A day in the life of an English Master’s student at Durham

Lydia Shaw

It starts with coffee!

I usually wake up around 8.30am, have breakfast and have my essential first coffee of the day (I absolutely love coffee!) Then I would spend some time getting ready and packing my bag with anything I may need.


Then I would normally head to the library to do some work, such as reading criticism or work on any assignments I may have. If I had a seminar that day, I would make sure I am prepared for it by reading the primary text, which could either be a collection of poems or a novel, reading some secondary criticism and spending some time thinking about the texts ready for the discussions in the seminar. Seminars are two hours long so this can take up a good chunk of the day but is a really great time to catch up with people on your course and bring the novels or poetry you have been reading to life and hear other people’s thoughts about the texts, as well as learning from your seminar leader.


I always take a nice lunch break and catch up with some friends before getting back to work or go on a walk along the river just to clear my head before starting back to work. If I have a book to read and it is a nice day, I often like to sit outside in the sun and read, or if it is a bit chilly, I like to make myself a cup of tea and sit in my room and do my reading. This is one of my favourite parts of the day!


I usually finish work around 5pm, have my dinner and then maybe spend some time with friends. Or I may have an activity planned such as College netball which involves training in the evening once or twice a week. This is a great way to meet people as well as an excellent way to take a break from working and get into the fresh air!

In the evening, I sometimes would head to the College bar to see some friends and catch up with them or curl up in bed with a book ready to start my next day!

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Lydia Shaw

Hello! My name is Lydia, I’m currently doing a PhD in English Literature. I also did my master’s degree here at Durham in Romantic and Victorian Literary Studies and am in St Cuthbert’s College. I am in the Yoga and Pilates society and love walking around the beautiful river and sights in Durham.

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