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Case Study

Liam Atkin

Northallerton, UK

PGCE Post Compulsory Education and Training (PCET)

BA (Hons) Performing Arts


Although it had never been part of his plan to go to university, Liam Atkin made a last minute decision on A Level results day to pursue a degree in Performing Arts and gained a place at the University of Sunderland through Clearing. He then continued his studies with the PGCE PCET course, so that he could turn his passion for drama into something he can share and teach to others.

Right up until A Level results day, I had no intention of continuing my studies. I hadn’t applied to go to university anywhere, I didn’t have a UCAS account, and I was fully intending on receiving my results and applying for an apprenticeship. It wasn’t the career path I wanted for myself, but it was an easy option – what I really wanted to do was keep performing, growing as an actor and as an individual. Results day arrived and my Drama teacher talked to me about continuing to do something I enjoyed and was good at. Following that brief conversation, I completely turned a corner and started applying to universities through the Clearing process. Sunderland responded almost immediately to my application, asking about my background and grades. Sure enough, I was accepted onto the BA (Hons) Performing Arts course.

Although I’m not from Sunderland, me and my family do have history with the city – many of my older family members grew up in the area and I’m a lifelong fan of the football team. Being from Northallerton, my options for university were quite varied, but ultimately, I chose Sunderland as they seemed extremely enthusiastic that I could create a successful future studying here.

Now I’m coming to the end of my PGCE PCET, and my favourite part of the whole experience has been seeing myself grow as an individual. I’m now able to use all the skills and knowledge I’ve developed during my courses and apply them to the real world, turning my passion for drama into something I can share and teach to others. Both my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees have given me the opportunity to be around other people who are just as passionate and hardworking within the area I also want to succeed in.

The PCET course has been incredible, allowing me to discover all the different ways I can grow even further as a professional and as a teacher. Not only am I fully confident in my abilities, but I have a greater understanding in what I can achieve and what my strengths are. My time at Sunderland has let me develop further than I ever thought I could and I’m now confident in the future I want for myself. My postgraduate degree has equipped me with the tools I need in order to be successful within the world of education – how to apply feedback, assess, create, and deliver lessons. Not only that, but going to university has helped me greatly in terms of how I communicate with others, both professionally and personally, by building friendships with people from all over the world with different backgrounds and lifestyles.

The biggest piece of advice I can give to anybody considering studying here is to really give 100% in everything you do. Apply for opportunities, explore new places, make new friends and join societies. Make sure you really push the boat out and experience things that you have an interest in. After university, it can be difficult to know whether you’ll like something or not without trying it, so use this time to enjoy yourself and learn new things.

For me, coming to university has been an incredible personal journey. I’m not the same person I was when I first started my degree and I’m thankful for that. I’m now much more confident, independent, and I have made friendships and memories that I will carry forward long after my graduation. Of course, times have been tough, but I’m still proud of my work and having the ability to keep going, particularly during the difficult times.”

Published 3 August 2022

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