could keep growing my network,” Tanja explains. “My other option was to be a Freelance Nutritional Consultant so I went to the Centre for Entrepreneurship and asked for advice as well as attending a few workshops. The information they gave me has stayed with me and I still call on it today. Their support was truly exceptional and had a real impact on me.”
Looking back at her career thus far, Tanja is happy that she chose to come back to education. “I was 37 when I started my undergraduate degree and I had a five-yearold daughter,” she reflects. “Although my family were very supportive there were some days when it seemed really difficult. I think the hardest thing about returning to education was getting my head around how long work would take. Once I got to grips with that, everything was fine.”
It was at that point in her career that scholarships became available for postgraduate research and, with the help of her tutors, Tanja was able to secure the funding to do her PhD.
So what advice would she offer to those considering returning to full-time study? “Definitely take a work placement or do some work shadowing in your chosen field. I originally wanted to be a dietician but when I spent some time finding out more about it whilst volunteering at a hospital, I realised it wasn’t for me. You have to love what you do.”
Tanja has embraced life as a PhD student. She is a STEM ambassador and an educator member of the British Science Association. Her research focuses on the low fat/low carb debate currently hitting the headlines. “I am working on the theory that one size doesn’t fit all,” she says. “I believe that diet advice has to be far more personalised than adhering to set rules.”
Daniel Sadler has a passion for Sport Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. Indeed, he feels so strongly about his subject that his studies at LJMU have taken him from undergraduate to masters level and now on to his doctorate. You may be surprised to hear, therefore, that you won’t find Daniel discussing the latest Wolves score (he’s originally from the Midlands) or kicking a ball around on a Sunday morning with an amateur team. Daniel’s love of sport is, first and foremost, academic. “It’s strange really,” smiles Dan. “I used to be a keen runner and football player and even had a black belt in Taekwando. Over the years though and after an odd injury here and there, I’ve given up these sports and now just exercise in the gym.” And things are pretty much the same when it comes to being a spectator. “Don’t get me wrong, I like watching sport but I’m not the kind of person who will spend hours talking about a team and how they performed,” he says. “My passion centres on the interaction between science, health and sport. That is why I am here.” Loving his undergraduate studies and its resulting practice placements, masters-level study seemed like the obvious next step for Dan. “The Sports Nutrition masters offers the best of both worlds,” he says. “As well as labbased molecular physiology research I was lucky enough to get an elite sports placement with Huddersfield Giants so I could see how the theory worked in practice.” This combination of theoretical and practical learning had Dan hooked and saw him applying to study for his PhD at LJMU. “At each stage of my education I have been spurred on to go one step further thanks to the passion of the lecturers, the support of all the staff I have met and the great opportunities on offer here,” Dan explains. “Even at PhD level there are people working alongside you willing to answer your questions. It is very much a community here and I’d recommend it to anyone.” So what is the key to postgraduate success according to this LJMU stalwart? “I’d say be prepared to work hard, network, and make the most of every opportunity that presents itself. The staff are excellent and the facilities first class, the rest is up to you!” On graduation Daniel wants to balance a teaching career with his ongoing applied work. It’s the perfect combination for the man whose interests are centred on improving health and performance in clinical and sporting domains.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
For Megan Quick, Forensic Anthropology was never about glamorous TV depictions of life as an investigator, it was always about helping people. So it came as no surprise when, on graduation, she decided to work for a year to fund her masters study in this area. She is now embarking on her PhD which she is also self-funding, with more than a little help from mum and dad. “For me forensics is a way to make a real difference,” says Megan. “I am interested in humanitarian issues and human rights and would like to work out in the field, locating mass graves and identifying human remains.” For a girl who never intended to go to University, that’s quite an ambition. “I originally wanted to go straight into work but then became interested in forensics,” she explains. “My interest in crime fiction attracted me to the subject but then I started reading into it from an academic point of view.” Megan learned more on her undergraduate course than she could possibly have dreamed of. “I knew I had to keep at it,” she says. “I have always wanted to become the most employable person possible.” The jump up to masters study was quite difficult at first. “Having been out of education for a year I was a little rusty on the bone identification side of things for the first module,” she says. Fortunately, her knowledge soon came flooding back and Megan’s grades started to soar. “The masters covered a lot of the same ground as my undergraduate degree but in far greater detail,” she explains. “We also had to do a lot of research and deliver seminars to our fellow students and that really improved our presentation skills. The research we did for these seminars then also fed into our dissertations.” And it wasn’t just the teaching methods that stood out for Megan, the tutors themselves had a huge impact on her development. “They were absolutely outstanding,” she smiles. “They were really hands on and gave us experiences we simply would not have encountered elsewhere. We were given the opportunity to go to Rome for a week where we visited courts and laboratories and got to see the cadaver dogs. It is an experience I will never forget.” Megan is now specialising in using remote sensing and nearsurface detection methods to search for clandestine graves and weapon caches. “The research I am doing is applicable to lots of different concepts,” she says. “I love the fact that it crosses the boundaries of different disciplines and has the potential to make a real difference to people’s lives. Coming to John Moores has been a real game changer for me.”
A LIFELONG DREAM Not everyone took 14 year-old Scott Harding completely seriously when he announced that he was going to “save the elephants”. Fast forward several years, however, and the Wildlife Conservation masters student is preparing to travel to Tanzania and South Africa to carry out groundbreaking research.
not have an elephant population). On his return, however, he will be preparing to travel overseas once more, this time to South Africa to carry out research for his dissertation at ‘Sanctuary Adventures with Elephants’. “At the minute there are two main ways of assessing the body condition of an elephant,” explains Scott. “The simplest way is a visual body check but by the time an elephant starts displaying external symptoms, a problem is usually long established. The second way is by blood testing but this is obviously invasive and can be stressful for the animal.”
“I was the kid who wanted to be David Attenborough,” laughs Scott. “My life was planned out from a very early age. I knew I wanted to study zoology like David and then I would go on to follow in his footsteps.” Before arriving at LJMU Scott had his first real taste of a large scale conservation project when he travelled to The Maldives to work on The Whale Shark Research Programme. Featured on a BBC travel programme, the experiences of Scott and his fellow A-level pupils brought a lot of publicity for the charity and its work.
In association with his tutors, Scott is developing a peptide analysis method which will use urine samples to give an insight into body condition. “This method is used with other species but, as far as we are aware, is not being used in elephant conservation,” he says.
Scott’s undergraduate programme at LJMU further cemented his determination to work in wildlife conservation. “What is great about John Moores is the enthusiasm and expertise of the staff and the focus on real employment opportunities,” he explains. “And if I loved my undergraduate degree, my masters is even better. It lets me be myself, enables me to investigate the topics I am interested in and relate what I am learning to my passion for elephants.”
Scott is hoping that this research will be a precursor to a larger study at PhD level. “I want to become a real expert in my field and be as employable as I can,” he says. “The important thing, however, is to ensure that there is someone to fight for the elephants when I am gone. By working in academia, I can carry out research work to support the elephant population as it stands and pass on my enthusiasm and knowledge to students so that they are here to do that job in the future.”
His forthcoming masters trip to Tanzania will see Scott working with Roan Antelope (the area he is visiting does
Maybe 14 year-old Scott wasn’t too far off the mark after all!
JUST THE JOB With 96% of our postgraduates in work or further study six months after graduation*, we look at the key role postgraduate study has played in the successful careers of four LJMU students. *HESA 2016
SUCCESS ON THE MENU FOR AARON When Aaron Argomandkhah secured his Sports Nutrition placement at Tranmere Rovers he knew he had to make it count. And make it count he did. At the end of last season, the club made him an offer he couldn’t refuse – a brand new post created just for him!
players and staff and basically became a familiar face to everyone there.” Working with fellow classmate Adam, one of the first initiatives they introduced was a team breakfast on placement days. “I offered to cook for the team and made sure they were getting a good start to the day with scrambled eggs or omelettes,” he says. “I also held nutritional consultations with the players, started to develop menus tailored to the demands of training and the fixture schedule, and began to introduce a safe supplementation policy.”
Aaron had always been interested in sport and the science behind it but originally wanted to be a dentist. “I was going to try to improve my grades at A-level to access the degree course but it was around that time I got the opportunity to take over the family coffee shop so I decided to do that,” Aaron explains.
By the end of the season Tranmere were in the play-offs for promotion to the English Football League. Sadly, this year it wasn’t to be for the club but, as Aaron’s placement drew to a close, staff realised he would be greatly missed.
As business boomed at the café, the family were offered a buy out option by a high street catering chain. “It was decision time for me,” smiles Aaron. “I either stuck with the coffee shop or sold out and did something I was more passionate about.”
“The club made the decision to bring the stadium’s food concessions in-house and were looking for a catering manager,” explains Aaron. “I was encouraged to apply, with the caveat that if I secured the role they would combine it with the position of first team nutritionist. The manager and head of sport science were eager to maintain the nutrition support I had provided.”
Aaron decided to sell and spent three years doing an undergraduate degree in sport coaching with Cronton College via Staffordshire University. On graduation he was keen to pursue his passions further but realised that the coaching side was difficult to access without player experience.
Naturally, Aaron jumped at the chance to join the club full-time and is now loving life as a Tranmere employee. “We launched our new catering menus at the start of the season,” he enthuses. “When you’re dealing with an established audience you can’t swap everything they know and love, so we’re making small changes, using good quality, local produce and supporting local businesses. Long term I’d like to be offering nutritious chilli or curry and rice alongside low fat chicken wraps but we have to start somewhere.”
“I started looking around and found the Sports Nutrition masters at LJMU,” he says. “It seemed perfect for me and the reputation of the staff, alongside the possibility of a placement, made it the obvious choice.” Aaron boxed clever when it came to choosing his placement. “My feeling was that although an opportunity at a Premier League Club would be amazing, choosing a smaller club may provide employment opportunities when the placement ended and more chance for contact time with senior players,” he reflects.
Later in his career Aaron would love to work in the Premier League, but for now he’s keen to concentrate on Tranmere. “Nothing would make me happier than moving up through the leagues with Tranmere,” he smiles. “We’re very much a family here and that’s what makes this place so special.”
From the minute he joined Tranmere, Aaron set about making himself invaluable. “Whenever there was something to be done or a gap to plug I volunteered,” he smiled. “I wanted to build up good relationships with the
GREAT NEWS FOR ARIANE International Journalism graduate Ariane SohrabiShiraz explains how postgraduate study helped her secure her dream job.
The course was more theoretical than I expected a journalism course to be, but that theory felt essential to the job.
“When making the decision to pursue a postgraduate course, I weighed up my options. Am I ready to work? Do I know what I want to do? Am I qualified for that job? The answer to the first two were definitely no. To the third, I wasn’t sure.
The opportunities that arose through the University were invaluable. A career-day with guests working in media led to me helping as online editorial assistant for a cultural magazine. I also took a part-time job as a copywriter through LJMU.
Before my undergraduate degree I faced the same confusion. What do I want to do? I decided on a vague combined degree: Criminology and Media & Communications. Basically a bit of everything I thought was interesting. I just didn’t know what to focus on.
After the masters I again weighed up my options. I was ready to work, knew what I wanted to do, and was more than qualified. However, now came the hardest part. Finding a job. In media especially, you are told it’s about who you know, not what you know. I’ve found it’s a bit of both.
The topic that seemed to connect the two courses was journalism, and coincidently I found that I enjoyed it, and had a knack for it too.
After university an opportunity arose, through contacts, to work on the TV programme “One Born Every Minute” as a casting associate and runner. I didn’t have anything to lose, either I would love working on the show and stay in TV, or perhaps I would meet someone in the journalism industry?
I decided that, although a masters in journalism is neither necessary nor the norm, I would do it. I wanted to specialise, learn more and I quite simply wasn’t ready for a job. Like many others, I thought that having a masters degree on my CV would make me stand out and land me the dream job.
Again, I found that it was a bit of both. I loved the job, but also met “someone who knew someone” who works at The Daily Express and Daily Star newspapers. They gave me their email, arranged a trial day, and the rest is history.
Choosing John Moores University was easy, I never considered other options. My brother went there, and I was happy with its reputation and how it would look on my CV.
I moved down to London a few months later to start my job as a web desk journalist for a national newspaper. I felt confident because of the knowledge I had gained during my studies. Especially learning media law and ethics felt essential. I also knew that I had been lucky finding someone in the industry. However, experience is essential in any field, so I advise getting as much of it as you can while studying.”
The MA International Journalism degree made me more confident. I was able to narrow my media focus. I learnt theories, media law, became more confident in myself and my ability to formulate ideas, and made some fascinating friends along the way. The class was small, which meant I got to know people on my course who inspired me and my learning. It also meant I learnt more from my tutors.
THE AUTHOR OF HI “The book launch was the best night of my life,” smiles MA Writing graduate James Rice. “I was standing in Leaf on Bold Street and looking around at all of the people there and I just couldn’t believe it.”
write full-time,” he says. “I applied for an arts council grant and thanks, in no small part, to the supporting letter provided by a literary agent I met on the masters course, my application was successful.” Having completed the first draft of his novel, James sent it off to the agent he had met at John Moores. “Things really seemed to happen in spurts and starts from then,” he smiles. “At first I was given some minor tweaks to do quite quickly and then, when it looked like everything was steaming ahead, I didn’t hear from my agent for a couple of months.”
James’s first novel ‘Alice and the Fly’ is a work of literary fiction. It was published in January 2015. “I’ve wanted to be a writer for a very long time,” says James. “I recall, as a child, watching old episodes of Doctor Who on UK Gold and telling my dad that I wanted to be an actor. He explained that acting was difficult to get into and that writing the stories for the show would be far more fun. From then on whenever anyone asked what I wanted to be, I told them I wanted to be a writer.”
One day, out of the blue, James received an email inviting him to a breakfast meeting with Hodder and Stoughton in London. “I didn’t know what to expect at all. I had this idea that they would slam a contract down on the desk and ask me to sign,” muses James. In actual fact, James and his agent spent an hour discussing the book in detail. It was then back to the waiting game.
When James took his undergraduate degree in Creative Writing at LJMU it came as no surprise to his family. “I think the course taught me how to write but I knew I needed the masters to let me produce a significant piece of work,” he says.
“I remember the call distinctly,” says James. “I was just sitting down to Sunday lunch with the family. I was penniless and didn’t have a clue that anything was happening with the book. My agent rang to say I had been offered a two book deal. I couldn’t believe it. She told me she was going back to them to ask for more money than the original offer. Without her, I would have snapped up the deal there and then!”
The idea for James’s first novel came to him many years earlier when he was still, in fact, in secondary school. “I’d had this idea about this boy who was a loner and seemed quite odd to the outside world but, by seeing things from his point of view, you would realise that he was a good, kind person,” says James. Over the years, James had developed his idea into a short story and even a concept album – which he recorded with a friend. Neither of these formats did justice to the idea and so, at masters level, James started to develop it into a novel. “When my fellow students and tutors read the first chapter, they loved it and that was basically what I worked on for the rest of the course.”
With all the contract details sorted, James received his first payment on Christmas Eve. The book was published a year later and now James is writing his second novel. “I would never have actually got around to writing the novel if it hadn’t been for the MA,” says James. “I needed the structure the course gave me and, evidently, the contacts I made on the course proved vital.”
Not only was James receiving acclaim in the classroom, his embryonic story was getting critical acclaim too, winning the Writing on the Wall competition.
As to the future, James is keen to keep writing and share his passion for his craft via some lecturing at the University. “I want to write on my own terms rather than become a writing machine,” he smiles. “By supporting myself with teaching work I can continue to enjoy what I do.”
On graduation, and with just half of the book complete, the writing process slowed down a little whilst James took on various part-time jobs to support himself. “I soon realised that, if I wanted to finish the novel, I needed to
IS OWN SUCCESS
THE ADDED VALUE OF STUDY 20
applied,” says Richard. “My studies have made me look at things differently and I’m already using new techniques in strategy development.”
Digital Marketing masters student Richard Muhammad is living proof that you are never too experienced to go back to the classroom. The self-employed marketing consultant joined LJMU in September 2016, keen to ‘post-rationalise’ his existing experience and extend his learning yet further.
Working full-time as he studies for his masters, Richard is living life to the full. “I am a consultant at the Pentecostal Credit Union at the minute, managing an integrated marketing campaign called “Gimme Dat” which is aimed at encouraging young people to become more financially aware,” explains Richard. “Not long after starting my masters, my client received a call from the BBC asking if they could feature the work of the Credit Union on an episode of Songs of Praise about overcoming debt. The Credit Union were overwhelmed and excited by the success of the campaign and they jumped at the chance to be involved. It meant that I was extremely busy at the start of my course, juggling work and study. I was travelling to London every 10 days or so to keep things ticking over but seeing the final coverage on TV made it all worthwhile in the end.”
With an undergraduate degree in Urban Planning from Westminster University and an MBA from Aston University, Richard has enjoyed a rich and varied career working for FTSE 100 businesses, global advertising agencies such as Havas/WPP and television companies. Providing customer insights for major name brands, Richard also produced a number of short films and documentaries for Channel 4 and the Discovery Channel, including one of the first ever HD productions. “Around 10 years ago, I decided to bring together my creative production experience and my knowledge of data usage and segmentation to set up my own business offering marketing consultancy services,” explains Richard. “I was able to provide my customers with effective content and the tools they needed to get that content out there.”
So, despite his hectic schedule, does Richard still stand by his decision to study for a masters qualification? “Absolutely!” he says. “I am very comfortable here. I find Liverpool and LJMU very conducive to study. I had been out of full-time education for 20 years when I started my masters and I would really encourage anyone thinking of taking that step to do it. Take the plunge and be fearless. You’ll discover new concepts and ideas that will give you a better foundation for the future. Masters study was certainly the right choice for me.”
Having built his own successful business, Richard surprised friends and family by deciding to return to the classroom and study for a Digital Marketing masters qualification. “I think there is a big difference between basing your customer advice on your own experience and being forced to look at the latest academic thinking to see how it can be
EDUCATION IS KING Meet the LJMU postgraduates keen to share their expertise with others.
KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY
Teaching is something of a passion for researcher Kangkana Baishya. The Electronics and Communications specialist is desperate to follow in the footsteps of her mother, uncle and grandmother who have all worked in education. “As a student you know the different types of teachers you come across,” she says. “There are the strict ones, the kind ones, the scary ones and then there are the motivational, life-changing ones – that’s what I want to be. For me teaching is the only way, without being a world leader or celebrity, that you can really impact someone’s life. The fact that you can inspire someone by something you say or do and yet possibly not even know the impact you have had, makes it all the more appealing.” Kangkana previously taught at her home university in Assam, India following her masters programme. “My mum lectures there in Civil Engineering,” she says “and my uncle is also a lecturer at the University.” Kangkana’s passion for research, however, was the thing that enticed her back to the classroom. “I had always wanted to do a PhD, it was just a question of when I would do it,” she explains. “I had an offer from the IIT – one of the top Engineering Schools in India but it just didn’t feel right. It was at that point I saw an advert for a research assistant post at LJMU which would feed into a PhD. I applied and was lucky enough to be accepted.” Having studied in the UK previously, Kangkana settled into life in the north of England quite easily. “I love Liverpool, it is just the right size of city and you can be exactly who you want to be here,” she says. She is also full of praise for her University experience. “What really stands out about LJMU are the friendly faces and helpful approach. Everyone is really supportive – and that is very different to many other universities.” Kangkana is using her experience of PhD study to inform her future teaching career. “I love being around students and working with them,” she says. “I have thrown myself into University life, I am an admin on our online community website and a student rep. I am also going to apply to Brilliant Club so I can experience teaching in a school setting.” As to the future, Kangkana would like to take up a postdoctoral research post before fulfilling her dream of becoming a lecturer. “I don’t mind where in the world I end up, so long as I am able to teach,” she says. “That will be my dream fulfilled.”
EDUCATION FOR ALL Engineering student Rosie Horner is passionate about her subject and passionate about teaching so when the opportunity arose to combine her passions, she grabbed it with both hands. Rosie saw the plea for PhD students to sign up to Brilliant Club – an award-winning charity which aims to increase the number of pupils from under-represented backgrounds in university education. “They wanted researchers to go into schools and do a series of lessons on their research topics,” she explains. “I applied straight away.” Rosie was accepted onto the programme and attended a welcome event at Lancaster University. She is about to embark on a series of five weekly visits to Wade Deacon High School in Runcorn where she will teach pupils about her work developing a surface resistant to algae. “During my undergraduate degree at LJMU I became fascinated by Marine Biology,” she says. “Traditionally ships would be coated in toxic paint to prevent algae growing on them but this has a very negative impact on the environment so I am trying to develop the use of natural materials to combat this.” With the hands on, visual nature of Rosie’s work, she has been able to create a series of fascinating lessons which will engage her pupils. “I’ll be taking shells and crabs into the classroom and letting students see how nature already does what we are trying to do,” she says. “I hope they will be inspired by what they see and maybe start to think about the kind of careers they might go into.”
from Biology to Engineering. “When I was contacted about the PhD there was a part of me that was a little concerned about the Engineering focus,” she says. “The idea of working alongside engineers when I had no background in that area was certainly very daunting but the great thing about LJMU is that is it such a friendly and supportive place. Everyone has
About to work with children from non-traditional university backgrounds, Rosie fully understands that learning journeys can be tough. Reflecting on the challenges she has faced as a PhD student, she talks about her move
gone out of their way to help me and I now feel quite at home in Engineering. I’ve picked up some really cool new skills too – like learning to use a laser.”
scared to engage with science and have a go,” she smiles. “Whatever your level of education, your teachers and lecturers are there to help you so always make the most of the opportunities that come your way.”
So, besides her academic learning, what messages will Rosie be taking into the classroom with her? “Basically, don’t be
TAKING HIS KNOWLEDGE BACK HOME Thankfully, Mohamed’s dalliance with the Lewis Carrol character was short lived and he soon started to progress with his studies. “I see PhD study in quite simple terms,” he explains. “First year you are a learner, second year a student, third an expert and fourth a professional.”
Having run a small design agency and founded a Motorsports magazine in Nairobi, Mohamed Sameer Mughal moved to the UK with his wife to study for his masters and PhD. Half way through his doctorate, he is already planning for the future and looking forward to returning to his beloved Kenya to take up a teaching and research role there.
As with any learning process, Mohamed believes that support is the key to success. “You need support at home – my wife has been amazing – and support from your supervision team,” he says. “At LJMU the support is always there, you simply need to ask.”
“I think my desire to be a teacher has grown over the years,” Mohamed told MasterPlan. “Education is very different in Kenya and there is a shortage of teachers in some areas. In remote areas lessons still take place in the open air, with students sitting under a tree. I have been very fortunate in terms of my education and the support offered by my family and LJMU. I would really like to give something back.”
Mohamed has achieved his 3i’s teaching qualification at LJMU and has published and presented his work at local and international conferences and seminars. He is now looking to build his experience in the classroom. “My sister and cousin are already teachers and, like them, I want to do my bit to ensure that everyone has the chance of a good education,” he says. “It’s my way of saying thank you for the opportunities I have been given.”
Mohamed was encouraged to come to Liverpool for his higher degrees by his sister who arrived in the city some years earlier to train as a teacher. “At home in Kenya I did a Higher National Diploma in Computers and Management straight from high school and, although I wanted to do my masters right away, financial constraints meant I had to work for a few years,” he explains. Mohamed studied for his masters in Liverpool before moving to London for a couple of years to work for a printing company. “I had a few offers to study for my PhD but, having enjoyed the time I spent in Liverpool, I decided to return.” So how did Mohamed take to doctoral study? “PhD study is very tough but very rewarding,” he smiles. “I’d say it was 10 times harder than my masters and, for the first year, I felt a little like Alice in Wonderland!”
THE ULTIMATE QUALIFICATION Ask any PhD student about their learning experience and theyâ€™ll talk about a rollercoaster ride and an all-consuming passion. Here we meet one PhD student who never planned to study for a doctorate, one who dreamed of little else and a working mum who successfully balanced PhD study with family life. *HESA 2016
FROM TEACHER TO STUDENT 28
Rachel Jackson tells MasterPlan how it feels to return to education. “A PhD was never in the ‘Master Plan’ for me, yet here I am in my second year of a funded doctoral position at LJMU. Originally, my career plan was quite simple: degree + diploma = English teacher. I love learning so a teaching career was perfect for me and that’s as far as I wanted to go. After four years of my dream job, it occurred to me that I had leftover masters credits from my PGDE. To save them from extinction and satisfy my need for closure, I embarked on a masters at my alma mater, Glasgow University. One problem, though – my teaching job was in Salford! Fortunately, the course was billed as ‘distance learning’ and, as it largely entailed researching my own teaching practice, I thought I could easily manage. With the university’s multi-media support, I did manage and found the whole experience of researching extremely rewarding, if a little tough. When my MEd supervisor told me that LJMU was looking for a doctoral student to investigate the use of research in the teaching profession, it seemed too good to be true. There I was, trying to research whilst teaching full-time and finding it almost impossible, and here was my opportunity to research full-time and not only that, the very thing I would be studying was my current bugbear – how research engagement is possible for teachers. I feel very fortunate to have been given this opportunity. Being a university-based PhD student is very different to life in the classroom. I expected it to be quite a lonely experience but I thought I would be okay with that. Living the busy life of a teacher, I rarely visited the staff room and didn’t really care for staff nights out. I have to admit though, when I first made the transition back to university life, I longed for that ‘teacher talk’ and being called ‘Miss’! Eventually, though, I realised there is so much going on at LJMU for postgraduate students. I have now met like-minded people whom I can bounce ideas off and offer, as well as receive, emotional and academic support. Although I’m not regularly known as ‘Miss’ anymore, I am still able to work with young people in my ‘Student Advocate’ role at the University. Basically, I get paid to tell secondary students all about university life in the hope that they will consider it for the future. I remember being involved in similar schemes myself when I was in school and it really did encourage me to consider higher education, which was not the ‘done thing’ in my family. I’m now studying for the highest academic qualification there is with a view to developing research use in the teaching profession. Hopefully I’ll live to teach another day – with future teachers as my students!”
WHEN AGE IS NO OBJECT
Priding herself on her organisational and planning skills, it came as no surprise that Becky Randles had her future planned out when she graduated with a 2:1 in Psychology at LJMU. Her end goal was to study for a PhD but, thinking that would not be possible immediately, she was about to begin a postgraduate teaching course at the University. It was at that point, however, that her tutor got in touch, offering her the chance to go straight into PhD study.
about to present at a conference, is waiting for her first paper to be published and is a member of the Athena Swan committee which promotes female involvement in STEM subjects. Something of a home bird, Becky has lived at the family home in Runcorn throughout her undergraduate and postgraduate studies. “I love living at home, it makes good financial sense, it is convenient and there’s always a place for me to stay with friends in the city if I want to,” she says.
“I was ecstatic,” smiles Becky. “I had developed a real passion for research during my undergraduate studies and I knew it was what I wanted to do. I had, however, thought it would only be possible with a few years teaching experience under my belt.
She is also full of praise for the support on offer to students at LJMU. “There are so many workshops available and they make a real difference,” she explains. “There are counselling sessions should you need them, the careers service is amazing and there is always someone to speak to.”
At just 22 years of age Becky is the youngest member of the Built Environment Department but is loving every minute of her PhD experience. “It was a little daunting at first,” she admits. “I think everyone suffers from ‘Imposter Syndrome’ where you think that everyone else knows more than you do, but you soon realise that you are all in the same boat, learning as you go along.”
Flying high with her studies and showing more mature students how it’s done, we asked Becky for the secret to postgraduate success. “It’s all about being organised, self-motivated and confident,” she says. “I didn’t think I’d be teaching so soon and I didn’t think I’d have work published so soon but it is all good experience and it teaches you to believe in yourself.”
Studying Educational Psychology with a focus on learning gain and skills development, Becky has thrown herself into life as a PhD student. Not only is she lecturing on undergraduate programmes, she has run sessions with masters students, is
So, what’s in store for Becky next? “I’m interested in postdoctoral research but I want to look at a different topic so I can define the exact area I want to work in,” she says. “I don’t ever want to leave LJMU so working as a research officer or research assistant would be my dream.”
JUGGLING RESEARCH AND REAL LIFE No-one ever said that juggling postgraduate study with full-time work and family life would be easy but Creative Writing specialist Jenny Moran is living proof that you can survive!
It would be fair to say that LJMU has played a massive part in Jenny’s life, not only did she study for her undergraduate and masters degrees at the University, she also met her husband here and the couple both work at LJMU. So when Jenny decided to study for her PhD some six years ago, there was only one University in the frame.
taken the pressure off me at home and cleared the decks so that I can get on with my research when I come home from work,” she says. As an alumnus of LJMU’s BA Hons and MA in Writing, Paul was also able to help by discussing ideas and theories, and providing helpful feedback on pieces of work. “In terms of peer support from fellow LJMU students, our regular workshops give us the chance to swap ideas, learn about different research methods and present our work. It’s good to talk to others who are in the same situation as you.”
“My undergraduate and masters programmes were simply incredible, life-changing even,” she smiles. “Whereas the undergraduate course taught us to find our voice, the masters shaped us into professional writers. When I got to the end of the masters though I felt I had more to do, more to say. I felt I had a PhD in me, it was just a case of timing.”
So, is a PhD something she’d recommend? “In the end my PhD became my me time,” she says. “It was time that I could devote to something I loved, something that was my passion. I think it is important not to underestimate the workload involved in a PhD, I thought I was prepared but even I was surprised by it. In essence, if you love your subject enough and you can give enough of yourself to it, it is the most amazing thing you can do. I have thoroughly enjoyed my journey.”
Jenny started her PhD in 2010, just a year before her son was born and whilst working full-time. “I was writing a novel in my spare time and my tutor told me that all of the research I was doing for the novel would contribute nicely to a PhD,” she explains. “I decided to go for it. It was difficult juggling caring for my son and undertaking such a huge project but all the way through my studies I felt that my tutors really cared about me on a personal level. I did, in fact, suspend my studies a couple of times for personal reasons but LJMU staff have always been there for me, spurring me on.”
Jenny’s top five tips for researchers 1. Love what you do – your love will be tested, you will lose years of your life and be taken to the edge of sanity but, if you are passionate, it will all be worth it
Jenny has had a number of different supervisors in the course of her PhD. “I can honestly say that each and every one of them has made a significant and individual contribution to my learning,” she says. “It has been a real privilege to work with such well respected academics.”
2. Keep references for every quote you use, every article you read and do it as you go along. Keep lists, use post-it notes in books and have an annotated bibliography that you update regularly 3. Be really organized but be prepared to change your plans. Keep on top of deadlines, they help you to organize yourself and keep you moving along. Compartmentalise your life so ‘study time’ is ‘study time’ and ‘me time’ is ‘me time’
Just weeks away from finally submitting her thesis, Jenny is feeling a little sad that her journey is nearing its end. “Everyone thought I would be desperate to hand it over,” she smiles. “If I am honest though I really don’t want to stop. Granted, there have been times when I have felt a little unhinged. You can only really understand postgraduate study if you have been there. You are in this place where you know more about a certain topic than anyone else on the planet so there’s no-one else you can really talk to about it and that can be stressful.”
4. Ask questions – don’t suffer in silence. Whether you need academic answers or clarification on procedures there are people here to help you 5. Keep in touch with your supervisors and your network of fellow researchers. They will keep you motivated and keep you sane. We all need support
One thing Jenny has appreciated though is the unswerving support of her husband and her peers. “Paul has really
FIRST CLASS SUPPORT Whether you are joining LJMU as a new student or have studied here as an undergraduate, you will have access to a wealth of support. You’ll find details of the main services below but, if you are not quite sure what support you need, either email email@example.com or call in and see us at the Aquinas Building on Mount Pleasant.
As well as the services of our central accommodation team who deal with queries and arrangements pre-arrival, Student Advice and Wellbeing can help you with any issues you may have with University accommodation once you settle in, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact our private sector housing adviser based at Liverpool Student Housing, email: email@example.com
• Counselling and Mental Wellbeing Talking therapy appointments are available Monday to Friday throughout the year and there is also a daily drop in session, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Disability Support If you have a disability and require extra support during your studies, please inform Student Advice and Wellbeing as soon as possible, email: email@example.com
LJMU’s dedicated international team is here to support overseas students from the moment you decide to study with us.
• Finance Whether you need information on scholarships, loans or bursaries or some help budgeting, our Finance Advisers have the answers you need, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
As well as letting you know all about LJMU before you come to Liverpool, the team provides a ‘meet and greet’ service when you arrive in the UK and will help with issues such as setting up a UK bank account and an email address, registering with the police and setting your immigration status to ‘student’.
• International Student Support For one-to-one and group sessions on topics such as visa applications or cultural issues contact: email@example.com
To find out more about what the international team can do for you, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Study Support If you need to develop additional skills to complement your studies, our study support team can help with topics such as academic writing, referencing, maths support and English for academic purposes; for more information email: email@example.com or see our Academic Support section opposite.
When you begin your studies at LJMU you may find you need help with certain academic topics. Our study skills classes provide valuable support for students at all levels.
LJMU has three libraries: the Aldham Robarts library at the Mount Pleasant Campus, the Avril Robarts library in the City Centre and the IM Marsh library. Providing a hub for all front-line student services, our libraries are the place to: register and enrol, hand in your coursework, pay fees and get guidance on anything related to the student experience.
We offer a wide range of generic training sessions as well as specific support for international and postgraduate students. Details of sessions are sent out weekly via email. Bespoke sessions are also available subject to demand.
LIVERPOOL STUDENTSâ€™ UNION Liverpool SU represents all LJMU students. Run by elected student officers, LSU prides itself on being an entirely student-led organisation, working solely to improve your University experience. To find out more, visit www.liverpoolsu.com
CAREERS EXPERTISE and development areas, your career motivators, the options available to you and the necessary steps to take to achieve your career goals.
DID YOU KNOW?
Other highlights of our service include:
Did you know that an impressive 96%* of LJMU taught postgraduates are in work or further study six months after graduation?
• Our MyJobsandPlacements website (ljmu.prospects.ac.uk/) • Career insight guides specifically for your subject area • A dedicated careers adviser for your Faculty • Details of graduate jobs, internships, placements, voluntary work and more at ljmu.prospects.ac.uk • An expert CV and application checking service – call 0151 231 8099 • Regular careers events and employer days • Workshops and webinars on CVs, application forms, interviews, psychometric tests etc • One-to-one careers advice and guidance from expert employability advisers and career advisers – call 0151 231 8099 (option 1) • Mock interviews to perfect your technique and build your confidence – call 0151 231 8099
One of the reasons we can boast such great statistics is the excellent careers support available to each and every LJMU student.
CAREERSMART AND MORE All postgraduate students have the opportunity to engage with the new CareerSmart e-learning tool which will introduce you to the steps involved in making informed choices about your career. It will enable you to consider your strengths
A PLACE TO CALL HOME If you are moving to Liverpool to study, you’ll be delighted to hear that all new students are guaranteed a room in University-endorsed accommodation, no matter what your level of study. And what’s more, if you prefer privately owned accommodation, we can help with that too!
UNIVERSITY ENDORSED ACCOMMODATION Opt for University-endorsed accommodation and we’ll give you the option to live with other postgraduate students and/or mature undergraduates. To book your university accommodation: 1. Explore the accommodation options: www.ljmu.ac.uk/ discover/your-student-experience/accommodation 2. On accepting an offer from LJMU, submit your online accommodation request. The sooner you send a request, the more choice you will have 3. Your accommodation manager will contact you by email within 10 days. Follow the instructions provided and make the initial payment to finalise your booking
For further help or advice, please call: +44 (0)151 231 4166 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Liverpool Student Homes (LSH) www.liverpoolstudenthomes.org/ is the official provider of private accommodation for LJMU, the University of Liverpool and Liverpool Hope University. LSH has the city’s largest choice of student flats, houses and rooms with over 16,000 bed spaces. It offers protection against poor housing conditions and also provides impartial expert housing advice when required. For more information call LSH on 0151 794 3296 or email email@example.com
POSTGRADUATE FINANCE • Postgraduate International Scholarships
Before you embark on your postgraduate studies you need to think about how you are going to fund the next stage of your education. The great news is that financial support is available for postgraduate study in many guises and our student advice team are on hand to guide you through the options. You can contact our funding specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org but, in the meantime, here’s a brief outline of the options open to you:
LJMU offers a series of scholarships for international applicants on taught masters programmes and research degrees. These scholarships take the form of fee waivers. For full eligibility criteria and details of how to apply, go to: ljmu.ac.uk/international • Teacher Training Teacher training is funded like undergraduate study via government loans and grants. There are also bursaries depending on your degree classification and subject. See: gov.uk/teacher-training-funding for more details. Funding applications open at the end of February
• Postgraduate Masters Loans Students from England, Wales or the EU attending eligible full and part-time masters courses can apply for government loans of up to £10,280. Further information and details of eligibility are available at www.gov.uk/studentfinance and www.studentfinancewales.co.uk/ Students who ordinarily live in Northern Ireland can apply for a non means tested loan for their tuition fees. The loan is capped at £5,500 per student and you can find out more at: www.studentfinanceni.co.uk
• NHS Courses You can apply for a bursary for some masters level NHS courses. The funding cycle opens in April for September starters. See the NHS Business Services Authority website (nhsbsa.nhs.uk/students) for more details
• Professional and Career Development Loans This government initiative features a commercial loan of up to £10,000 provided by a high street bank but underwritten by the government so you don’t have to make repayments whilst you are studying. You will, however, need to start repaying your loan a month after finishing your course. Go to gov.uk/career-development-loans for details
DID YOU KNOW? • If you are a home/EU graduate with a degree from LJMU you may be eligible for 20% off your postgraduate tuition fees* • Funding is also available from research councils, charities and trusts • The University has a Student Support Fund for those facing unexpected hardship • Equipment and support is available for those with an ongoing disability or learning difficulty, email: email@example.com • If you are a full-time student with a child or adult dependant, you may qualify for extra financial support *Subject to terms and conditions
CONTACT DETAILS FACULTIES
Faculty of Arts, Professional and Social Studies firstname.lastname@example.org
Faculty of Education, Health and Community: (education admissions)
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International enquiries email@example.com
Liverpool Student Homes firstname.lastname@example.org
Faculty of Science
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The Doctoral Academy (contact form) https://www.ljmu.ac.uk/forms/enquiry
Visit ljmu.ac.uk or connect with us on Twitter @LJMU
Published on Nov 7, 2017