Student profile: Mathew Hagar


Why did you choose to study Philosophy at the University of Liverpool?

As a mature student, my choice to return to education was the result of my experiences in the world. I’m a keen traveller and had spent around five years living and working overseas prior to my time at UoL. During this time, I met a lot of interesting individuals, learned a lot about different cultures and ways of life, and developed an interest in the philosophies and religious traditions of the East. Luckily, the University of Liverpool provides the opportunity to study both Chinese and Indian philosophy as part of the course, an offering that is unique to our institution. Moreover, UoL is home to one of the leading experts in these disciplines, and so I was really excited by the prospects of studying these subjects here.

What do you enjoy most about the course, and why?

I loved having the opportunity to discuss the big questions in metaphysics, morality, consciousness, social equality, and the environment with my peers. Our course features a lot of discussion-based seminars, so it was a great experience to be able to have these conversations with other students in a safe and non-judgemental environment. This also provided a great opportunity to both practice argumentation skills and also learn from the perspectives of others on the course.

Can you tell us about an exciting project you have completed on your course?

As part of my SOTA300 module, I designed, produced, and marketed a series of guided meditation resources for students for the faculty of humanities and social sciences. Throughout the year, I have really enjoyed providing regular in-person meditation sessions and half-day retreat events to help promote positive mental wellbeing among students. As such, I was delighted to have the opportunity to create a resource which reflected these sessions to support the faculty’s student belonging project. At UoL, I was given both the freedom and autonomy to pursue this endeavour fully and also had the chance to use the professional recording facilities within the faculty building to create the content.

What does Liverpool have to offer as a city?

Liverpool is a fantastic city for students. The city is home to a number of museums, galleries, and a vibrant music scene. It has all the benefits of a big city in terms of nightlife, shopping, and hospitality, but it is small enough so that you can get around easily and feel like a local. Plus the cost of living is really low here. This alone, alongside the fact that UoL is a growing and prestigious Russell Group institution, means that students get both world-class education and are able to make the most of their new home.

Can you tell us about the teaching methods/how your learning has been facilitated?

In philosophy, the key to success is both the ability to articulate yourself well, offer reasoned argument in support of a particular position, and be open to the opinions and ideas of others. Each module has both a lecture and seminar component which is great for developing your understanding in the former and collaborating with peers in the latter. I think that this model works really well as there is plenty of time for independent reading, opportunities to supplement your understanding in lectures, and socialise with course mates in seminars.

What extra-or co-curricular activities do you take part in, and how do these affect your student experience?

Extra curriculars were one of the highlights of my university experience. I have acted as a peer mentor for students, course representative for UG philosophy, student ambassador, and meditation facilitator and committee member for our Meditation Society. These positions have empowered me to develop confidence in helping others, amplifying the student voice, taking part in fantastic events, and supporting students in their wellbeing. For anyone new to the university, I would highly recommend getting involved as much as you can. It’s a great way to make connections with students of other disciplines, network with academics, and work closely with university staff. As a mature student, I understand that the skills gained from such activities are invaluable in the world of work, and likely highly beneficial in further study. Plus, they look amazing on your CV!

What are your ambitions for the future and how will your experiences at the University of Liverpool help you in your future career?

I don’t have a specific plan in place. However, I am really interested in personal development, empowering others, and public speaking. My time in extra-curriculars, university events, and course activities has vastly improved my public speaking skills, ability to empathise with others, and confidence in trying new things. I hope to keep developing these skills after graduation and continue to make a positive contribution to the lives of those around me.

If you could go back, what advice would you have given yourself before going to University?

Personally, I really feel as though I have made the most of my time here at UoL. As someone who has returned to education, I appreciate that it is very rare to be in an environment where you are surrounded by people, facilities, and support networks that supplement the pursual of your passions. For those new to the university, I’d advise you to bite the bullet early on and really take advantage of what the institution has to offer, alongside the amazing support offered by staff. In hindsight, I’d probably have put myself out there a bit more in my first year, rather than waiting until year two to really get stuck in.