Meet our students

American Studies

Choosing Derby

I chose to study American Studies at University at Derby because of the broad range of topics you cover as part of the course. These include Politics, History, Literature, Cinema and means that there is something for everyone, and may even introduce you to topics you have never considered studying before. The Lecturers for the course are also published experts in their particular fields and very enthusiastic about their subjects, so you definitely know that you are learning from the best!

The American Exchange programme

I wanted to go to America as part of the Study Abroad exchange programme for the experience of being in a nation and culture so similar, yet so different, from that of the UK. I hoped that the experience would give me new insight into both our cultures and help me further understand America and its place in the world.  I also wanted to experience life as a student at an American University to see if the experience was as exciting as I’d heard it could be!

Whilst on the Study Abroad programme, I studied hard at my new University but also found the time to travel, both during term time and during the summer. I visited places like Washington D.C. and New York City; which were amazing! I also spent a great deal of time with the American students at the University, most of whom have now become lifelong friends. My roommate in particular has practically become extended family now! I absolutely loved my time aboard and would recommend it to anyone who wants to challenge themselves; don’t be afraid and just go for it!

Benefits of studying abroad

I would definitely say that my time abroad was life-changing for me, with effectively being ‘on my own’ from the minute I stepped on the plane. Although my U.S host university and University of Derby were very supportive throughout the whole process, being away from my natural support network in the UK taught me how to overcome challenges both as an individual and as an adult. As a result, I have become much more confident as a person, with more faith in my abilities and not afraid to try new things. I believe that the experience will help my future career as whilst I was in the U.S. it was necessary for me to grow as person, to adapt to a foreign environment and consider different perspectives on things that I had never examined before.

Key Highs

My key highs from studying at University of Derby so far of course include the Study Abroad experience but also the many things I’ve experienced whilst at Derby itself. Being taught by a smaller department has been very enjoyable as both a student and person, as you benefit from a close-knit learning environment, and also get the opportunity to develop relationships with everyone on your course, and the Lecturers themselves who are always willing to help however they can.

Creative Writing

Choosing Derby

I chose to do a degree in Creative Writing at Derby because my passion was writing and as Derby offered the best Creative Writing degree I could find, I decided to follow my dream of being a writer.

My highlights

One of my biggest highlights was creating my own radio show, Verbal Discharge, which won best student radio show of the year two years running. I also presented the annual University of Derby Students Union awards with my radio show.

I really enjoyed being part of a new Derby arts movement, including an open mic poetry night entitled Twisted Tongues and several other events.  I always felt free to pursue the medium of my choosing with my writing and benefitted from having inspirational and published authors for lecturers who know what they're talking about. The course also gave me the opportunity to interview Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party in England and Wales.

Supportive staff

The staff have supported us in our professional and personal development. They've brought to light several errors in my work that I would never have found myself. They have also allowed us freedom to express ourselves through tutorials in which we could negotiate several factors of our work, such as word count and format.

My career plans 

I would now like to become a Creative Professional working for a large publishing company. The degree has already helped my career progression by securing interviews with several creative companies. It has also given me superb social skills and a multitude of transferable skills.

English

Choosing Derby

I came to the University of Derby as a mature student, a mother of two and having resigned from a full time career. Having not studied for ten years - I wondered if Derby would be able to accommodate me and my needs, and more importantly, help to actually fulfil my aspirations - which were on a tight budget and even tighter time schedule!

Turning my passion into a career

I wanted to do a degree which would turn my lifelong passion for English Literature into a career. The university has given me the opportunity to explore the careers available in this field and to network with key people and institutions. My degree has also furnished me with a massively diverse skill set, which, I have now realised can be applied in a variety of vocations.

The degree programme itself is an excellent example of what undergraduate study should be. It helps you to learn the power of language and it is so much more than just literature; its philosophy, anthropology, psychology, history, sociology.

A Supportive Network

The lecturers are experts in their field; it is like having a ‘real life’ source at your finger- tips, yet, they remain approachable. The debates in seminars are intellectually stimulating and challenging and the lecturers help you to understand your potential, which is exactly what you need at university level.

Extra Opportunities

I have taken advantage of many opportunities at university, such as becoming the editor of the university student magazine, and I have also formed the Literary Society for students. I have taken skills from these roles which have helped me on many levels, for example communication and organisation, which I have finely tuned whilst undertaking these positions.

Recommendation

The University of Derby is a place in which your potential has the opportunity, capacity and facilities to flourish. It has been a life changing experience.

Coming here has been like realising there is a whole new world out there. I have, of course, developed intellectually by doing my degree but more importantly, I have developed as a person.

Choosing Derby

I wanted to do something different, that would challenge me, that I would enjoy, and that would take my career in a different direction. I chose to do an English degree at Derby because I have always enjoyed reading, the course looked stimulating and I found the university campus welcoming. It was definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made.

An inspiring study experience

I can honestly say I have enjoyed every lecture I have attended over the course of my degree. I have been introduced to such a wide range of literature, from Greek mythology to existentialism; we have covered a fascinating variety of topics.

Before coming to university, I was interested in nineteenth-century literature, and had always enjoyed Shakespeare. Whilst I have been able to significantly develop my interests in these areas, I have also studied sixteenth-century writing, the Romantic poets, modernist and postmodernist literature, along with crime writing, and much more. Whilst I have learnt such a lot at the University of Derby, I have also been enlightened as to how much more there is to study in this field, and now feel equipped and inspired, to continue at a more advanced level.

A supportive network

The lecturers are all approachable and very supportive. They always make time to discuss my studies and future plans with me, no matter what time of the week. I have even had email replies from them on a Sunday afternoon!

They are genuinely interested in the success of their students. In seminars, we have always been encouraged to express our own points of view and develop our own interests. This has helped me to significantly develop my self-confidence, and I have only the patience and assistance of the lecturers to thank for that. They are excellent role models and I can’t thank them enough for their consistent guidance and friendly advice.

Equipping with the essential skills

The degree course has provided me with many options once I graduate. I have developed an interest in research skills and undertook a voluntary research project with Derby museums, at the Joseph Wright gallery. This role was available to both History and English students at the university. I made many connections with the excellent staff at Derby museums, and considerably improved my independent research abilities as a result of the project.

Furthermore, this role gave me the skills and the confidence I needed to apply for a paid research internship at the University of Derby, which was open to all second-year undergraduates. Internships at the University of Derby are advertised each year, and are an excellent way of gaining work experience and developing relationships with professionals. I have continued to work as a research assistant after completing the internship, and have been given the option to carry on in this role when I finish my degree.

Recommendation

The University of Derby has certainly fostered in me a life-long love of literature. I have made some great friends during my time here, some of which I hope to be close to for many years.

I cannot recommend the English degree at Derby highly enough. The course is excellent, and yet it is still being extended and improved further. This shows the dedication of the staff and their interest in the students. My time at Derby has been a very positive experience and I hope many more will go on to find it so.

History

Choosing History at Derby

At first I had no idea what I wanted to do after I left school. Most of my friends were going to university, and even after the fee increase, I felt it was the right choice for me too.

I had always been more academic, so with my interest in history and knowledge that it was a course that featured widely used skills, I applied. This has been proved throughout the course so far and now I’m completely set on what I want to do after university.

A rewarding course

The History course itself has been hugely varied. The first year, while going relatively in-depth into a variety of strong historical subjects, really covered the skills needed as a historian. However what was important for me was that the lecturers immediately start focussing on your job prospects, right from the beginning of the course. This was vital for me because I do not want to become a historian necessarily, so the lecturers make sure I knew that the skills and experiences we gain throughout the course are extremely applicable in many different areas of life and career options.

In the second year the workload really stepped up, and I enjoyed this change. This is expressed largely through the research paper which allows you to quite literally study any area of history you want to, and also through the public history conference we conducted as a group.

For me these have been the most interesting parts (so far). They really show what else history has to offer, and the different mediums this can be expressed through.

My future career plans

It’s fair to say in my case that the university has definitely helped me solidify my future prospects. I’m now looking at careers in international aid and development. To get to this point it has been quite a journey, all of which the university has helped me through.

As mentioned, I started out not knowing what I wanted to do after I graduated. I began having career mentor sessions, readily available through the careers and employment service in the library, to look further into how I could break into this difficult career path. History may not be directly related, but the wide skills I gained on the course are enabling me to try and achieve it anyway.

I’m now happily pursuing this career. It isn’t an easy one by any means to follow and it’s hard to do being based in the UK. However I’m doing as much volunteering as I can to gain experience in the aid sector. Again, the university has helped me in these areas, providing many opportunities with the International Student Centre.

The best thing about studying History at Derby

It is hard to pick a highlight because I’ve enjoyed every minute of my three years at university. I would say that the Public History Conference at the end of the second year is up there though. We were all able to present a piece of work that we had put a lot of time and effort into in front of an audience and the whole experience was very rewarding. We were able to do something similar with our final year Independent Studies and that was just as good.

Supportive lecturers

The support I received from the lecturing staff was second to none. I was able to contact anyone on the teaching team at almost any time, they were always there to talk with you be it academic or personal. I made regular appearances at their offices to ask questions about my work.

You are assigned a personal tutor who is usually your first port of call however it’s made clear that they are all there for you. Having spoken to friends who have studied at other universities it’s not something I took for granted.

Real-world experience

I was the assistant regional editor for the History West Midlands magazine working with Derby’s Professor Paul Elliott. I co-wrote a couple of articles with him and then also my own one about First World War remembrance in Derbyshire. These were all featured on the magazine's web site. The highlight of my time as assistant regional editor was covering the opening of the Joseph Wright exhibition at Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

My music

Alongside studying for my degree I have also been heavily involved with my band ‘Counting Days’. At the end of last year we were given the chance to sign a record contract with a large European label that have mainly focussed on blues music but are looking to step into the metal market, which is what we play.

They were understanding enough to let me finish my degree before asking much of us but as soon as I had finished we travelled out of Sweden for four weeks to record an album and we have also been playing some shows in various places.

Our album will come out towards the end of the year with a handful of singles and music videos leading up to it. It doesn’t necessarily have to conflict with my academic ambitions, as Dr Larsen reminded me: Brian May studied for his PhD while touring with Queen!

My next step

I have several potential paths to pursue. Academically I would love to study further and complete a PhD one day. I would also like to get my Independent Study turned into a journal article and these are both things that the history teaching team are helping me with.

Long-term career wise I would like to work in a museum. While at the University of Derby I was given opportunities to volunteer at the local museum which opened my eyes to this and gave me great experience. I am also going to carry on playing music and see where I can go with that.

The best thing about studying History at Derby

One main reasons I chose History at Derby was because of the modules available. I love modern history and that is exactly what Derby specialises in, so it was a perfect fit for me. From studying here, I have also found that Derby's History course offers many free trips as part of the course, which is fantastic as learning takes place in a variety of settings, not just lecture theatres. We have been to Manchester, London and various different country houses and museums to name a few. On top of this, my A-levels showed me that exams are perhaps not for me, so the fact that the course is assessed entirely through coursework sounded great!

As soon as I entered the university at an open day, I felt comfortable and at ease, so already Derby was at the top of my list. But after speaking to the lecturer’s and hearing their passion for History, I made up my mind that Derby was the university for me – and since studying here, I have found that the lecturer’s truly get to know every single student, so that everyone feels involved and included.

As well as this, the History society sounded so fun and far more engaging than other History societies I had heard about at other universities, and it definitely has been an amazing experience being a part of the society. They host a whole range of events for students to get involved in, from pub quizzes to film nights to themed parties, such as the 1920s ball. 

Amazing lecturers

To put it simply, my lecturers are amazing. They always respond to emails so quickly and are always happy to have one-to-one tutorials to go through essay plans or to help you find sources for your work. They constantly go out of their way to help us and to make sure we succeed, not only in our academic work, but in our general time at university also. Moreover, they notify us of events happening at the university, such as careers events or trips, so they truly do look out for us. They are so passionate and knowledgeable. When they’re discussing the subject, you really can see their enthusiasm and experience in teaching and practising History.

Engaging modules 

So far, I have loved every module that I have studied. The modules are always interesting as there is a range of assessments, from essays to presentations and from group work to weekly diaries; so although it is assessed entirely through coursework, this is in a variety of formats which keeps it interesting and challenging. Another reason I have enjoyed the modules is because the lectures are always interactive, they are never just the lecturer talking at you for hours – they constantly ask questions and get us to discuss ideas which makes the learning far more interesting.

In addition, each module covers a broad range of history, so whilst everyone is studying the same module, the amount of possible essay questions is endless. You can choose to specialise in cultural history whilst someone else could specialise in economic or political history – the variety is great as you never get bored! 

Choose Derby 

I would definitely recommend studying History at Derby and also, joint honours, as I have had a fantastic experience so far.

The modules are exciting and stimulating and always involve discussion, so you have the opportunity of hearing countless different views and opinions.

In addition, the lecturers are superb, since they truly do go out of their way to ensure we succeed - through emails, lectures and one-to-one or group tutorials; they even reply to emails throughout the holidays if you need any help with anything. Not only do they assist with academic work, but they constantly encourage and advise us about careers and work experience.

Lastly, the History society is fantastic as you get to know history students from all year groups and you get to see the lecturers in a much more relaxed setting, which is great for building a supportive cohort of students who are there for each other.

Journalism

Choosing Journalism at Derby

I felt that a degree in journalism would help me greatly in gaining employment as a Journalist. The work experience I’m doing whilst at University is also essential as I feel that having the degree alone is not enough.

The work I have done since starting has been really interesting. We recently did photojournalism which I thoroughly enjoyed and completing the research and development file for this was a highlight.

I love the lecture content as we get to discuss a broad range of topics. I like that we are given a voice and can offer our opinion in class. I have most enjoyed the writing of assignments and learning the law and ethics of Journalism.

A Supportive Network

The tutor’s will sit with you when you ask for help and discuss your assignment. They will go it through it with you point by point and help you wherever you need improvement or if you don’t understand something.

I like that I can approach my lecturers and that they listen and help you if you are struggling. They want to help us improve, get better marks and to pass the course.

Great Opportunities

There have been plenty of opportunities for me here at Derby. I write for the University student magazine ‘Dusted’ and am also doing some work for a local charity. I hope to continue these for the duration that I am studying here.

A Rewarding Experience

The main rewards of being on the course were getting to learn which I love, making new friend and meeting new people, being able to finally write for a magazine now a newspaper and working towards the degree I need to get a job in my chosen career.

Recommending Derby

I would recommend Derby to anyone. I am a mature student and I think it will be the best decision I have ever made. The lecturers are friendly and helpful as are the other students on my course. Most importantly the staff all want you to go away with a degree of the highest mark.

Choosing Journalism at Derby

I was initially undecided as to what I wanted to do when I first started Sixth Form, but once I knew that journalism was the career path for me then university became the obvious choice. 
Choosing Derby was also an obvious choice for me, as they had everything to offer in terms of getting me to the level required to step into industry upon graduating.

Great facilities and exceptional support

The facilities are incredible for the Journalism course; with industry standard television and radio studios and a newsroom.

Derby has staff that have come out of the media straight into lecturing roles. They have all been fantastic over the course of my degree and provided me with help and guidance along the way to help me realise my potential.

Learning for the real world of Journalism

The course can be quite hectic in the sense that you get to cover all forms of media, which helps to set you up in the real world of Journalism. It's easy to see why you are taught the topics that you are, as when you do work placements and internships, you really see the transferable skills come into play.

Highlights and challenges

One of the most rewarding things about the Journalism course is that you get to make something and have an end product at the end of your work to showcase to everyone. Whether that's a feature for a newspaper, a radio documentary or a television news story, the end product is really satisfying.

However, the struggle to get there is perhaps one of the greatest challenges. Journalism is an area where you really have to work at what you want, and that’s never truer than when putting a news story together. But as I said, the end product makes the blood, sweat and tears worth it.

Choose Derby

I really enjoyed my time at Derby and like to think that I made the most out of it, both on a personal and academic level. It's a place to come if you want to be at a thriving university that's only getting better and the city is good fun too.

Derby is a great springboard for any aspiring journalist as they offer great facilities, expert staff and a great learning environment, as well as a fun city to call home while you're here. No matter what you want to study, there is the perfect course for you here in Derby.