Second Year Reflections

So, you’ve heard from one of our first years about their experiences in 2015/16. Here are Scarlett Hall’s thoughts on second year!


During my second year I felt a lot more confident in what the tutors and assignments themselves expected of me (students are supported in their first year to understand the expectations) and thankfully this has been reflected in my marks. The hardest part of the second year of this course for me, however, was the introduction of three different lecturers that we hadn’t really had before. These included Dr Noelle Plack,  Dr Emma Folwell and Dr Charlotte Lewandowski. These lecturers brought with them new historical content ranging from modern European, American and medieval history. Emma and Charlotte, who came to us in the second semester, were as new to Newman as we were to them and brought an endless amount of enthusiasm.


Emma and Charlotte’s approach to conducting seminars was a little different. Each week, the seminar was divided into in groups with each person reading a certain text. In addition to this, in the first semester we were introduced to an entirely new form of assignment, a book review. This assignment focused on getting us to engage fully with both argument and historiography and its construction which we had to judge. However we were given guidance and the opportunity to state that we feel it would have been more benefited to do one in the first year at an SSCC {Staff Student Consultation Committee} meeting and it now currently is used as a form of assignment in the first year. The reason we were introduced to the book review at this stage is because it was expanded on in another module in the second semester with a literature review on an even broader range of topics forcing on more than one text. The topics ranged from Cholera, wine drinking in France, the Crusades, the American war on poverty, the fall of the Roman Empire and early modern witchcraft. I chose the Crusades as it was something I had never done before. In this we looked at the topic from a political, art history and anthropological interpretations. The reason I chose the crusades is the same reason I chose other optional modules in the second year such as Gender and Sexuality in the Ancient World and Late Medieval England.


The study of history also evolves in the second year to become more theoretical. For example, the medieval module was full of concepts of power and identity, as was the module with regard to the literature review that I did on the Crusades. Assignments also required you to encage much more credibly with historiography. A module is even delivered on theory and method in history in which the group I was with did a presentation on gender history. The focus on theory made me lazy in the sure in search for history detail but I have become a much more effective and quicker (very important) reader.


I also continued my role as a course representative which is a voluntary role were you attend meetings held twice a year and bring up concerns or issues with the course directly to the lecturers and relevant staff. Because of the changes to the history department the second meeting was interesting. But with history it was manly issues with the numbers of books or clarification of assignment.


Towards the end of the second year because I wanted to give back to student support who have support me with essay writing and Autism support, more important and invaluable to me this year, and because of the financial reward and opportunity to place the experience on my CV I took part in a Staff Student Partnership Project about the retention rates of students with one or more disability or health issues which resulted in a report. Because it was towards the end of the year I was able to comfortably fit this and student ambassador shifts around my studies and earn money while not working. I feel this has benefited me timewise. The most intense part of the second year when we were asked to start thinking about our dissertation. Because of the conceptual ideas introduced to me in the medieval module I choose to undertake mine on medieval ideas of Anglo-Saxon Kingship and am currently researching this and am in contact with my dissertation supervisor, Charlotte. This may seem like a lot to do in six months but at the end in June the opportunity came to go to Florence with the University and myself and my friends enjoyed this time immensely and then came back to continue reading for our dissertations.


Scarlett Hall


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