Blog post

Studying flexibly as a postgraduate student

By Ruth Gray - 5 December 2018

Returning to University

In 2009 I returned to university to complete my degree in International Fashion Business. I felt nervous as I was about twenty years older than most of the students in my class and had a three-year-old and six-month-old baby at home. I held a HND qualification and my aim was to become a teacher, but in order to achieve this goal I needed to top up my HND, so enrolled onto the one year intensive International Fashion and Business degree which was offered to those with a current HND.

I enjoyed my studies immensely, but it was extremely difficult and also very hard on my partner who worked weekends to support the funding towards my studies. I gained a 1st class honours that I am very proud of, however after I graduated I took the time to concentrate on my family and became a self-employed artist.

Returning to University Part 2

Over the last decade, I’ve combined looking after my children with selling my artwork and running an artist’s consultancy business. In the back of my mind though, I’d always planned to return to education when the children were older and more independent, and this year I have made that decision.

My work as an artist has led me to exhibit in many local art galleries, museums and run workshops within the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site and I have found myself increasingly drawn to finding out more about the heritage industry and how I can further my career within it.

The MA Public History and Heritage course sounded perfect for me especially as I learned could do it part-time over two years. Part-time means I attend the University one day a week and study at home or in the University library.

A typical week as a postgrad student

A typical week for me now is:

Obviously, this is all in between the school run and the many appointments and visits to teachers, dentists, doctors etc. that comes with being a parent. A self-employment lifestyle has helped me enormously as I am used to working under my own directive and this is a very important part of being a masters student; having the ability to self-manage time and forward plan.

Future focus

My main aim when I complete my MA is to find work that compliments my skills, I am typical of a parent who has had to compromise on career choices due to family circumstances and I often find I lack confidence when comparing myself to those who have not had to swap and change career paths. So, my main goal is to take all the opportunities on offer at the University of Derby and embrace where they take me.

About the author

Ruth Gray
MA Public History and Heritage student

Ruth Gray is a Derbyshire Artist working in Acrylics and Acrylic Inks. She is an Art Demonstrator and is currently studying an MA in Public History and Heritage at the University of Derby and works within the World Heritage Site of Derwent Valley Mills. Her paintings depict this wonderful area. she regularly runs art groups, workshops, and stalls for herself and others within the region.