(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maccari-Cicero.jpg Wikipedia access date: 20/01/2013)
Tomorrow I will be giving a presentation to second year law students who are contemplating continuing on the path of further-education to postgraduate studies. I will be speaking about my experiences of studying a non-law subject (namely, philosophy) at a masters level. I have decided that I am not going to writing anything specific about what I am going to say. As although this would make life easier for me, it would be tediously dull for my audience. Instead, I am going to be adventurous and speak without written words. This may be very foolish. As I still have vivid flash-backs to the school play where the 10-year-old me (…okay 14-year-old me) was utterly frozen speechless on stage, turning a brighter shade of pink and for what seemed like the best part of an hour. Oh, and that this was in front of the entire school and their parentals!Since then I have given numerous presentations and last year I gave my first conference paper. I do still struggle with lots of fear. But public speaking is an art which requires a vast amount of practice and refinement. Fear and nerves prevent and hinder the ‘information transmission’. This much is rational and clear. So the only sound conclusion is that I must overcome the fear (..or stay fearful and hide-away from the world in a cupboard, or something similar.)
So, now that I am no longer fearful (kind of) I am deciding the content of what I will be saying tomorrow. Accordingly, below is my experiences of how I got to decide to become a PhD student (*rather my story, recollection and representation of the past).
HELPFUL TIPS FOR OTHERS CONSIDERING POSTGRADUATE STUDIES.
Have a clear goal in mind about what you want from your MA and the extra value it will provide for your future. As I was researching for my undergraduate dissertation I stumbled into Continental Philosophy. In addition to studying Jurisprudence as an undergraduate here, I also had the opportunity to study different aspects of philosophy such as Applied Ethics and the Philosophy of Law in Italy. I knew that I wanted to pursue my research further and that I wanted to understand better Continental Philosophy and the context in which these thinkers emerged. So I had a clear goal of what I wanted to achieve with my Master’s qualification and the value that it would bring to my PhD studies and my overall project. With this in mind I began researching universities which offered MA Philosophy courses with a particular emphasis on Continental Philosophy.
Money. Another important consideration , which you will also need to think about is money cost – I was self-funding my MA tuition fees (£4,950 for Home Students). So I was quite lucky that the University wasn’t too far away so that I could commute from home.
Be pro-active about your learning. When I was researching universities I had a look at the course information on the website at several universities and I called lots of them to find out a bit more information about the courses available and whether there was any knowledge assumed and whether they could suggest any books to read prior to the courses beginning. So I called the number on the website I of the University I chose for my MA and spoke to someone straight away in the philosophy department. I thought I was just through to admissions so I asked about courses available and I then started talking about my research interests…(long time…passed where I was talking)…. And towards the end of the conversation I realized I was talking to the Head of the School of Philosophy! I expected to be simply palmed off to someone in admissions, who doesn’t really want to know me, what I’m doing or why I’m interested in that particular course, but this appraoch was a breath of fresh air! In fact, I really enjoyed my MA and I took full advantage of the Philosophy Society every Friday and the Informal Philosophy Classes every other week, which were not compulsory at all, but were undertaken and taken by people who really enjoyed the subject.
…I hope that this may help someone.