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Which Humanities Masters?!

Discussion in 'Career clinic' started by tomwardell, Jul 26, 2016.


Which Masters?

  1. History

  2. Religious Studies

    0 vote(s)
  3. Other

  1. tomwardell

    tomwardell New commenter


    I'm currently a secondary school teacher. I have a 1st Class Hons degree in Music but have been teaching Humanities since my second year of teaching. I will be teaching a timetable with the majority of Humanities next academic year. This is something I want to develop and further progress down.

    I currently teach A Level Religious Studies and KS3/GCSE History (both of which I have an A Level in). I am interested in pursuing a Masters in one of these Hums subjects for CPD and enhance subject knowledge. My overall aim is to become Head of Hums Faculty.

    I'm interested in seeing which Masters people feel would be more beneficial. I feel more confident and enjoy RS more and would probably do better on it. However, with the squeeze on subject choice and the Ebacc severely affecting things, I feel like the History might be best suited for the future. It would also open up the flexibility for A Level History.

    Or is there something/any courses that might encompass areas of both?!

    Any help would be great!!
  2. DrEmmaKell

    DrEmmaKell New commenter

    I used to be Masters tutor in my school. It's a fabulous step to take, but requires significant extra commitment, so it's important that a) you're entirely passionate about your chosen area and b) it fits in with your existing school priorities and enhances the job you do anyway.

    With many Masters courses, you can tailor your own question, so you may be able to incorporate elements of different Humanities subjects - that said, keeping your focus tight is also a challenge.

    As to specific courses, word of mouth is usually the most powerful way of finding out which would be best.

    On balance, though, having just completed my own further studies, it has enriched every aspect of my professional role and I'd heartily recommend it.
  3. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    tomwardell likes this.
  4. peter12171

    peter12171 Star commenter

    Of the two I'd say History would give you more scope, although of course there is a lot of crossover between the two. In some ways I have a similar background - my degree was joint Music and History and I trained to teach History; since qualifying all my posts have been teaching English (and in my last post I taught RE as well)!
  5. tomwardell

    tomwardell New commenter

    Thanks for your feedback. Very helpful.

    It's definitely something I want to do- I've always wanted to do a PhD or some further qualifications and this seems the next step.

    May I ask whether you've had experience with distance learning courses? Obviously, every course is different, but as a very rough approximation, how much time would you say is spent on a Masters?
  6. tomwardell

    tomwardell New commenter

    Thanks for your input- much appreciated.

    I'm not sure about you but I thoroughly enjoy teaching different subjects! I think in the current climate it's one of the best ways to maintain employment opportunities. I left a permanent Music position (with Science and Geography; neither of which I would say I am confident with) to a Maternity Music cover and have had to sell myself this year and now see humanities as the direction I want to pursue further.
  7. DrEmmaKell

    DrEmmaKell New commenter

    Re. distance learning courses, I know a few people who've done them, and am not sure the difference is enormous - if you do a Masters aimed at practising teachers, your 1:1 contact with academics will be relatively limited (though crucial, when it happens!) - around 1-4 times per term? Some courses do weekend sessions.

    Re time spent, the phrase 'how long is a piece of string?' springs to mind! If I had to hazard an estimate, I'd say 5-6 hours a week on top of your normal job, BUT:

    - If you've chosen your course wisely, some of what you do will be of direct benefit to (and even form a part of) your day-to-day job.

    - There are peak times and times when you can pace yourself. The danger of this is that you leave everything to the holidays (sometimes sadly unavoidable) and, university style (or maybe that's just me) spend more time worrying about it that you do actually doing it, thus letting it put a shadow of your much-needed down-time.

    By learning through my own mistakes, I've learned that a) there are 'bad days' - desperately unproductive and frustrating ones - and unexpectedly great ones when it comes to study - go with the flow and don't give yourself too much of a hard time.

    With a young family, time to study was at a premium (and frequently accompanied with huge guilt) and I found that actually blocking out times in the diary to work really helped us to organise our time productively. Sometimes Sunday mornings worked - sometimes not. I tried not to every devote whole holidays to it, blocking out maybe 2-3 days in a half term.

    Space to work was an issue too, and I frequently found myself retreating to a cafe with WiFi - whatever works for you!

    I actually had a significant I achieved almost nothing on my studies, for various reasons, and universities do understand that Life Happens and can be flexible, to some extent.

    Above all of these practicalities (a bit like the profession itself!), I've found that the main ingredients for success are grit, determination, passion for the subject and realistic expectations (of yourself and the studies) are crucial. Also hugely useful has been to create a network of people doing similar courses. My peers have been an invaluable source of support, and there are bound to be people on the TES forums in similar positions.
    tomwardell likes this.
  8. tomwardell

    tomwardell New commenter

    Thank you so, so much! That's incredibly useful!
  9. peter12171

    peter12171 Star commenter

    Generally I enjoy it. I love learning, which is one if the reasons I went into teaching - hopefully my love will rub off on some students. Of course there are some subjects that don't interest me, so that would be a massive challenge. I'm teaching on supply at the moment so get plenty of opportunity to cover different subjects.

    It does help with career prospects...or I hope it will!
    DrEmmaKell and tomwardell like this.

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