School of English
   
   
  

Graduate Profiles

Our distance learning programmes attract a wide variety of students who are drawn by the flexibility of the courses on offer.

Many take our programmes in order to enhance their current careers, others go on to PhDs, while some study purely out of interest.

Below are a few of our recent distant learner graduates.

Distance Learning Graduates
The School of English offers a range of Masters (MA) programmes via web-based distance learning.
 
 
Sam Barclay
MA Applied Linguistics and English Language Teaching

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Why did you choose our distance learning programme?

I decided to do an MA in Applied Linguistics and English language teaching for both personal and pragmatic reasons. I have been interested in language and language teaching for a long time and I hoped that by studying on this programme, I could deepen my understanding of, and learn the skills to conduct research in, this field. I was also aware that an MA would show potential employers that I am dedicated to the profession and serious about my work – that I see it as a career, not just a job. Additionally, in Japan (where I currently live) an MA is often needed to get full-time teaching positions at colleges and universities.

Due to work and personal commitments, my only option was to study on a distance learning programme. Initially, the reputation of the School of English and the University drew me to Nottingham. When I took a closer look at the school and in particular the curriculum, I was struck by the freedom the programme offered. I love that it is possible to take modules from applied linguistics, language pedagogy, and literary linguistics. I found that my interest in language and language teaching deepened as a result of exploring diverse areas of the curriculum. Furthermore, I can honestly say that every module I took, even if it did not seemingly relate to language teaching directly, has both informed my teaching and made me a better educator.

What was your experience of studying by distance learning on our programme?

Studying on the distance learning programme can be challenging, but is ultimately very rewarding. Practically, although I was able to access journal articles and book chapters online through the university system, I missed having access to a library full of books to help me explore a subject independently. Furthermore, without a cohort of students in close proximity, you have to be quite single-minded and self-motivated. I came to really value the support of my tutors, which was first class. They responded to my questions very quickly and their comments were usually detailed and thought-provoking. Although distance learning can be a rather lonely experience at times, I actually appreciated the opportunity to interact with the module content at my own pace. In my case, I found that this improved the quality of the questions I asked my tutors, and therefore also our discussions, and overall I suppose, the quality of my learning on the programme.

What is your current job?

I am a lecturer at the School of Engineering at Ehime University in Japan. I develop and teach English for Academic Purposes and English for Engineering Purposes courses.

Did your studies enhance your career?

The short answer is yes. Quite simply, I would not have got my current job had I not done the distance MA at Nottingham. This is not only because one of the requirements for the position was an MA in applied linguistics or ELT, but also because studying distance taught me to be a better, more focused student. As a large part of my job is materials creation, I use the time management skills and the work ethic I developed on the programme on a regular basis. Additionally, the contents of the programme (particularly modules such as Syllabus Design and Methodology, and Vocabulary) have helped to improve the quality of the materials and curricula I design, and I think this will have a positive impact on my career.

Did your studies inspire you?

Again, the short answer is yes. Although distance learning requires a large investment of time and energy, and can at times be exhausting, I found that I was more interested in the field and more motivated to conduct research after the course than I was before it. For me, the dissertation stage helped me to lock in on a specific research area (vocabulary acquisition and teaching). I now enjoy reading articles, having discussions, and attending presentations about this area. Also, I am hoping to start studying for a PhD in this field quite soon. I suppose I feel that my studies empowered me, gave me motivation, and gave me the confidence to join the research community. For me, the distance MA at Nottingham was a really positive learning experience.

Fiona Lake
MA Modern English Language

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Why did you choose our distance learning programme?

The distance learning MA at Nottingham was well-matched to my needs when I applied. I was living abroad and required a good higher qualification to compete in the jobs market. As a mature applicant, I had also been aware for some time that I wanted to study again, to see if I could still do it, and the combination of rigour and flexibility in the Nottingham course appealed to me. The excellent reputation of the University was important. And not least, I applied to the course because I hoped to find out about this thing called discourse, so that I could begin to understand my grown-up children when they told me about their different subjects at university!

What was your experience of studying by distance learning?

I loved studying for the MA. At first I found the many challenges of the course daunting, for example academic reading and writing, but I soon found that I wasn't the only one and that the distance learning administrative staff were there to answer my panicky emails in their calm and endlessly supportive way. Indeed, all the tutors who taught me were accessible experts and it was a privilege to be able to ask advice and receive their comments about assignments, and to be in contact with other distance learners all over the world. Even preparing and writing the dissertation proved to be an exciting experience because I was fortunate to have an excellent supervisor. The summer school is also great fun, a chance to meet teachers and students, and to spend whole days studying.

What is your current job and did your studies enhance your career?

I work as a freelance teacher, copy editor and examiner. The course content informed and helped me in my work a great deal, once I'd adjusted to balancing study, work and home life.

Did your studies inspire you?

The course certainly did inspire me. I was introduced to worlds of ideas and analysis I couldn't have anticipated, because the flexibility of the course meant that I was able to follow a rather unusual combination of modules.  The course taught me about thinking and gave me the confidence to consider research. Now I'm a part-time PhD student in the School.

Jennifer Sanchez-Davies
MA Modern English Language

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Why did you choose our distance learning programme?

This distance learning programme was originally recommended to me at the end of my BA by one of my lecturers at the University of Birmingham as it suited my requirements and interests. I chose the programme for two main reasons. Firstly, the content of the programme was very appealing, with its variety of modules it enables you to specialise and tailor the course according to your interests. Secondly and on a more pragmatic level, studying from home was far more cost efficient and being a part-time course, I was also able to work part-time for a period.

What was your experience of studying by distance learning on our programme?

I thoroughly enjoyed my Masters as it allowed me to build on what I had learnt in my undergraduate degree, it introduced me to new areas of linguistics and most importantly to me, the assignments' rubrics were flexible as they allowed you to take what you had learnt and apply it in your own way. This is one of the reasons why I found the course so inspiring.

All my module tutors were very helpful and encouraging. They each gave good constructive feedback for module exercises, my assignment proposals and my finished assignments. They responded promptly to my emails which, as a distance learner, was very important. I also felt very supported by the distance learning administrative staff, who were always able to answer my queries and provide reassurance when needed.

Lastly, this distance learning programme lets you take full control over how you study and how you manage your time. You certainly need to be devoted to your work and you must be able to motivate yourself to keep to a routine, but what you gain from the modules and the assignments makes it all worth it!

What is your current job?

I am a full-time first year postgraduate researcher and I study cognitive poetics at the University of Nottingham.

Did your studies enhance your career?

I want to pursue an academic career and my studies gave me the qualification to apply for a PhD. In between finishing my Masters (January 2013) and starting my PhD (September 2013), I quickly secured a fixed-term contract at the University of Bath. I think that having a Masters qualification certainly played in my favour during the application process and the interview. This was not just because of the qualification itself, but also because of the transferable skills 'distance learning' represents. It demonstrates that you work well independently, you have a great deal of self-motivation and self-discipline and you can successfully meet deadlines and manage your time.

Did your studies inspire you?

My Masters was, without a doubt, what inspired me to do a PhD. In particular, it was the Cognition and Literature module that sparked my interest and enthusiasm for cognitive poetics. I expanded on my work from the Cognition and Literature module in my dissertation and it was then that I knew I wanted to continue my studies and work towards an academic career.

In summary, I began the Masters with a passion for linguistics, during the programme I expanded my knowledge and explored new areas and lastly, after the Masters I was left with a clear career goal which I have started to pursue.

David-Barker
MA Applied Linguistics and English Language Teaching

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Why did you choose our distance learning programme?

The main reason for me choosing to complete my MA in Linguistics and English Teaching with the University of Nottingham was the fact I could study at home and still be able to work full-time. I felt the course and modules offered related perfectly to my job and would help me gain a deeper understanding of English teaching and further enhance my career.  

What was your experience of studying by distance learning on our programme?

Before starting the course I had no previous experience of distance learning and found the work load extremely difficult. The hardest thing was trying to find a balance between work and study, but after completing the introduction module I understood what was expected of me and managed to organise my time more efficiently. That said I still found it extremely difficult and without the support of the course tutor, I would not have completed the introductory module. 

What is your current job?

I currently work as an English language teacher in a Korean public elementary school. My original plan once I had completed my MA was to apply for teaching positions in Korean universities as an English lecturer but I now plan on completing my PGCE in the next couple of years with the goal of gaining a teaching position at an international school in South Korea.

Did your studies enhance your career?

Completing my studies has certainly opened up more opportunities and pathways but my new chosen pathway requires me to further my studies so completing my MA has inspired me to carry on and further my professional career as a teacher.

Beth Papadopoulou
MA Literary Linguistics

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Why did you choose our distance learning programme?

Why Nottingham's Distance learning programme? After doing some research on the internet Nottingham stood out for several reasons. First and foremost was its excellent reputation for academia. Secondly, the course modules were clearly described and learning goals explained in depth. Furthermore, there were a wide range of subjects within the course to provide variety and maintain both interest and commitment. Last but certainly not least, was the promised support from tutors and their own commitment to the students on the Distance Learning programme.

What was your experience of studying by distance learning on our programme?

Nottingham didn't disappoint. Not only was the learning material expertly set out and explained, but the course tutors were on hand via email to give clarifications and offer support where needed. I also attended three Summer Schools which were so well organized and enjoyable that they reinforced my determination to finish the course, as well as enabling me to make friends with other students on the course from different parts of the world and with whom I still keep in contact even though I have graduated. Meeting the tutors and administration staff allowed us to put faces to the names and made the whole experience of learning both personal and rewarding.

Did your studies enhance your career?

Since graduating, I have used the knowledge I gained to promote the use of English literature in teaching English as a Foreign Language to university students and adults in various professions.

Did your studies inspire you?

They inspired me to write an article on using Science Fiction in EFL teaching, which was later published in a teaching journal and to start my own research into how we listen and interpret what we hear. Before I started the course I wouldn't have had either the courage or knowledge to attempt something like that so I can honestly say that what I gained from studying at Nottingham via Distance Learning was invaluable. I wouldn't have missed it for the world!

Hilary Kirkland
MA English Studies

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Why did you choose our distance learning programme?

I chose Nottingham University because it offered a wide range of courses and the opportunity to study both English Language and Literature. I was impressed by the website which made all the information I needed quickly and easily accessible. The course for the MA in English Studies presented a large number of options so that I was not confined to either Language or Literature but I could choose from either area; a particular interest was the study of Old Norse and Nottingham was one of the few places where I could do this. When I rang to speak to someone at the University about the course, the response was friendly and helpful rather than intimidating, and this encouraged me to make a formal application.

What was your experience of studying by distance learning on our programme?

Without exception, the Distance Learning Modules contained excellent material with thought-provoking exercises and good links to other references. There were ample suggestions for further reading and helpful but testing exercises and assignments. Feedback was prompt and useful, always positive but with clear indications as to how work could have been improved. If I had any problems, and e-mailed for help, I invariably received a speedy, sympathetic and helpful response either from my personal tutor or from the course tutor. Being put in touch with students on the same course meant that I could discuss ideas with others so that distance learning was far from being a lonely experience.

What is your current job?

I was a secondary school teacher for thirty years and am now retired.

Did your studies enhance your career?

My studies did not enhance my career because I had retired before I began the course, but when I returned to teaching part-time I realised that my reading and learning were influencing not only what I was teaching, particularly at A level, but the way I was teaching.

Did your studies inspire you?

I found most of what I studied inspirational in one way or another. Having to look at things I had read many years ago with fresh eyes, as well as looking at material which was completely new to me, inspired me to learn more about some of the topics I had covered, as well as wanting to study some areas in more depth. I read more, and more widely. The confidence I gained from doing the MA has led me to consider doing a PhD.

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School of English

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email: english-enquiries@nottingham.ac.uk