Amy Mcsweeney

History: Twentieth-Century History MA


Why did you choose a master’s at the University of Liverpool?

It was very important to me when choosing where to pursue master’s study that I would have the freedom to research my chosen subject area. Whilst the Twentieth-Century History pathway offers a wide understanding of the themes and events of the century, the emphasis on individual development is clear from the beginning. Additionally, a number of members of staff at Liverpool concentrate their research on post-war social and cultural changes, which I knew I wanted to pursue.


What’s the best thing about studying in your department?

Firstly, the department is well run, which means that you don’t have to worry about the little things and can concentrate on your coursework. I really like that you’re able to choose different pathways, because the narrower concentration on one part of history allows your tutors to tailor seminars to individual research interests. Also, if everyone on your course is studying similar themes or time frames, you’re better able to support and help each other.


How do the facilities in the University help you with your studies?

I really like the library facilities in particular. Most books are available online, and the library has a really good selection of primary sources, which is especially helpful for a historian. It’s also open 24 hours, which is great when you need to power through essays. 


What kind of support do you get from staff?

Postgraduate level study really means that tutors are better able to help you with your studies, and the smaller number of students allows them to know not only who you are, but what you’re studying etc. I’ve found tutors really helpful and support is readily available. Despite studying for my undergraduate degree elsewhere, I’ve found Liverpool a really easy environment to adapt to, and this is largely due to the ease of getting to know people within the department.


What do you enjoy most about the whole experience?

My favourite thing about master’s study is that you’re better placed to pursue original research. History at undergraduate level requires that you learn about what happened to whom when, whilst postgraduate studies give you the skills to ask your own questions, not just learn the answers to other people’s. The History Department at Liverpool gives you the freedom to do your own work, but can provide support when you need it.


How do you believe undertaking a master’s will help your career prospects?

I think that a master’s degree can not only give you the skills to pursue further study, but is also a real advantage in the job market. Given the amount of independent work you complete at this level of study, you’re able to demonstrate the ability to think and to work to your own deadlines and goals. 


What advice would you give to anybody considering master’s study?

Although you can be tempted to choose a course based on staff members research interests with your dissertation in mind, it’s also important to look in to the other modules you’ll be expected to complete or can choose. This gives you a really good idea of what you’ll spend the first half of your programme doing, and is as important as your dissertation. Mostly, I’d just say that although it is hard work, your master’s degree will combine the best parts of undergraduate study with new challenges to meet.


Find out more about the History: Twentieth-Century History MA