Old College, University of Edinburgh
Photo by flickr user Simon Bradshaw
One of the reasons why I decided to apply to graduate school in the UK is because my field Cultural Studies started here. Another reason is that I wanted to work in Europe and figured the easiest way to do that would be to study here. If you graduate from a British university, you may work in the UK without a work permit for up to two years under the Post Study Work Programme.
After numerous conversations with professors and hours of online research, I decided to apply to four master programmes: Cultural Studies MA at the University of London — Goldsmiths, Media and Cultural Studies MA at Lancaster University, Critical and Cultural Theory MA at Cardiff University, and Cultural Studies MSc at the University of Edinburgh.
I was accepted to all four, but chose to study at the University of Edinburgh due to a number of factors:
1) I was interested in working with the Cultural Studies Programme Director Dr. Ella Chmielewska to explore graffiti, visual culture, memory, and the city (my interests have somewhat evolved since then)…
2) Edinburgh was the only university that offered me a research master’s. I applied for the taught MSc, but was offered the MSc by Research due to the focus and specificity of my research interests. The MSc by Research is more independent and research-driven than the taught MSc. I accepted my offer of admission at Edinburgh with the intent of pursuing the MSc by Research, but I ultimately decided to do the taught MSc because my research interests changed considerably after my accident.
3) Edinburgh offered the most international student scholarships, I was fortunate to receive the International Master’s Scholarship.
4) I emailed current students at all four universities. All of the students seemed happy and satisfied with their programmes, but the students at Edinburgh gave the most honest and convincing answers.
5) While the University of Edinburgh may not be the best university to pursue Cultural Studies, it seemed like the best overall fit. The university has an excellent academic reputation and is located in one of the most beautiful, livable cities in the world. While Edinburgh may not be as bustling and cosmopolitan as London, it is still culturally rich and international. It is also significantly more affordable and seemed like a city I could live in for a long time.
6) My boyfriend Andrew was the final push. The University of Edinburgh was the only school he applied to in the UK. We wanted to stay together and live in the same city, so we both chose to study at Edinburgh.
Overall, I am happy with my choice. There are things about the university I dislike, but no school is perfect. Do as much as research as you can before you apply and commit to a school, but remember any grad programme is what you make of it.