Christos Mouis, History MA
Christos explains why he chose to stay at Nottingham to do a masters, and how he's been supported to follow his interests...
What made you want to do the History MA?
"I did a joint honours, Ancient History and History, at Nottingham for my undergraduate degree. During my last year, I got to explore topics that were of interest to me, that were quite unique. I was doing things related to football and to Cyprus, which is where I’m from.
I did my undergraduate dissertation on Greek Cypriot refugees. My dad is Greek Cypriot, so the chance to explore something very personal to me was really exciting. David Laven, who was my dissertation supervisor last year, did encourage me to do history that I find interesting but may be a bit 'out there'. I have continued this trend this year by engaging with histories related to Italy, which is where my mother’s side of the family is from!"
I was just so happy with my experience here and the support around me with the teachers and wider support from the university. I thought this environment has been so positive that I just want to stay.
What’s been your favourite module?
"It was called ‘Past Futures: Reimagining the Twentieth Century’. It looked at the way time works to dictate our understandings of history and how time shapes the way we view things and the interconnectedness between the past, present and future.
As someone who is quite interested in topics like World War Two and things that are so culturally relevant today – so issues like Brexit and Coronavirus – you think about how time has shaped how those issues are both articulated and received by the public. It was an interesting thing to explore."
I remember this quote – a teacher said it once – people say that historians look to the past, but actually they are working forwards. You’re looking at the past yes, but going forward to get to where you are today.
What are the main skills you’ve gained?
"Without a doubt the biggest skill I’ve learnt is time management. At MA level, you require different methods of thinking, different skill sets and areas of focus. So having a day where I have to dedicate time to X, Y, Z is the hardest thing I’ve had to do.
The biggest difference I’ve noticed with the MA has been the interdisciplinary feel. You’re having to engage with not just the information, but the theory that goes behind it and the different approaches – whether from a sociological, political, historical or psychological perspective. It’s learning where history fits within a broader understanding."
What are you doing your dissertation on?
"It’s going to be on Arsenal football club! It’s about the changing nature of fandom in a social media era and how we interact with games. I’ve grown up loving football, but over time there’s been a different social interaction with it. Especially in the social media age, it adds another dimension to supporting a team.
This was a massive reason why I wanted to stay at Nottingham. One of the biggest lessons I have learnt is that there are so many topics that are worthy of academic attention."
The interdisciplinary side of the MA gives you the freedom to explore topics that aren’t stereotypically ‘history’ and engage with them from a historical perspective.
Any staff shout outs?
"There’s Joe Merton who was my personal tutor in first and second year at undergraduate level. I joined university in my early twenties, and Joe was incredibly helpful in providing me with that framework for understanding the difference between being a historian at school level and undergraduate level.
Also my second personal tutor, in my third year, Julia Merritt. She was absolutely amazing from day one. The support she gave me contributed massively to my success. She was the person who said I should think about doing an MA.
Then there's David Laven. He’s been really helpful when I have a topic that I’m interested in which is not stereotypically history. His interest for everything makes him so easy to talk to! He will work with you and give his feedback and genuinely engage with you. It’s the personal element as well, it’s someone I know I can go and speak to when things aren’t going great. The staff really care about their students."
What are your career plans?
"Before university, I was working at my dad’s stonemasonry company. At the time I definitely wasn’t in the right place. Confidence wise I struggled a bit to fit in. When I came to do my degree, I wasn’t sure where I was going to go after.
Recently I’ve got the opportunity again to go back into the family business. It’s funny, as it sounds like I’m going back to where I started, but not at all. The history programme has changed me completely as a person.
The tutors have encouraged us to be who we are and encouraged our ideas and learning to develop ourselves. I feel a lot more confident.
As someone who was in the world of work a bit prior to coming to university, one thing I have observed is that your skill set is more important than the title of your degree. The personal development that I’ve had throughout my time at Nottingham has given me the confidence to go into the workplace and take it on."
What does ‘success’ look like to you?
"Having balance in life. The university did help me with that. Sometimes when I felt a bit too pressurised, those brilliant teachers who I mentioned conveyed to me that you also need to enjoy this process. It’s learning to have a balance, where you love what you do."
Any top tips for people considering this course?
"Firstly I’d say go for it! It’s definitely provided new challenges for me. A lot of the modules are co-taught, so you get a broader learning. You’ll definitely find something that fits your interests and maybe be able to engage with other disciplines in a way that you didn’t at undergraduate level."
My advice would be don’t be discouraged from doing things that interest you. Most topics have some sort of need for academic engagement. Do what you enjoy and everything else will fall into place after that.