Student spotlight details
Having previously completed master’s degrees in business and finance, encouragement from his family inspired Simon to take an intellectual break from financial services and apply for a degree in English Literature. Once completed, Simon then applied to enrol our Masters in Literature and Arts (MLA) programme.
'Before I get carried away with a fulsome panegyric about the MSt in Literature and Arts (MLA), as it is an excellent programme, let’s go back a few years and see how and why I have ended up as a "mature" part-time student at Oxford.
'I am a freelance project manager in financial services mainly implementing new systems to combat money laundering, financial crime and terrorist financing, and have spent the last thirty-something years in IT and Business Change. After completing master’s degrees in business and international finance I needed an intellectual break from computing and business theory. My thinking went along the lines of: "I read plenty of books on the train, if I wrote a few essays I could get a degree in English Literature."
'Not quite as easy as that, but that’s essentially what I did. Fast-forward to graduation, and the family said, "what are you going to study now?" "At least it [study] keeps you out of trouble, as we know where you are, ensconced in that book-based fire hazard of an office."
'One of my sons found a course and said, "you should apply to Oxford to study Literature and Arts" the others encouraged with "go on, go on, you’ll love it." I consulted with the crew down the local, and they were in consensus with the family. One of the regulars is a Wadham College alumnus, and to stop incessant droning on about the wonders of Oxford – I applied.
'The MLA is a low-residency course but matriculated, so you are officially a member of the University and belong to a college. The rituals of dressing up and formal dinners are great fun and something you do not normally get as a distance learner. In addition, I can now engage !the alumnus! in the art of disporting the sub-fusc. Blended learning has its challenges especially when you are away from Oxford, as its museums and libraries are an excellent resource for locating primary sources. The MLA is heavy on material culture, so getting yourself access to a good museum and library is a must. Online searches are essential, but at some stage, you need to find the "real thing".
'I find researching for essays particularly rewarding when discovering cultural links between numerous artefacts and literature – the subjects are endless. If you are interested in what humans have achieved from a cultural viewpoint, then you will not be disappointed with the programme. If you are insatiably curious and need a focus for your enquiries, look no further, as the MLA can’t be beaten. You will also meet some extraordinary people who are brilliant, helpful, interesting, and kind, with the occasional genuine eccentric genius thrown in.'