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Jo Gardner, Postgraduate Student

Why did you choose to study MRes in Gender Studies with us?

I have always wanted to pursue a PhD as I am passionate about academic research and writing. As I had spent several years away from academia developing my professional skills in television development, I thought the MRes route (which for me was essentially a PhD in miniature) would be a wonderful way to return to academia and prepare for PhD study.

I wanted to expand my research skills, refresh my knowledge of methodology and methods, and assess where I was at in terms of my academic writing skills and style. I was also clear that I wanted to continue exploring and expanding my research focus which foregrounds the representation of women and feminist sensibilities on television. The MRes in Gender Studies at University of Chester sounded like the perfect fit for me because it encouraged an interdisciplinary approach to academic study, and I felt it would allow me to develop my research skills and confidence in a progressive, inclusive environment.

How are you supported as a postgraduate student?

The staff I engaged with at Chester were all incredibly friendly and helpful. I found the seminars that were led by visiting lecturers particularly inspiring. I was very lucky to receive incredible support and encouragement from my PAT and I was also given some very generous advice and support in the form of a consultant supervisor for my MRes dissertation (from the sociology department at Chester).

The 2018/19 MRes student cohort at the IGS were also a brilliant and supportive group. We became a great team who supported each other through deadlines and presentations. I gained great confidence from being part of such a compassionate and encouraging group of fellow post-graduate students.

The postgraduate support offered by the University of Chester is excellent. As part of my PhD, I have access to software for organising my academic references and I will be undergoing research software training that will provide me with tools and skills to organise and code my qualitative data results.

What clubs, societies or other activities beyond your course did you take part in?

I have not taken part in any official societies. However, I attend an online writing group for post graduate humanities students called ‘write club’. A weekly online session using the Pomodoro technique allows PhD students to write for focused periods of time in a cohort environment and enjoy five-minute chats in between. This helps combat the solitary nature of a PhD by providing a real sense of a research community.

While studying for my MRes, in 2019, I was fortunate to present at the Talking Bodies Conference. It was a privilege to attend and present at the esteemed, international gender studies conference held at University of Chester. I felt so lucky to have all these amazing speakers coming to the university I am currently studying at. The conference also enabled me to form connections with academics of all different levels, from all over the world.

How did you organise your postgraduate study alongside your friends and family, work and any other existing commitments you may have had?

The MRes was a full time one-year course that was busy and challenging. However, because I was researching independently, I was generally able to organise my own schedule.

It is important to be self-motivated when it comes to postgraduate research degrees. I find having specific study days and times allows me to focus intensely for designated periods of time while also giving me free time to spend with my family and engage in hobbies.

There is no “correct” way to approach post graduate study, it is about trying different methods and schedules until you find something that works for you and your lifestyle.

There is absolutely time for family or a part-time job alongside postgraduate study, but I also remind myself regularly that postgraduate study is a huge privilege and something I really want to do, so sometimes it must take precedent and I have to make sacrifices – after all it doesn’t last forever so I want to make the most of it.

How has your postgraduate degree help you with your career goals?

The skills and networks I developed during my MRes at Chester unquestionably gave me the ability to go forward and pursue a PhD.

Right now, I am not sure what I want to do post-PhD. I am interested in looking at academic opportunities such as post-docs and fellowships. But equally, with the rise in awareness of gender and social justice issues in the public and private sector, there are so many opportunities outside of academia for me to pursue a successful career and make a difference using my post-graduate qualifications in gender studies.


If you'd like to find out more about our MRes in Gender Studies take a look at our course page. You can also visit us to find out all about postgraduate study, we're holding a number of Open Days in June.

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