Rachel is studying a Masters by Research in English Literature

Rachel - English PhD student

"Just over a year after completing my English degree here, I applied to be a research student, specialising in the early literature of Margaret Atwood. I am funding it with a postgraduate loan through Student Finance Wales. 

My research

"My focus is on Atwood’s portrayal of fat bodies in her earlier works comparing them to two more contemporary texts to see how far writers and society have come in the exploration of issues such as body positivity, diet culture and the way fat bodies are viewed and written about. 

Writing a research proposal

"The application process was smooth and easy to follow, with the bulk of the application lying in my research proposal.

"Proposal writing is not something I had done before, and at first I was apprehensive. I soon found that the process of writing a proposal was not dissimilar to writing my undergraduate essays. It involved an extensive literature search on the novels I was interested in writing about and seeing where my ideas could fit in in the existing work.

"After the initial research was done, I drafted my proposal, making sure to make clear what my methodology for the research project would be, and how my work would fit in to the wider literary sphere. It was an enjoyable process and a good way to ease myself back into writing and research following a break from education.

Support for researchers

"I chose USW because my experience as an undergraduate was fantastic. I felt so supported and knew that my Masters would be no different. As well as this, given the area of my research, I knew the staff expertise at USW would align perfectly with my own work. The campus is welcoming and friendly. I feel at home at USW. 

"There is a variety of support available to student researchers. First and foremost there is my supervisory team, made up of three members of staff. They are on hand to help with my research, to read drafts of my work and to help motivate me.

"The Graduate School run various workshops throughout the year. Some workshops are for networking, some help with presentation skills.

Advice to research students

"Even a few months into my research degree, I am still very excited each time I come across a new quotation or article that would be useful. I truly believe that if you are passionate about what you do, it will never feel like tedious work."

"This research degree will make a huge difference in my life and career path. I want to further my education to a PhD and want to stay in academia as a researcher and hopefully one day, a university lecturer. The Masters by Research is the perfect stepping stone to a PhD."