Mark Shearwood, MA War and Strategy student

Mark Shearwood

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

I am a mature student and I re-found my love for academia late in life, only graduating in 2014 with a 2:1 BA in Leadership and Management through my companies work based degree in conjunction with the Anglia Ruskin University. When a chance to take a change of direction arose following an accident and career break, I decided to see if I could turn my 40 years interest in military history into a possible academic career.

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

I spend about six months looking at all the History and Military degrees available within the UK, as well as looking at possible funding for someone of my age returning to full time study. In the end, the University of Leeds was the obvious choice due to both the size of the School of History and the expertise of the academic staff. The school's openness to take someone with a cross disciplinary degree encouraged me to formally submit my application. Although there were a number of MA programmes of interest, I decided to apply for the War and Strategy MA, as I believed this would both allow me to concentrate on the late 17th and early 18th century, which is my particular area of interest, as well as gain a good grounding in the field as a whole. 

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

My particular area of interest is the events from 1685, the Monmouth Rebellion, through to the Glorious Revolution of 1688 to the end of the Great Norther war in 1721. My passion and area of my MA thesis on the English army during the reign of King James II and King William III. This is an area that has generally been overlooked, though the leading historian in this field is Professor John Childs (who was a professor at the University between 1979 and 2009). I am interested in the technological advances of military equipment during this period, and in the effects that religion and specifically changes to the state religion had on armies during this time frame

What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?  

To date, I have enjoyed all the aspects of the course, at the time of writing I have just finished the first semester, and I am looking forward to the start of semester two. The interaction between myself and the academic staff and the other students has surpassed my expectations. 

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

Before starting my MA, I thought I might struggle as a mature student, but this fear was unfounded, the School of History and the University as a whole could not have been more welcoming. The amount of talks, papers and lectures arranged by the school that are open to everyone are a great resource and I have attended as many as I can on subject from the Vikings to the Inquisition in Florence.

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

In short, second to none. There are a number of libraries to use and the Special Collections located with the Brotherton library is a fantastic resource. The University has dedicated study spaces for MA students, which is an area I constantly use.

What do you plan to do now 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 am currently in the process of completing the application to study a Ph.D. at Leeds starting in October 2018, the help and time that the school have given me both in application process and for funding is second to none.