We asked our graduating third-year what meant most during their time with us. Here’s Emma Heatherley’s response…

After being asked to write a response to this question, I had a hard time trying to actually pinpoint what made Newman such a special experience. Undoubtedly, it was the support that I had received from lecturers and my friends across the last three years.

As prospective students at Newman hear about the university, they first confronted by the words “expect to achieve” that cover the front of the 2016 prospectus, pop up at the end of the advert played in cinemas, and are heard at the end of the radio advert too. The history department at Newman University support individuals in their academic studies and allow them to exceed their expectations, just as promised through the university slogan. 

When first I arrived at Newman, I did not ever expect to achieve the grade that I have done and I believe that without the support of those around me I would not have been able to do so. Within the module courses, there is room to study that you enjoy within those areas and lecturers always have time to sit down with students and enthusiastically discuss ideas that they have. There is open encouragement to question current interpretations and build on our own ideas right from the beginning of the degree and develop skills that are invaluable when beginning independent research for the compulsory 10,000-word dissertation during third year. And when it does come round there is almost complete freedom in researching whatever interests you, dissertations from this year ranged from Alexander the Great, to radical Quakers during the 17th century, and also more recent history.

As previously mentioned it is not just lecturers that provide this support. Because of Newman’s small lecture sizes, everyone helps each other and discussions continue after lecturers are over. It was not uncommon for groups to be started on social networking platforms for each module course: ancient history, the French revolution, and also a generic history group where more general questions could be posed, or results could be posted if someone got to them first!

Trips that almost everyone went on during the summer helped to bring everyone closer together, and allowed people to get to know one another on different years on the whole degree course. This became helpful if you needed help with any work from students who had already done the course, if you were stuck in the library back at home and gave the whole department a community feeling. We were lucky enough to travel to amazing cities, Athens in 2014, Rome in 2015, and Florence in 2016. Lecturers also had the opportunity to get to know the students and vice versa, meaning that by the end of the trip inside jokes were not always just among students.

The history department also provided opportunities to learn periods of history not provided by many other universities locally. As an individual I was mostly drawn to the course at Newman because of the opportunity to study ancient history, which was uncommon with other universities that I was looking at as a student who was living at home. And other modules including a work experience element that introduces history students to careers that they may not have considered when they began university, with the universities connections to local heritage sites and libraries it is an opportunity that is invaluable when setting future career goals.

As a result of all of this students are not ‘just a number’ or ‘lost in the system’, and lecturers know your goals, and what it is that interests you personally in order to make your time at Newman more personal, and ultimately more rewarding.
Emma Heatherley

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