Find out what life is really like at Durham University

DepartmentsPostgraduateStudent experience

A Day in the Life of a Languages, Literature and Cultures MA student

I started my studies on the MA Languages, Literature and Cultures last October but I have already been at Durham for the past three years studying Law.

I loved my law studies but wanted to study something a little different moving forward and was drawn to this course due to my multicultural background and the opportunity the course provides to study a wide range of modules from various different departments.

I’ve found that postgraduate life is quite different to undergraduate life at Durham. Studying is a lot more independent, I have more freedom with essay topics I chose to explore and I don’t have any exams at the end of the year. My course is fully assessed based on essays and the course continues throughout the summer until my dissertation deadline in September.

I’ve loved my whole time in Durham and this postgraduate course has provided an opportunity to explore a new and fascinating area of the humanities I hadn’t had the chance to study before.


My day typically begins around 9 am (I am not a morning person), when I catch up on admin, checking emails and messages, sorting the little things I like to get done before I start my academic work so my mind isn’t focused on other things.

Mid-morning, I head to the Bill Bryson library to work, or, if I want a more informal place to work, I’ll go to the library at St Mary’s College (my college) or one of the coffee places in town. I personally like to vary the places I work in because it helps my concentration (and Durham has so many ideal cute little cafés).

Being a humanities postgraduate student, I have few weekly contact hours and my modules, taught through weekly 2-hour seminars, only run for a term each. So when I am not in a seminar, I am reading the materials for the next one, going over my notes or writing the summative essays for the modules.

 I study a variety of modules, from World Literature and Translation to Ethics, Medicine and History, so there is always a variety of materials and topics to research. I am also currently doing research on my dissertation (on children’s literature), which is due in September.

Postgraduate study can be demanding and I’ve found it vital to balance it out with extra-curricular activities.

Finding the balance

I am involved in Durham Student Theatre so in the evenings and on weekends, I typically have rehearsals for whichever show I am currently doing (at the moment, DULOG’s Singin’ in the Rain), which enables me to relax and catch up with friends. I also have a student job as one of Durham Student Theatre’s Internal Hires Co-ordinators, for which I work 5 paid hours a week.

I am also involved in college life. I am living in St Mary’s College this year and am one of the Middle Common Room (MCR) welfare reps. In previous years, I have volunteered in local schools with the Student Volunteering team and for a month in the summer in India at a wildlife sanctuary with DUCK, the charity committee.

All this to say that there is a huge range of amazing opportunities and societies to get involved with and I rarely go a day without doing something alongside my degree which allows me to fully benefit from my time at Durham.

To see what postgraduate courses Durham has to offer, download our interactive prospectus here.