Hello Postgraduate Offer Holders!

Hi Hannah here,

I’m a full time ClimaHannahte Change: Environment, Science and Policy MSc student in the Department of Geography. I would like to wish you many congratulations on your offer to study at King’s College London, something to be really proud of!

In the course of the next few weeks you will be hearing from me and other students from the Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy with information about life at King’s, our own  postgraduate experiences and what it’s like to live in London.

Next month we are launching a buddy programme where you will receive emails from us, have the chance to chat with us over virtual fairs, and can follow our blog posts. We hope that we can be a helpful resource to you while you prepare to study at postgraduate level.

If you have any questions feel free to send them our way, we’d love to hear from you! In the meantime, stay tuned to see more blog posts from us soon.

Balance and planning your dissertation by Mian

Mian photoI am a student pursuing an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages. My dissertation is a questionnaire-based study, which means it will take a lot of time to design, hand out, collect my data, and analyse it. I prepared my questionnaire design in April and used the entire month of May to collect data from my participants. At the same time, I was studying the third-term modules and doing the assignments for each class. Following the third term, I travelled to Norway in order to clear my mind and relax; it is important to approach the dissertation with a level head. Currently, I am analysing my research data and writing my dissertation. Overall a well-planned schedule is really useful for a smooth dissertation period, and may help you avoid suffering to complete your work too close to the deadline! :D

Dissertation and the British Summer Time by Shayda

Hey everyone!

Today’s entry is about staying balanced, while maintaining focus, during the dissertation period. This discussion couldn’t be more fitting for this time of year: we’re in mid-July now, which means there’s only a month and a half to go! Summertime in London creates an interesting predicament for MA students who need to stay atop our research, while also enjoying the rarity of a sunny afternoon.

In the dissertation period I’ve realised that it’s very easy to dip in and out of productivity, and unfortunately I’ve experienced it firsthand.  I had a strong couple of weeks researching in the middle of June but, rather than keeping up the momentum, I found myself neglecting my responsibilities as I subconsciously felt justified in taking a long break. The problem for me is that I also work full-time. I had a pretty big reality check last week as I noted my August rota and came to realise how little time I have left before my dissertation is due.

The million pound question is then how do we successfully balance work and study? First and foremost, be honest with yourself and your capabilities. If you’re planning to be employed during dissertation time it’s important for you to make yourself a realistic research schedule. Outside of my “relaxation period” I’ve made weekly goals of either reaching a specific word count or finishing a subsection. I try not to push myself too far and make individual goals catered around what my life is like each week, as I feel it’s important to avoid feeling discouraged by failure of not achieving those goals.

The second important thing is to make some time for your friends. Yes, they will be there when you finish, and yes there will be social events after your dissertation deadline, but it’s important to stay sane during this intense period. Reward yourself for meeting your goals by allowing yourself a cheeky day or night out with your friends to unwind and give your brain a break. As it stands, I research after work and typically allocate all of my days off work to research as well, but give myself one to two nights a week after work to socialise. I have found this to be the best way of maintaining research alongside employment and friends (assuming I make the most out of my days off)!

Staying balanced during the dissertation period by Ingvild

Ing photoWhile writing your master’s dissertation at King’s (and almost every other university in the U.K.), everyone else is enjoying their summer holiday on vacation or doing other things to enjoy their break from school or work. Therefore, I have discovered some things to help me keep motivated and efficient throughout the dissertation period. Here are my tips:

  • Organize: From the very beginning of your dissertation period after the examination period in May, start to plan your summer. Maybe divide the time before the dissertation deadline into different parts with specific goals for each chunk of time. This will all help you to keep the bigger picture in mind, and help you structure your days. It will also keep you calm, because you are following a track you know will end with you being done.
  • Break: Take a break after the examination period, even if it is just a few days; it will make the transition to writing your dissertation much easier. It will also help your mind prepare to produce your best work yet, all during one summer. And, after the exams, you deserve a break from school!
  • Plan the fun: Plan fun activities all throughout the summer, so you always have something to look forward to. This helps to keep motivated and efficient when you are working.
  • Study together: the library is significantly emptier in the summer months than during the year. As a result, it can feel quite lonely and demotivating to study alone each day. Therefore, I choose to often go with friends to the library, so we can have break together and talk about things that do not involve the dissertation or school at all.

 

-Ing

Staying balanced during dissertation period by Tamim

This dedicated work space with two computer screens is the secret to my dissertation. I use one for conducting research (left) and one for the write-up (right). Having this setup has proved so useful to me as I can really immerse myself in the dissertation and push forward with it.

This dedicated work space with two computer screens is the secret to my dissertation. I use one for conducting research (left) and one for the write-up (right). Having this setup has proved so useful to me as I can really immerse myself in the dissertation and push forward with it.

I am a part-time master’s student so I effectively had 2 years to prepare and implement my dissertation. However, because I work full-time, it was still a challenge. My advice? Plan, plan, and plan some more. Ensure you know your topic before you even start your master’s and make sure it is something you are passionate about! That is so important. And ensure to contact your supervisor as quickly as possible and build up that very important relationship with them in order to have their support. The more the supervisor knows about your circumstances the more they can help you. The next stage after that is to get your ethical approval as quickly as possible; this allows you to get on with the all important research and interviews.

Research & write-up

I always believe that you can never stop researching your dissertation topic, so I don’t like to put a deadline for research. For instance, I researched for two months which allowed enough time to understand where I want to go with the project. You should treat research and writing as parallel, not necessarily sequential.  I have listed few points below that I experienced during my journey:

  1. Feeling overwhelmed. After writing the first thousand words I realized I had 15 times that amount left to write in the next 5 months, atop working full time and having a wife and baby girl I need to take care of. I became very overwhelmed, but I took a deep breath and reminded myself my mother did her PhD with four children and a full-time job. The moral of the story is that there are thousands of students just like me who endure harder situations, and yet have managed great successes in their dissertations. So just carry on working, and it will be done.
  1. My supervisor gave me a good pointer: Thinking is research too. That means when you are thinking about your dissertation but not on the computer, that is still time well spent. Also, closing your computer when you have writer’s block isn’t a bad thing. Go for a walk, read a book, or simply sit there and think about it. This allows you to understand your research more. In my case I played with my daughter while thinking about what I should include. This helped me cover a lot and push through that writer’s block.
  1. Utilizing the resources available. There are dissertation seminars that provide you with a good understanding as well as your supervisor. Furthermore if you really don’t know where to start, follow this library link.* This is your one stop shop for academic literature on your subject. The interface is straightforward and there’s an excellent help file there.

*Click on ‘find databases’. Type in ‘IBSS’. Follow the link to International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (for social science subjects).

Q&A with Mian, MA Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)

PG Mian's photo

Why did you choose to study MA TESOL?
I have always been fascinated by linguistics.

Why did you choose to study at King’s?
King’s reputation as a global top-20 university attracted me. And its location in London, which means loads of job opportunities and activities that students can take part in: movie festivals, fashion week, cultural festivals.

Where are the students in your class from?
They are from China, Japan, Thailand, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, UK…

How are the tutors of your course? 
Nick is the programme director and he is so nice; he is always willing to offer academic advice, life advice or books to students :)

Mian Hu is from China and studies an MA in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) at King’s College London. The photo was taken when I was doing my teaching practice at IH (International House, London), which is a language school for overseas students. We study the theoretic teaching principles at King’s, and then practice these principles and approaches at IH. This MA model aims to fill in the gap between SLA (second language acquisition) theory and practice, which is challenging and provides a sense of fulfilment.

For more information about Mian’s course, please follow the link.

Q&A with Shayda, MA Bioethics and Society

PG Shayda's photoWhich book changed your life?
Practical Ethics by Peter Singer.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
The 100 Club on September 20th, 1976. The line-up was the Sex Pistols, The Clash and Siouxsie & the Banshees.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
In all honesty, getting accepted into my master’s programme. Education is hard work!

What is your most treasured possession?
My dog, Sophie.

If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
The giant HMV on Oxford Street.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
John Cusack’s character in Say Anything… I melt every time.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Probably “dude” and “awesome”.

How do you relax?
I spend a lot my time (and money) going to gigs around London. The wild energy and loud music force you to forget your troubles, live in the moment and have an awesome time.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Dr Greg Graffin. I’d love to discuss punk rock, academia and politics over a meal and bottle of red.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Stop leaving things to last minute.

When were you happiest?
When I was at my first gig. I was nine, and it was Steps, and I loved every minute of it.

What is the best advice you’ve ever given?
Don’t waste time worrying about things you can’t change; learn from the past and look to the future.

What inspired you to study your field?
John Harris’ work on human enhancement. Everyone should read his stuff; he packs in a lot of punch in his work.

What would your best friend say is your best quality?
Probably loyalty; I never leave my friends behind.

Born in London, Shayda Kashef is a part-time Bioethics & Society postgraduate student in the Department of Social Science, Health & Medicine. She graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from King’s College, making her the only King’s alumni in her programme. While she enjoyed studying philosophy, her passion is in applied ethics. Her research primarily focuses on the ethical obligation behind the use of PGD to select out the Huntington’s gene. Her dream is to be at the forefront of new advancements and technologies related to human enhancement, pushing for a healthier tomorrow.
For more information about Shayda’s course, please follow this link.

Q&A with Francesca, MA International Relations

PG Francesca photoWhat do you consider your greatest achievement?
I don’t think I can answer that until I am really old.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
New York during the 1920s the era of flappers, silent movies, speakeasies, jazz, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Who would play you in the film of your life?
Eva Green would be great, but she’s a bit too cool. My life is more of an awkward comedy and I don’t think that’s her genre.


If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
Dinosaurs. It would be completely impractical but it would make the commute to University exciting.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A humanitarian, a writer, a reporter, an explorer. Ideas that still appeal to me now.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Putting my life into perspective; my own worries, fears and disappointments often are not as devastating as I think they are.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
Nothing. Not because it has been perfect but I think it is better to focus on the present.

What inspired you to study your field?
As a student in Sweden I was surrounded by people committed to and engaged with international affairs, and I really wanted to learn more and be part of that. Studying International Relations was a way to continue my insatiable desire for knowledge and understanding the world, although I think I am now more confused and conflicted!

Born in London, Francesca Scott is a postgraduate student in the Department of War Studies studying an MA in International Relations. Francesca studied History as an undergraduate at Leeds University and spent a year abroad studying in Sweden. It was in Sweden that she first realised her insatiable interest in war, conflict and international affairs as she attended conferences given by esteemed speakers such as former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan and former US Attorney General Eric Holder.

For more information about Francesca’s course, please follow the link.