Jordan Phillips, 25, from Kilbirnie in North Ayrshire, is a Master of Research (MRes) graduate from QMU.

After graduating with a BA (hons) Film and Media from QMU in 2016, Jordan knew he wanted to pursue postgraduate studies by undertaking a Masters programme. He also knew that he was interested in an academic career, which would hopefully include a PhD, teaching and researching.

Why did you decide to study the MRes at QMU?

I’d heard through my academic circles that a Master of Research was a good way to pursue my academic career goal. I chose to continue my academic journey at QMU, not only because I’d already studied here, but because I’d made so many connections, including fellow students and academic staff, who always encouraged my academic progression with genuine interest and support.

QMU staff members from my own department and members of the Centre for Academic Practice (CAP) at QMU also supported me during my Masters on separate projects.

Before the first semester of the 2015/16 academic year, I was offered the role as a seminar tutor for my undergraduate course, which I firmly and graciously accepted.

How do you think the MRes has provided you with the knowledge and skills to develop your career?

The MRes allowed me to utilise the research skills I’d gained during my undergraduate degree and build on them to become a more well-rounded academic researcher.

How did you find the workload and support?

I found the workload to be very realistic, even with my teaching commitments, and the pastoral support offered was ample and consistent throughout the year.

The course prepared me well for the fast-paced and, at times, isolating life of an academic. Many of the classes we had were in relation to the changing nature of academia itself, including the increasingly accented social media promotion, funding, bursaries, and attending conferences and publishing as early stage researchers. All of this suitably equipped me for the career path I had chosen and I think more institutions could learn something from the way QMU’s MRes is administered.

What are your top tips for future students?

My advice to prospective postgraduate students would be: take your time. Take your time deciding on your course, your future, and ultimately your reasons for continuing study.

I know a lot of students who pursue Masters courses simply because they don’t know what they want – generally, I wouldn’t advise this. It’s a huge commitment financially and emotionally and shouldn’t be taken lightly. That being said, if you know for certain that you want to go down this path, I would say: relax. Try and enjoy your course as much as you can. When I was on the MRes, I was travelling all over the UK presenting my work at academic conferences (not usually a requirement for a Masters’ student, but I wanted to get ahead of the game, as it were).

I was also writing for academic blogs, journals, and working voluntarily as a tutor within the University’s Effective Learning Service (ELS).

I’m not discouraging extracurricular activities, but remember that your wellbeing comes first, before anything else. As long as you’re happy, healthy, and have a solid academic/personal balance, then I’ve no hesitation in recommending postgraduate study to anyone, and can easily say it’s one of the greatest accomplishments of my life.

There is one aspect of my academic journey that I wish I’d undertaken slightly differently. I’d have taken more moments to breathe. We live in a society of instant gratification where doing everything you can as fast as you possibly can, is celebrated. I know now that this is not healthy. Aim high, yes, and make the most of the time and the resources that are given to you, but know that things will fall into place regardless of the pace of your achievements. Take your time, you’ll thank me later.

What have you been doing since graduating from QMU?

I began working for an agency which supplies universities with academic support tutors, usually students who have additional support needs such as dyslexia and dyspraxia.

Having more free time gave me the chance to work on myself - something I’d regrettably neglected for many years. I started focusing more on my music (I play guitar and I sing), and have since become a drag performer, Rayna Destruction, across numerous venues in Edinburgh, including CC Blooms, Espionage, and The Pond.

I’ve also started volunteering with a worldwide HIV activist organisation and I’m planning a trip to New Zealand, as well as considering undertaking a counselling skills course to expand my academic and personal development.

A PhD is still in my future, I’m certain, but right now I’m just trying to make the most of my life and take it as it comes.


"I found the workload to be very realistic, even with my teaching commitments, and the pastoral support offered was ample and consistent throughout the year."
Jordan Phillips

Story Published 2017 -2018

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