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Postgraduate Certificate in Historical Studies spotlight: Margaret Scard
Margaret Scard published her first book, 'Tudor Survivor: The Life and Times of Courtier William Paulet' after taking our Foundation Certificate in History, and continued on to be part of the first cadre of graduates of our Postgraduate Certificate in Historical Studies.
'I initially worked in military aviation research and development but a peripatetic life as an RAF wife left little opportunity for a career and I studied for a degree in mathematics with the Open University.
'I became really interested in history while working as a volunteer guide at Salisbury Cathedral and came across the name of William Paulet while doing research on the history of Hampshire where I live. For over twelve years I have filled my spare time with researching his life and the Tudor period.'
'I was acutely aware that I lacked training in both researching history and in literary writing and applied to study for the Foundation Certificate in History. It was after that course and with encouragement from Dr Christine Jackson that I decided to try to publish my book.'
'Paulet had an extraordinary life serving and surviving under four Tudor monarchs and rising from being the son of a gentleman to be the senior peer in England. His career was so long and varied and he played such a central role at court and in many of the major issues of the period that he seemed to encompass something of the lives of all Tudor courtiers. So many books tell the reader what a person did but not how they did it and I thought that short explanations of his many varied appointments and daily routines such as dressing would help the reader to understand what the life of a courtier really involved.'
'Sadly, there are few original private papers left by Paulet (documents were probably lost when Basing House was destroyed by Cromwell during the Civil War) so the discovery of any original document pertaining to him was exciting. Calendars of Letters and Papers and State Papers provided a starting point to identify what he was doing. I spent many days in the Bodleian, the British Library, the National Archives and other archive deposits around the country, after having spent time trying to learn to read Tudor secretary hand. Two of the exciting discoveries were unravelling information to prove that he had only been married once, contrary to many biographical entries, and establishing that a copy of an autobiographical document purportedly written by him and which gave new information does appear to be genuine.'
'Paulet survived by earning respect, keeping the favour of the monarch and not making enemies. He maintained his principles, always loyal to the Crown while remaining a Catholic, and was accepted by monarchs and courtiers as reliable, a safe pair of hands, and good at his work. He lived in extraordinary times when it was possible to serve at the highest level holding appointments concurrently in both royal and government service as a royal servant and courtier, civil servant, privy councillor, member of the House of Lords and government minister - a career path today's politicians can only dream of.'
'I enjoyed the Foundation Certificate so much that I decided to take my history studies further and was delighted to return to the Department to join the Postgraduate Certificate in Historical Studies.'
'The Postgraduate Certificate was excellent. Designing the course thematically, rather than chronologically, meant that each unit examined several periods of history and introduced us to a wide range of ideas. I especially enjoyed the medieval topics and am looking forward to delving deeper into this period. The dissertation was challenging particularly working to a deadline, not something that had concerned me when researching my book, but I'm excited that the work has suggested new questions for further research. I enjoyed the residential weekends - for a few days we could enjoy being full-time students.'
'At the moment I'm enjoying the challenge of promoting Tudor Survivor and giving a few talks about William Paulet. For the future I would love to return to study at Oxford again, perhaps to do a Masters degree.'
'If you're considering the Postgraduate Certificate, I'd say take the opportunity - it's great fun. It's a privilege to be part of Oxford University and a wonderful experience to be taught by such talented historians and to have access to the University libraries and research facilities. Being a part-time student is hard work but deadlines for essays are well-spaced so that students are able to juggle study with home and work commitments - or publishing a book!'
Read more about Margaret Scard's book Tudor Survivor: The Life and Times of Courtier William Paulet on the publisher's website.