Rob is currently undertaking a PhD in Religions and Theology at Manchester after returning to education to complete the MA in Religions and Theology in 2017.
Here, he talks about what it was like to undertake the MA during a career break.
On why I started the MA course
Following the completion of my undergraduate studies in History at the University of Leeds, I completed a PGCE to become a teacher of History in secondary schools.
At that time, I was not ready for the challenge of MA studies. Since 2004 I have taught History at Bury Church of England High School, including a period as Head of Department from 2009-18. I am married and have two children, aged 12 and nine.
By 2016, I knew that that the time was right to further my academic career again. I wanted to expand my knowledge of historical and Jewish Studies subjects whilst developing my research and essay skills.
The MA in Religions and Theology (focusing on Jewish Studies) proved to be an ideal choice. The award of a bursary made this aspiration possible and allowed me to negotiate the time off school.
I used my sabbatical year away from the classroom to complete my MA with distinction.
On what the course was like
The MA course structure allowed for the flexibility to pursue units of study from a variety of subject areas including modern British history and contemporary British politics, as well as encouraging me to go beyond my comfort zone with mandatory units such as methods and impacts.
With the support of approachable and knowledgeable staff, I was able to complete essays and the final dissertation to a standard which I did not believe was possible 12 months earlier.
I highly recommend the MA to individuals fresh from their undergraduate studies or to more mature students.
The course environment encourages people from a wide age range and differing social/professional backgrounds to engage together in a stimulating and rewarding environment.
On my PhD
In September 2017, I returned to teaching and decided to apply for a PhD, researching Anglo Jewish and Muslim relations in the 20th century.
I started a part-time PhD in September 2018 and have enjoyed the challenge of balancing my family, research and teaching commitments.
So far, the process has been challenging but engaging, and the satisfaction of identifying potentially original material and insights keeps me going when the going sometimes get tough!