MASTERPLAN Preparing for Postgraduate Study IN THIS ISSUE:
Welcome to Liverpool Transforming futures Research holds the key Money matters
CONTENTS 2–3 Welcome 4–5
All I ever wanted
10–13 Just the job 14–19 Transforming futures
28–29 Research holds the key
MESSAGE FROM THE VICE-CHANCELLOR
A place to call home
Welcome to MasterPlan magazine – the publication for those considering postgraduate study at LJMU.
We are delighted you are interested in joining us and trust that you will enjoy hearing all about our inspirational postgraduate community in this edition.
20–27 Never part of the plan
32–33 Money matters 34–35 First class support
Cover image: Kimberley George (see pages 6-7)
Liverpool is a vibrant place to live and work, a global city of opportunity. 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 fascinating routes that have led our students to postgraduate study and how their passions are driving their success. You’ll hear about their educational experiences, how they have been inspired by our academics and how they have developed life-changing skills and knowledge in the course of their studies. Their fascinating stories demonstrate the power of postgraduate study and the incredible experiences that await you in the wonderful city of Liverpool.
Welcome to LJMU WELCOME TO LIVERPOOL Why is it that so many students who graduate in Liverpool choose to stay in the city and make it their home? As you will see below, it’s hard to settle on one reason in particular but, as those of you who live here will already know, Liverpool rocks! Affordable Liverpool’s 50,000 students are all keen to make the most of the city’s fabulous attractions and, as one of the region’s most affordable cities, Liverpool welcomes them to do just that. Culture Where to start? 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. You want culture? You’ve got it!
Eating Something of a foodie? You’re sure to fall in love with Liverpool’s extensive range of international restaurants. And if you’re into café culture, you’ll genuinely be spoilt for choice. Architecture Liverpool has been described by English Heritage as England’s finest Victorian city. We’re talking over 2,500 listed buildings – 27 Grade I and 85 Grade II listed. And if that isn’t impressive enough, Liverpool’s waterfront is a designated World Heritage Site. Green spaces Sefton Park with its historic Palm House, Calderstones Park with its 1,000 year old oak tree and Stanley Park with its Grade II listed Isla Gladstone Conservatory. Come summer, it’s revision and lunch al fresco.
Sport Football you say? You’ve come to the right place! 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.
Nightlife Legendary! With the highlights divided between the city centre, Lark Lane and the Baltic Triangle, there’s something here to suit all tastes. We’d go as far as to say if you’ve never had a night out in Liverpool, you’ve never lived!
Shopping With independent retailers aplenty and every big name you could ask for, Liverpool’s got it covered when it comes to that all important retail therapy.
Hungry for more? Take a look at itsliverpool.com
SCORING WELL ON SATISFACTION The 2017 Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey placed LJMU in the top 25% of Higher Education Institutions in almost every category.
Assessment and feedback were also higher than average, with fairness of marking and promptness of feedback scoring particularly well. Satisfaction with library resources came in at an impressive 90% and access to IT resources scored an excellent 92%.
Our overall satisfaction rate was 87% some 5% higher than the sector average. The University’s results were also significantly above the sector average for course challenge, workload manageability and opportunities to give feedback on the learning experience.
This year’s Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) is open until 15 June. LJMU will make a charity donation of £1 for every survey completed.
IT’S GREAT TO BE GREEN “As a modern civic university, awareness of sustainability issues, alongside demonstrating a commitment to environmental responsibility is essential,” says Professor Phil Vickerman, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Senior Lead for Estates. “This award recognises our success, and comes on the back of a recent BriteGreen award placing LJMU in the top 10 UK universities for carbon reduction.”
LJMU has been named one of the UK’s top 25 green universities. The 2017 UI GreenMetric World University Rankings measure commitment to developing an ‘environmentally friendly’ infrastructure. The rankings are based on: setting and infrastructure, energy and climate change, waste, water, transportation and education.
SILVER AWARD FOR JOSEPH LJMU Social Work student Joseph Vanlint won a top prize at the prestigious Social Worker of the Year Awards. The Awards recognise students who perform well in practical placements and theoretical understanding. Joseph was fortunate enough to win the Silver Award. “You do not need to spend much time with Joe to know that he is a special guy and is going to be both a truly great advocate for the vulnerable people in his care and a great asset to his profession,” commented Professor Raphaela Kane, Executive Director of the Faculty of Education, Health and Community. Joseph’s interest in social work was sparked by personal experience. In addition to studying, he is an active volunteer, working for three years as a music therapy workshop support worker for Mencap, volunteering with Student Action for Refugees and completing a placement with the ADHD Foundation, Liverpool. He also recently completed a successful placement at Liverpool City Council.
“The course was engaging and thought provoking and the staff were always supportive,” says Joseph. “My practice educator on my second placement was the person who nominated me for the award. Social Workers are not often congratulated and work in very stressful and oppressive situations, so to celebrate with an evening of such positivity was amazing.”
LJMU HEADS EAST Late last year, Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Weatherill opened the new LJMU China Centre in Shanghai. The Centre is situated on the campus of Shanghai Normal University (SHNU), LJMU’s strategic partner in China. As well as consolidating our links with SHNU, the Centre will support: collaborations with other institutions, international student recruitment and partnership development. It will also act as a base for students and staff travelling to China.
ALL I EVER WANTED For some students, masters study is very much the next step on the ladder. Itâ€™s a move theyâ€™ve planned for some time and their way of getting to where they want to be in life. Here we meet two students who are following their life plan.
A PASSION THAT’S NOT IN THE GENES Kimberley George’s passion for forensics is certainly not hereditary. The Forensic Bioscience student from Dubai laughs as she describes the horrified reaction of her parents when she discusses her studies with them during family meals.
Course assessment methods are also quite different in the UK. “We only had traditional exams back home,” explains Kimberley. “Doing coursework, writing reports and presenting work has all been new to me. Fortunately though LJMU’s academic support skills sessions are excellent. They are not compulsory but are there if you need them. In my eyes, if you go along to the sessions you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. I love the fact that one-to-one support sessions are also available so, if you don’t feel comfortable getting the help you need in a group, you can see someone on your own.”
“They tell me it’s not normal to be able to discuss such things whilst eating,” she says. “They can’t understand where my love for science has come from but they are very proud of my achievements and delighted that I have come to the UK to further my education.” From the moment she graduated in Forensic Science back home in Dubai, Kimberley knew she wanted to study for her masters. “I worked for a year, first as a Lab Analyst and then a Fragrance Evaluator, to help me fund my studies,” she explains.
Kimberley’s experience of her lecturers is equally positive. “If I need clarification on anything during a lecture I don’t like to raise my hand because I don’t want to hold everyone up. The great thing about John Moores is that lecturers are always around after a session so you can speak to them at length.”
Knowing exactly what she wanted to study, Kimberley identified three universities in the UK and one in the US that offered her chosen course. “I didn’t really want to travel to the US so I started looking at my options in the UK,” she says. “I soon realised the LJMU course was exactly what I wanted. John Moores welcomes international students but offers them the same experience as home students. As an overseas student I did not want a diluted student experience.”
Although Kimberley’s class is quite small, she shares many lectures with other students. “We mix with anthropologists, chemists, drug analysts and biologists and that is brilliant as they all have their own way of looking at the same subject so we also learn from each other,” she says. Thanks to LJMU’s Campus Connect App, Kimberley already has many new friends in Liverpool. “I made a friend via the app and he introduced me to a group of other international students. We all now socialise together,” she explains. “We have been trying out the different restaurants in Liverpool and even had a Halloween Party last year – something very few of us had done before.”
Kimberley found the University’s application process quite straight forward and was particularly pleased when she was able to view her accommodation via Skype before she booked it. She was also impressed by the support provided by LJMU’s international admissions team. “Due to an issue with my visa I only arrived in the UK two days before my course started but my contact Darren really made me feel at ease, talking me through the arrival process and how to get to the city centre from the airport.”
Kimberley is loving life in Liverpool. “The city has so much history. My passion for the UK began when I read the Harry Potter books as a child. Living here now and exploring the old buildings is very much a dream come true. I’m delighted I chose Liverpool.”
Initially, almost every aspect of the UK education system seemed very different to Kimberley. “At home we sit in a classroom and the teachers all come to us. Moving from one lecture theatre to another, therefore, was very strange at first,” she smiles.
SETTING SAIL ON A NEW ADVENTURE With a degree in Business Administration and an honours degree in Logistics, Lee Schwarz was working as a Shipping Co-ordinator for a state-owned petroleum company in Namibia when she decided to return to education. “I had become really interested in the maritime side of things but didn’t have any formal qualifications in that area so I wanted to do a masters,” she said.
Right at the beginning of the programme, Lee’s module leader took the class to the Maritime Museum. “It was a great thing to do not only in terms of knowledge but also in terms of making connections,” she says. “As a group we clicked that day and we have been great friends ever since.” Friendship for Lee and her peers focuses on their shared love of food. “We try as many different restaurants as we can,” she says. And when they are not dining out, the group like to cook together and celebrate UK traditions. “We had a Halloween party and all got together at Christmas to have a meal and share presents.”
Lee knew immediately that she wanted to study in the UK. “The rest of the world looks up to this country when it comes to the maritime industry,” she explains. “The only real decision for me was which university to choose.”
In terms of her academic progress, Lee has found study in the UK to be quite different to that in Namibia. “Picking up academic writing skills was something I had to do quite quickly but our research skills module gave us the knowledge we needed from day one,” she explains. “Staff here are really helpful and always available to talk to you. Whether it’s your academic tutors or the library staff, they will do whatever they can for you – just don’t be afraid to ask!”
Having considered courses in London and Liverpool, Lee chose to study at LJMU: “There was a real focus on the support available to students here. The programme offered significant industry exposure and I really liked the way the University was so affiliated with the city.” Liverpool itself played its own part in bringing Lee to LJMU. “The city reminds me of home due to the friendliness of its people,” she smiles. “I’ve never felt out of place here and the move over was very straight forward.”
In terms of her future career, Lee would like to work in the UK in the port or maritime legal/insurance sector. “The maritime industry doesn’t get the recognition it deserves in all parts of the world so I would quite like to work in the UK,” she says. “I’d be more than happy to settle in Liverpool. I love the city, really enjoy living so close to the docks and am amazed by the live music scene here – people in Liverpool have so much talent.”
Even before she came to the UK, Lee had made friends with fellow masters students thanks to the LJMU App. “We felt like we knew each other before we even arrived,” she says. “I was delighted to have someone I had talked to previously in the same accommodation and on the same course. It made things much easier.”
JUST THE JOB Postgraduate study can open doors in areas other than your current field. Here Joshua and Irene talk to us about how postgraduate study is helping them to refocus their career path and gain work in their chosen sector.
FINDING THE RIGHT PATH Since graduating four years ago with a degree in Media Production, Joshua McDowell has worked in Digital Marketing. “Although I really enjoyed my work, I couldn’t help but feel I wasn’t on the right career path,” he says. “Masters study has put me back on track and, when I graduate, I will be looking for a career rather than a job.”
Another aspect of postgraduate study which is very different from undergraduate is the mix of students on Joshua’s programme. “We have students from China, Luxembourg and Russia,” he says. “There are new graduates, those who have returned to education like me and then older students who have families and work alongside their studies. Learning about new cultures and different experiences is fascinating.”
Studying for a masters in International Journalism, Joshua wants to work in TV as a broadcast journalist or presenter. “My masters is enabling me to expand my knowledge, gain more skills and build up my experience,” he says. “When I was working full-time I had little flexibility to do all of those extra things to enhance my future but now I am writing for magazines, getting involved in University projects outside of my studies and basically making myself more employable.”
Keen to get himself in the best possible shape for the job market, Joshua is making the most of his course. “For me this year is all about networking and making contacts,” he explains. “Our tutors are very good at letting us know when there are subject-related conferences and events. And in terms of practice, the Screen School Production Unit informs us of freelance opportunities so we can gain the experience we need as we study.”
Originally from Portstewart, Northern Ireland, Joshua moved to LJMU for his undergraduate degree. “I was really impressed with the course and already loved Liverpool,” he smiles. “My home town is beautiful but only has a population of 8,000. I wanted to move to a city and Liverpool was perfect.”
With the growth of the North West as a centre for TV production, Joshua is hoping his career can take off locally. “Obviously I’ll go where the work is but, with Salford just down the road and talk of Channel 4 relocating to the area, I believe this area has its finger on the pulse in terms of TV production and I’d love to settle here.”
Joshua worked as Vice President of the Student Union for 12 months after graduating and then moved into Digital Marketing. “It was only this year that I began to seriously consider postgraduate study,” he says. “I knew it would be the right thing to do in terms of getting where I wanted to be but it took the launch of the postgraduate loans to make me realise it was something I could do.”
Thinking of changing career? Here’s why Joshua took the leap. 1. In my heart I knew I was not working in the right industry 2. Many masters courses are not a direct progression from undergraduate study so there are lots of different opportunities at postgraduate level 3. As a home LJMU graduate I got 20% off my tuition fees with the Alumni Award* 4. I was able to apply for a Postgraduate Loan to fund my studies 5. Although I looked at universities in other cities, my heart drew me back to LJMU and Liverpool
Having concentrated on the practical side of broadcasting at undergraduate level, Joshua was keen to brush up on his journalism skills at postgraduate level. “Postgraduate study is very different to undergraduate,” he says. “I wouldn’t say it is tougher but there is a certain level of expectation from the tutors and they don’t spoon feed you. There’s lots of reading and research involved and you really have to organise yourself well. I’m actually on campus more often than I was at undergraduate level.”
*This is also available to EU graduates of LJMU, whilst international graduates can access our International Scholarships.
IRENE SPREADS HER WINGS When Irene Bundi told her IT Project Management colleagues in Kenya that she was leaving her job to return to education they were quite surprised. She then explained that she was also leaving the country to study in the UK.
a nice place and the course seemed exactly what I was looking for.” With her sister still in Liverpool to show her around and help her settle in, Irene has thrown herself into her studies and is really enjoying the course. “It is very interesting and is building on what I already know,” she says. “The academic support is really nice and it is very easy to talk to the lecturers – they are not intimidating at all.”
“Everyone has been really supportive,” says Irene who is studying for her masters in Cyber Security at LJMU. “I worked in IT support and had then moved into IT Project Management but I just knew it was not what I wanted to do. Initially my friends were a little shocked when I told them about my plans but they knew it was the right thing for me.”
Studying alongside recent graduates came as something of a surprise to Irene: “At home people tend to work for a few years after they graduate before going on to masters study but it has been good to mix with such a wide variety of people and hear about their experiences.”
Irene graduated in Computer Science from the University of Nairobi in 2012. “Once I decided to return to education I realised there was no course in Kenya covering exactly what I wanted. I did look at alternatives at home but my mum, who has dual nationality, really wanted me to spread my wings and study overseas.” Irene has always had a passion for the security side of computer studies. “Everything is moving in that direction these days so it seemed like the perfect way to take my studies to the next level,” she explains.
So would Irene recommend postgraduate study overseas? “Absolutely!” she says. “I’d tell my friends to go for it! Sure, it is different and it is a change but change is a positive thing and it’s good to challenge yourself. My mum has always encouraged us to go out and experience new things – she wanted me to know what winter was, for example, and I certainly do now. Here in the UK my heater is my new best friend!”
Considering her study experience as a rare opportunity to “take a break from life”, Irene was immediately drawn to LJMU as her sister had recently undertaken a masters at the University. “When choosing where to study, I found the LJMU website really helpful and the films of students really informative,” she smiles. “My sister told me Liverpool was
Despite the inclement weather, the UK climate has done nothing to deter Irene from life here and she is still undecided whether she would like to work in Liverpool or back home when she graduates. “I just know I want to work in cyber security,” she smiles, “and thanks to my masters, that’s what I am going to do.”
TRANSFORMING FUTURES Masters study is undoubtedly a big step and, for many of our students, the challenges they encounter in the classroom are certainly not the only struggles they have faced in life. Here we speak to three students who have overcome various setbacks to flourish as LJMU postgraduates.
FINDING THAT SILVER LINING With more than 15 years teaching experience under his belt, former Commonwealth games athlete Ioan Hughes decided to turn the stress of redundancy into something entirely positive. Last September he embarked on a part-time masters in Sport Coaching at LJMU.
admits. “Tutors are always available by skype or email but I find the biggest boost is spending a day on campus and really throwing yourself into your studies.” Ioan is working as a supply teacher alongside his studies and finds the balance helps him to put his learning into practice on a weekly basis. “It’s good to be able to combine my experience as an athlete and competitor with my teaching skills and new found knowledge,” he smiles. “In some ways I feel that the programme is helping me to give something back to those in the same position as I was in my competing days.”
Ioan graduated in July 2000 from university in Cardiff before undertaking a PGCE at Bangor and becoming a secondary teacher. Working in the charming town of Llanrwst, North Wales for 14 years, he then took up a post in Dolgellau before being made redundant due to the amalgamation of several local schools.
Despite his belief that he “missed the IT wave” due to his age, Ioan believes there are many advantages coming to masters study as a mature student. “I think the skills I have picked up over the years and the discipline of a full-time job is great preparation for masters study,” he says. “Being a teacher I also appreciate assessment criteria and the detail required in the work I am submitting.”
“If I’m honest, I had become a little stale. I was enjoying teaching less and less and, in many ways, the redundancy was the jolt I needed to refocus,” explains Ioan. As a diehard Everton fan, Ioan had been visiting Liverpool for many years and was already passionate about the city. “I wanted to study somewhere within commuting distance of Anglesey where I live, so my main choices were Liverpool or Manchester,” he says. “Liverpool had the best reputation and so the decision was relatively straight forward.”
So, with the benefit of hindsight, was masters study the right step for Ioan? “Most certainly,” he smiles. “I’ve got my spark back! I’ve always been a conscientious person so I really like taking on the research side of things alongside my practical work. I’d like to go on to do a PhD and then get into lecturing. I’m passionate about my subject and I really want to work with people who share that passion.”
Finding the independent side of study something of a challenge at first, Ioan is now settled into postgraduate life and loves the content of the lectures and the opportunity to undertake research. “I think my main issue was maintaining motivation between face-to-face sessions,” he
BUILDING CONFIDENCE With an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Chester, Natalie Broughton decided to undertake a Public Health Addictions masters at LJMU. Worried that her lack of real world experience would hold her back, however, she embarked on the course with some trepidation.
Natalie’s results are also proving very pleasing. “Moving institutions you always wonder if your research techniques will be accepted and your writing style will be considered good enough,” she says. “When you realise they are, it really boosts your confidence and makes you believe you can succeed.” Indeed, so happy is Natalie with her studies that she is beginning to think this may not be the end of her educational journey. ”I’m considering a PhD,” she smiles. “I want to specialise in Addictions and use my expertise in the field to make a real difference.”
“Although I volunteer in the sector on a regular basis I was worried that studying alongside health professionals would show up my lack of experience,” explains Natalie. “With midwives, nurses, local authority workers and a host of experienced international students on my course I must admit to feeling a little cautious.”
So what advice does Natalie have for those worried about moving on to postgraduate study straight from an undergraduate degree? “I’d say apply for as many things as you are interested in,” she enthuses. “Go to open days, ask questions and find what you love. It’s better to start something with the slight chance it may not be for you than to ignore an opportunity that could change your life.”
Now a semester into her course, however, Natalie realises that the source of her concern is actually the very inspiration for much of her learning. “I love hearing things from different perspectives and taking in all of the different views,” she smiles. “It encourages me to do more research and form my own opinions. It has really fired my enthusiasm.”
A PASSION FOR LIFE If you’d have told 16 year-old Stephen Walker that, in 12 years’ time, he would be studying for a masters in Advanced Computer Studies he simply wouldn’t have believed you. Undergoing tests for a brain tumour, the bookish teenager found it a struggle to walk from one side of a room to another, let alone attend school full-time.
During the last year of his studies, Stephen’s condition took a turn for the worse and, although he wanted to undertake a masters course, he realised the timing simply wasn’t right. “I worked for two years at a dental surgery doing some reception work,” Stephen explains. “Once I felt that my condition was back under control I applied for the masters in Advanced Computer Studies at LJMU.”
Stephen’s story is one of passion for learning and utter determination, he has constantly set himself goals and planned his future in detail. “I’ve always liked learning and I picked up computing very early,” he says. “I am passionate about how the applications of computing can help people.”
Stephen is enjoying his studies and is keener than ever to go into computer forensics. “It is an area which is increasingly important in today’s society,” he says. “There is an explosion of companies that work for the Police, providing the evidence they need to build cases and charge suspects. It is the ideal sector for me as it is the perfect example of computing being used to help and protect people. It also puts me where I want to be: at the cutting edge of digital forensics.”
Stephen’s education was progressing well until, in his midteens, he was struck down with a mystery illness. Leaving him unable to do anything more than focus on the day-today, the condition baffled medics. Tests for a brain tumour came back negative but it took years to identify the correct medication and start to control the pain.
So how do Stephen’s family feel about his inspirational journey? “I owe everything to my mum as I simply wouldn’t have survived without her fighting for me,” he smiles. “She has always been proud that I have made an effort to keep working and fighting the illness.”
“I was house bound for over two years and it drove me crazy,” reflects Stephen. “I wanted to do something with my life but all I could do was try to get through each day. My condition robbed me of years of my life and made me determined to make up for lost time.”
In many ways Stephen’s illness has made him what he is today. “I spent so much time doing nothing and missing opportunities that I developed the drive to go as far as I possibly could,” he says. “As soon as I was able to function I just took on whatever I could, ignoring the possibility that I may get tired or feel pressure. I think going into education later meant that I knew exactly what I wanted from the outset and took the whole experience more seriously. I want to use my knowledge in industry initially and much longer term I want to teach in higher education. At the end of the day it’s all about making a difference.”
At the age of 21, Stephen was able to return to study, undertaking a BTEC in Computer Networks. Two years later he enrolled on a Computing degree at Edge Hill University. Aiming to teach his subject in higher education, he chose modules covering a wide range of areas. It was at this point he developed an interest in and an aptitude for digital forensics. Stephen threw himself into university life, taking on four or five campus-based jobs during his studies and even developing a student budgeting app. “I wanted to make the most of every minute,” he says. “I love working with people and spending so much time on my own during my illness made me want to get involved wherever I could.”
NEVER PART OF THE PLAN Masters study isn’t always a long term choice. Some people don’t believe they’ve got the right background for it, others are simply tired of studying and then there are those who think they’ll never find a course that’s right for them. Here we meet the students who didn’t expect to become postgraduates.
RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME Charlotte Vanner never planned to do a masters. Having graduated in Family and Childhood Studies from university in Wrexham she felt very much done with education.
Now well into her studies, Charlotte is still every bit as happy with her choice of programme and institution. “I love everything about it from the wide range of people on the course to the respect that everyone has for each other,” she enthuses. “I’ve been fascinated by the lectures and I’ve learned so much about the political context of the world today. I’ve become far more socially aware and I’ve started to question things more.”
“I graduated in 2014 and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next so I took a year out,” Charlotte explains. “I moved up to Liverpool with my partner, worked in retail for a while, went travelling over the summer and then got a job in a secondary school as a Special Needs Teaching Assistant.”
Charlotte’s time on the course has also led her to re-evaluate her core interests. “From the first time I spoke to Malcolm I was fascinated by his interest in mental health and, as time has gone by, I have realised that this is an area I want to work in,” she says. “My first course placement is with Mencap, working with adults with learning disabilities and I will be basing my dissertation on this. It has been a privilege to meet service users, as well as providers, and hear their side of the story and what they need from us.”
By the end of her degree, Charlotte had started to identify Social Work as an area she would like to move into. “It was very much a pipe dream when I graduated. I had done my dissertation on safeguarding and child protection and it seemed like an area I could make a difference in,” she says. “My time out had given me the opportunity to mature and get some life experience and so I started to think about it more seriously.” Visiting an LJMU Postgraduate Open Day with her partner who was joining the University to study for a masters in Journalism, Charlotte met Social Work Programme Leader Malcolm Kinney. “Something just clicked that day,” smiles Charlotte. “Malcolm was inspiring. He made the course sound so interesting. I knew I had to apply.”
In terms of postgraduate study, Charlotte admits it can be a stretch. “You have to study a subject you are passionate about,” she says. “I do this because I want to. I’m not being made to do it. There’s an awful lot of reading involved, you have to work independently and use your own initiative but life’s too short to be stuck in a job you don’t love and I’ve really found my passion at LJMU.”
Charlotte’s visit to LJMU also enabled her to see the University’s facilities first hand. “I was blown away, the facilities were incredible and I realised I could be really happy here,” she says. “When I came for my interview I met more of the staff and really liked them. Having experienced LJMU I didn’t even attend the interviews I had lined up elsewhere.”
BE THE BEST YOU CAN BE MBA student Paul Growney is living proof that a business brain can be used for more than just commercial success. The charity sector specialist is putting his learning to good use, benefitting a social care organisation which works right across Merseyside.
programme that would develop my professional skills to enhance the business.” Paul’s masters journey began when he met the MBA programme leader from LJMU. “I was hugely impressed by Andy and the course – its local nature, action and peer learning, the reliance on regional business expertise and the selective nature of the cohort,” he enthuses. “Every time we meet as a group I learn so much from Andy whose real world expertise is invaluable and from my peers whose backgrounds are entirely different to my own.”
With an undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Liverpool, Paul got involved in the charity sector volunteering with the Samaritans as an undergraduate. He then embarked on a Graduate Management Trainee Scheme with the National Skills Academy for Social Care. After a short-term position with a local authority he began work with a small social enterprise organisation, being appointed director after just 18 months.
Now studying hard on his part-time course, Paul is already reaping the benefits. “I am putting my learning into practice every day and the business is seeing the benefits,” he says. “In many ways I work very much in isolation here and the University sessions give me that opportunity to let off steam, to share challenges I wouldn’t want to burden my colleagues with here and to learn from the experience of others on my course.”
“I soon realised that my skills were very much focussed on the business side of things,” explains Paul. “I took on a business consultancy role for Wirral Council Voluntary Services, delivering a project which created 40 full-time jobs and worked with 120 social organisations. I became deputy CEO of Wirral CVS two years ago and through that role was made CEO of home care specialists Caring Connections.”
So would Paul recommend going back to education? “Absolutely” he says. “It is hard work and can be difficult to fit everything in at times but it is enhancing my skills so that I can improve the business and be a better leader. I don’t want a different job because I am where I want to be, I just want to do my job to the best of my ability and, of course, gain formal recognition of my learning.”
So what took the evidently successful Paul back to the classroom? “I’ve never been keen on study for study’s sake and a lot of MBAs seem like that to me,” he explains. “If I was going to go back into education I wanted a
KNOCKOUT MASTERS STUDY FOR JOHN Masters study was never going to be anything more than a pipe dream for 51 year-old John Warburton – or so he thought until a chance meeting with an LJMU academic transformed his way of thinking.
“One day, through work, I bumped into Dr James Morton from LJMU’s Faculty of Sport and Exercise Sciences. I mentioned I would love to do a masters but had no undergraduate degree. He told me not to worry as my experience could get me there and that’s when everything changed.”
With more sports coaching experience than you could possibly imagine yet no undergraduate degree, John has devoted his life to boxing. A former Children’s Services Manager and business owner, John turned his passion into his career when he was asked to manage the famous Smith Boxing Academy. “I have a teaching qualification so I teach BTEC in the morning and coach boxing in the afternoon,” he says. “As a youngster I boxed at regional level but didn’t make it to the top so now I have a real passion for getting others to the heights I wasn’t able to hit.”
Never one to shy away from a challenge, John took on the masters full-time, alongside his full-time academy management job and his part-time role coaching for England Boxing. “It’s just a case of time management,” he smiles. “I keep Fridays as my uni day whether I’m on site or not. Like everyone, I have days when I worry if I am up to masters study but the support here is amazing – not only from the tutors but also from the library staff.”
A Talent Development Coach on the England Boxing Talent Performance Pathway, John works with the top 300 boxers in the country. Indeed, ask him who he has worked with and he’ll reel off a who’s who of boxing royalty. From David Hay, Amir Khan and Paul Smith to Anthony Bellew, Anthony Fowler and Audley Harrison, John has coached them all.
So is university living up to John’s expectations? “Obviously I’m not having the same university experience as most students because I’m at a different stage of my life but I can honestly say I’m loving every minute,” he explains. “I’d tell anyone in my situation to go for it. Masters study is one of the best moves I’ve ever made. There’s no pressure from outside and I enjoy that lack of pressure. I’ve even come across some possible future opportunities which is something I really didn’t expect.”
So what brought John to postgraduate study? “I’d always thought I’d like to do a masters but with no undergraduate degree I didn’t even bother looking into it,” he reflects.
LAURA’S HEART’S IN THE ARTS When Laura Parsons embarked on her masters in Cities, Culture and Creativity she was doing it purely for the qualification. Now in the second year of her part-time programme she has found a greater cause. Setting out into the world of work with a Bachelor of Music degree from Lancaster University, 21 year-old viola player Laura soon realised her dreams of being a professional musician may not be that easy to achieve. Determined not to give up on her chosen sector, however, Laura went into the administration side of the music industry, working first for a London agency representing soloists and later as Artistic Planning Coordinator at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. “After a while I realised I needed a break from music,” recalls Laura. “I guess I’d dealt with one too many temperamental pianists!” Jumping, some would say, out of the frying pan into the fire, Laura became a Client Relationship Manager in a corporate law firm. “Granted there were fewer artistic divas to work with but it still wasn’t what I was looking for,” she smiles. Things started looking up for Laura when, a couple of years ago, she was appointed Development Officer at Tate Liverpool, managing relationships with university partners. “I guess liaising with the universities took my mind back to education and I started thinking that if I wanted to move up the ladder I should pursue a masters,” she explains. Exploring cultural policy and urban theory, Laura admits to finding her masters programme academically rigorous. “It is very academic,” she smiles. “It is also very interdisciplinary and I really, really love that.”
Laura studies alongside a small group of students from marketing, geography, film-making, art and even policing backgrounds. “Everyone brings something different to the course and is looking to take something different from it,” she says. “The great thing is that your studies impact your likes and dislikes as you go along. Of the four main modules on the course, I thought I had no interest in grass roots community work until I did a case study. I’m now fascinated by the topic.” Working full-time and studying part-time isn’t always easy, as Laura will tell you. “I think each essay is equivalent to another week’s full-time work,” she says. “I admit I’m not always the best at maintaining the momentum so, in the weeks leading up to an assignment, my hours of work go through the roof.” Now 12 months into her studies, you might expect Laura to be planning her next move in the job market. “Actually things have changed on that front,” she laughs. “I started off wanting a qualification but now I’ve got a passion that I want to take further. My dream would be to change the elitist nature of the arts, enabling more people to access cultural attractions and, indeed, secure work in the sector. That’s why I’ve decided to do a PhD. I want to research how I can make a real difference in the sector I love.”
RESEARCH HOLDS THE KEY Many of our students come to LJMU to join our thriving community of researchers. So, what can you expect from PhD study and what is life like for a PhD candidate? We talk to two researchers who simply love what they do.
Living proof that life doesn’t stop when PhD study starts, Civil Engineer Ameer Jebur not only has a flourishing academic career, he also has two young sons who were born in the UK after he came here with his wife in 2013 to embark on the next stage of his education. Ameer studied for his undergraduate and masters degrees in Baghdad before taking up his tutor’s advice to come to the UK for PhD study. “I came over here initially to do an English Language course as I knew it would be needed for my studies,” he explains. “Once here I investigated the different cities and universities and found that not only did Liverpool offer great value for money, the staff at LJMU were exceptional and the facilities outstanding. Even now, if I find I need something in my work, I only have to tell my supervisor and it is ordered for me.” Studying Geotechnics Engineering and planning long term to become a lecturer, Ameer felt at home in Liverpool from the start. “The people are very friendly here and it was easy to sort out my accommodation and everything I needed,” he says. Ameer’s first son Mohammed was born in Cardiff whilst he was studying for his English Language qualification. Two years later Hassan was welcomed to the family, born in the Liverpool Women’s Hospital. Reflecting on his time in Liverpool, Ameer is keen to recommend LJMU. “The main thing I want to say is just how good the supervision and training here really are,” he says. “LJMU has been the perfect choice for me and I would recommend it to anyone.”
DOCTORAL LIFESTYLES 28
ASK A PHD STUDENT
Was it hard to settle in Liverpool? “I love Liverpool, it is just the right size and everything is close by. I initially came to the city on my own to find accommodation for my family and then, when everything was organised, they came over too. We have all found it easy to settle here, my oldest daughter is at school and we are enjoying life. Liverpool is a very friendly place and I would certainly recommend it.”
Cardiovascular Physiology specialist Mohammed Quasem talks about his PhD studies. How did you choose LJMU? “I undertook a great deal of research when moving on from masters to PhD study. I started by looking at the literature available on my subject and seeing who had written the key papers. Next I looked at the university rankings for my area of interest and did some research into the staff. I realised that the figures who were well known in my field were from LJMU and with the excellent ranking of the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, it was the obvious choice for me.” Why did you move overseas for postgraduate study? “I am originally from Kuwait and was sponsored by the Ministry of Health to advance my studies in the UK. Kuwait sends a lot of students here as continuous progression is not available in certain subjects back home. Travelling overseas to study is a great thing to do. It is important to improve yourself and that might mean thinking outside of the box and looking for what you need outside of your comfort zone.” Is PhD a lonely experience? “I think at one time PhD was a lonely experience but certainly not these days. PhD study is now multi-disciplinary by its very nature. You always need help from other areas so, for example, I may be working with an IT specialist one day and a statistics specialist the next. You simply can’t do everything yourself so you work as a team.” What do you do if you need help with your studies? “PhD study is a challenge and you need to be patient when you are struggling and put in a great deal of effort. One thing I have really noticed about LJMU, however, is the availability of the support. It is unlike the places I have studied before because help always finds you. I receive emails, brochures and manuals letting me know what is available in terms of training and workshops. My advice is to make the most of the opportunities you come across and make full use of the facilities and services. On graduation you will be a more rounded person and more prepared for the workplace.”
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
CAREERS EXPERTISE CAREERS SUPPORT AND MORE
• Our MyJobsandPlacements website (ljmu.prospects.ac.uk/) where you can look for graduate jobs, internships, placements, voluntary work and more. Opportunities from the site are also featured on jobs boards in Careers Zones
Whatever your career ambitions, LJMU’s Careers Team is on hand to help enhance your employability, add value to your university experience and help you take the necessary steps to achieve your career goals.
• School-specific Career Planning Guides (featuring student and graduate case studies and employability articles) and programme-specific Career Insight guides (highlighting career options related to your degree) are available to download from the Careers website – https://www2.ljmu.ac.uk/careers
Other highlights of our service include: • Campus-based Careers Zones which allow you to access careers support closer to where you study – call in to find out about the range of services available to you
• Careers Zone 24/7 – a range of online careers tools, including CV builder, interview simulator, psychometric testing practice portal and more
• One-to-one careers advice and guidance from expert Employability Advisers and Career Advisers – phone 0151 231 2048/3719 or call into your nearest Careers Zone to make an appointment
• Regular employer events and careers fairs as well as careers workshops and webinars (online classes) on CVs, application forms, interviews, psychometric tests etc – https://careers.ljmu.ac.uk/Default.aspx
DID YOU KNOW?
• Mock interviews to perfect your technique and build your confidence – phone 0151 231 2048/3719 to arrange
An impressive 96.3%* of LJMU taught postgraduates are in work or further study six months after graduation.
• CareerSmart e-learning tool – all postgraduates have the opportunity to engage with the tool which will introduce you to the steps involved in making informed choices about your career – email CareerSmart@ljmu.ac.uk if you want to take part
One of the reasons we can boast such great statistics is the excellent careers support available to each and every LJMU student.
MONEY MATTERS 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: • 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 £10,609 (2018 rate). 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
• 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 • Postgraduate International Scholarships 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 • 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
DID YOU KNOW? • If you are a home/EU graduate with a degree from LJMU, an Alumni discount of 20% off your postgraduate tuition fees is available* • Funding is also provided by research councils, charities and trusts • The University has a Student Support Fund for those facing unexpected hardship or who have caring responsibilities such as a partner or children • 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
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 services. You’ll find details of the main services here but, if you are not quite sure what support you need, either email firstname.lastname@example.org or call in and see us on campus.
• Accommodation 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 email@example.com. You can also contact our private sector housing adviser based at Liverpool Student Housing, email: firstname.lastname@example.org • 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: email@example.com • 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Finance Whether you need information on scholarships, loans or bursaries or some help budgeting, our Finance Advisers have the answers you need, email: email@example.com
LJMU’s dedicated international team is here to support overseas students from the moment you decide to study with us.
• International Student Support For one-to-one and group sessions on topics such as visa applications or cultural issues contact: 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’.
• Student Engagement Team This new team is available to help with any issues affecting your studies, whether you have problems relating to your mental wellbeing, practical issues or simply want someone to talk to about the stresses of university life. You can contact them at: 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.
ACADEMIC SUPPORT When you begin your studies at LJMU you may need help with certain academic topics. Our study skills classes provide valuable support for students at all levels. 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.
LIBRARY SUPPORT 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 frontline 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.
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
CONTACT DETAILS FACULTIES
Faculty of Arts, Professional and Social Studies: firstname.lastname@example.org
Faculty of Education, Health and Community: (education admissions)
(health admissions) email@example.com Faculty of Engineering and Technology: firstname.lastname@example.org
International enquiries: email@example.com
Liverpool Student Homes: firstname.lastname@example.org
Faculty of Science:
Liverpool Business School: email@example.com
The Doctoral Academy (contact form): https://www.ljmu.ac.uk/forms/enquiry
Visit ljmu.ac.uk or connect with us on Twitter @LJMU
The magazine for LJMU postgraduates