Caitlin Murphy

Student spotlight details

Cait's passion for English literature was rekindled after taking some online short courses with the Department. After a transformative experience studying on the Certificate in English Literature, she is now getting ready to begin the MSt in Literature and Arts as a distance learner.

'My days are spent wearing the hat of a compliance officer who, at eighteen, traded in their passion for English Literature to secure a ‘practical education’ in International Public Relations and then in Law. This has led me to my career journey working in Compliance at Google for the past eight years. My fascination with literature and history, however, never subsided and with the flexibility that the pandemic allowed, I endeavoured to explore my literary obsession and enrol in online courses to feed my zealous hunger for literary knowledge.

'I found some of the short courses on the Continuing Education website. I took two courses: Contemporary British Fiction and Critical Reading. Once I started, I could not stop and from one course to another resulted in my first foray into exploring a career as a literary scholar, namely in the form of the Certificate in English Literature at Oxford. It was here that my life was forever changed. Now, I know that sounds cliché and perhaps it is, but it is also entirely true. The certificate introduced me to the study of English Literature that I always craved. It was the missing piece of my puzzle that I did not know was missing.

'The certificate was a pivotal moment for me and I will forever credit that programme with being the best decision of my life. A particular highlight however was the Shakespeare Summer School Week where the online cohort met in person. It was wonderful getting to meet everyone who you had known only through a small window on a screen. 

'During one of the breaks in between the lectures, I had a discussion with Lynn Robson that prompted a consideration of the MLA. I knew as I embarked on the certificate that I wanted to continue to pursue my education. However, I had to consider those practical aspects such as my job and my family. Many master's programmes that I looked into were full-time and not flexible enough for me to keep my job and stay with my family. The Master's in Literature and Arts was the perfect choice for me. Not only did it mean I could stay within the bounds of the Continuing Education department, but I could do an interdisciplinary masters part-time and distanced with the University of Oxford! Being immersed in studying at Oxford during the certificate, even if it was just for the week, seemed an unobtainable dream and now, even after being accepted into the MLA, I still pinch myself every day.

'Coming back into a university setting after being out of it for some time can take some time to adjust (the stress of essay writing comes back with full vengeance)! However, the tutors and lecturers are so willing to help you adjust and provide guidance that soon you’re right back into it and writing essays becomes just that little bit easier. 

'I would love to continue my education into a PhD and see where I can go in the academic space. My goal is to transition to an academic career, continue to learn and add value to the interdisciplinary fields of English literature, history and culture as well as pass that knowledge on through teaching.

'If you are considering doing any of the courses through Continuing Education – do not hesitate, just do it and I can promise you that you won’t regret it. No matter the stage of life you find yourself in, it is never too late to pursue your passion and education.'

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