- Course: MA Society, Culture and Media
- Year of graduation: 2022
- Nationality: British
Please tell us a bit about yourself, where you are from, your background etc?
I am from Bradford, West Yorkshire and I studied A levels in Art and Design, English Literature and Geography. In 2020, I completed my undergraduate degree in BA (Hons) Fine Art at the University of Lincoln. Throughout this degree, I gained knowledge and developed practical skills in digital art-making and I became really interested in media, celebrity and internet culture. As part of my fine art degree show work, I wrote and recorded a pop song which followed a generic pop song structure. I then decoded this work using editing techniques such as reversing sections of the song and reducing its pitch and tempo. This audio was accompanied by visuals of Instagram live performances of the song which resembled archival footage of an old live performance. This work aimed to interrogate internet or ‘content’ culture and questioned the significance of the individual’s contribution to a society where media content can be produced, circulated and consumed by anyone with the appropriate technology.
What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?
During my undergraduate degree, I really enjoyed ‘placing myself’ within internet and celebrity culture through digital media and performance. From this, I wanted to develop my knowledge about how digital technologies such as social media allow non-celebrities to place themselves within the public eye and gain online popularity (these ideas are explored by Theresa M. Senft and Alice E. Marwick). With this fascination, however, came a policy concern that I wanted to investigate: what protections are in place for individuals who expose themselves and their lives online? This topic now informs my Masters dissertation, entitled How is the “online abuse of public figures” understood, negotiated and experienced by British YouTubers aged 18-25? The MA Society, Culture and Media course has therefore met my expectations and allowed me explore an area of personal interest.
What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study? And what is your greatest academic achievement?
I really enjoy ‘noticing’ the role of the media in our everyday lives. I also find it interesting to think about how ‘ordinary people’ might participate in the media, as platforms such as reality TV and social media allow us to contribute ourselves as entertainment or ‘content’. As part of my Masters course, I took the optional module entitled Reality TV: Truth or Fiction?, which allowed me to think further about how people are (de)constructed by the reality television industry. This module was assessed by an essay, which I wrote about the British reality TV show 10 Years Younger, focusing on how the show’s producers, voiceovers and experts place blame on participants for ‘failing’ to regulate their appearances. I received an outstanding grade for this work and was encouraged by my lecturers to rework this essay (so as to further explore ideas that were limited by the assessment’s word count) and put it forward for academic publishing!
I am really proud of this achievement and thankful to my lecturers for their continued help and guidance with this process. I have also spoken to one my lecturers about collaborating on academic articles which is a fantastic opportunity to continue my professional development and engage with academia. I am interested in proposing my own PhD in the future and so these opportunities are invaluable to developing my academic knowledge and experience.
What do you think of your course so far – what aspects of the course have you enjoyed the most or are looking forward to the most?
I think MA Society, Culture and Media is a fantastic course because it has allowed me to develop an expertise in a topic area that I am interested in. As much as I have focused on celebrity, media and internet culture, this course permits many different research routes in society, culture and media.
What would you say about the learning facilities at the University of Leeds?
I have undertaken most of my Masters degree online. I have found online teaching and learning at the University of Leeds to be consistent and organised, and I feel that University lecturers have assisted me in adapting to this way of learning. When restrictions permitted, there was an opportunity to enter campus a few times for a seminar (this was optional). I did attend some face-to-face seminars and found them to be interesting and engaging. In my experience, I have also found that staff from other departments at the University such as the University Library, Careers department and Leeds Doctoral College have always been happy to help me with any queries I may have.
How would you describe the student support and community at Leeds? Have you taken part in any co-curricular or social events you would like to mention?
Even though this course has been delivered (mostly) online, I made friends on my course via online communication and have since met people in person. I have found the student support and community at Leeds to be encouraging and welcoming. In my experience, course representatives are always helpful and welcome any feedback or queries I may have.
What do you think about Leeds as a city?
I have lived close to Leeds all of my life and often visit the city for shopping trips with my family and friends. I think Leeds is a great city for shopping, food, entertainment and arts and heritage.
What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?
I have found that there are many opportunities to tailor this course to your interests. This can be done by choosing an optional module, and by responding to assignments that are part of compulsory modules with original ideas. I would also reiterate that lecturers are always happy to help with any question/query you may have and so if you feel stuck or just have a question of interest, then do not be afraid to ask it!
What do you plan to do once you’ve finished your course? What are you career aspirations?
This course has allowed me to explore my interest in how a personal, everyday experience is represented by authorities within policy. In my career, I wish to incorporate these skills and continue to understand the individual’s experience within an institution. I am passionate about Higher Education (HE) and wish to use my own knowledge and understanding of studying at University to help provide others with a positive experience. I am currently applying for policy and student engagement roles in HE.
I am also interested in proposing my own PhD about the role of reality TV and social media in producing influential/celebrity figures.
Any other comment you would like to make?
I have really enjoyed my time at the University of Leeds and would love to study a PhD here in the future! I have made great connections with University lecturers and students on my course and have learnt so much about society, media and culture that will translate into future careers and further study.