Catherine Clarke, MA English Literature student

Catherine Clarke

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in rural County Durham and went to school in North Yorkshire (Teesside). I completed my undergraduate degree in English Literature at the University of Birmingham.

What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?

Growing up 1.5 hours northeast of Leeds, I had visited the city on several occasions and enjoyed its vibrant nightlife and seemingly endless array of shops. I knew the university had a great reputation, ranking tenth in the Times and achieving ‘University of the Year 2017’. One of my English professors at Birmingham also encouraged me to apply to Leeds because of the impressive Brotherton Library and special collections.

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?

I can’t remember a time I didn’t love reading, but my interest in Romanticism specifically goes back to 2006 when I first saw the film, Marie Antoinette. Studying literature is so stimulating because texts are always linked to their broader historical, political and social contexts.

How do you think postgraduate study differs from undergraduate study?

Postgraduate classes are made up of smaller groups and more intense study. Everyone contributes in a postgraduate seminar and many (like me) specialise in a pathway, so, are able to focus on the specific period they love.

What aspects of the course do you enjoy the most?  

The seminars are invaluable, unintimidating and intellectually invigorating. 

What would you say about Leeds as a city?

Leeds, for me, is the best city in the UK. It is larger and has more going on than cities like Newcastle (but still retains that Northern ambience and friendliness).

What has been the most surprising thing about coming to Leeds?

I was most surprised by the social side of my course. Before arriving, I was nervous that, due to my limited contact hours, I would struggle to make friends. However, as soon as my course started we were appointed social secretaries who have since organised countless meetups. 

What would you say about the learning facilities in your School and at the University in general?

Seminars are all about thought-provoking discussion and the libraries have (or can order) any book you want. Because there are four libraries you can always find a study space.

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?

I feel my confidence, not only when it comes to speaking in front of people, but also in my academic ability, has grown exponentially since coming to Leeds. If you feel you are still itching to learn more about a subject area, developing this interest into further study is a brilliant and fulfilling option. 

What do you plan to do once you’ve finished your course, and how do you think the skills and knowledge you’ve developed at Leeds will help with these plans?

I eventually plan to pursue a PhD, my MA will be essential for progressing to this next level.