I was settled in my home in Durham with my partner and our cats, so moving away for university was out of the question. I intended to visit each of the North East universities that ran courses in Film and/or Media Studies, and Sunderland hosted the first of the open days. After that open day, I didn’t even visit the others! My mind was made up. Instantly, I was amazed by how warm and inclusive the atmosphere was at Sunderland, and the facilities for media seemed impossible to rival!
Initially, I was going to study Media Production, but I had a change of heart due to my love of theory and analysis. That was when I decided to study BA Film and Media – a decision I would never regret. By contrast to any other courses, Film and Media offered an exciting combination of theory and practice, and the possibility of following your personal preferences throughout the course.
My favourite modules were ones with lots of film analysis – I was lucky because there were many! I particularly liked modules that addressed my growing interests in gender, sexuality and society – the final year module ‘Film, Horror and the Body’ was a favourite of mine for this reason but is generally a fun (and gore) filled module loved by all! I also enjoyed the more atypical modules like ‘Popular Music Cultures’ which provided an opportunity to learn something a bit different, particularly as it was assessed with journalistic writing instead of essays.
Having nurtured my passion for researching sex and society throughout the three years, and especially while writing my dissertation on ‘The Representation of Porn in BBC Documentaries’, it was time to think about next steps. In my final year, I was encouraged by my wonderful lecturers to apply for a PhD studentship with the prestigious NINE DTP. This was an extremely lengthy and competitive process, and part of me thought I would never succeed, but with the support of staff over several long months, I finally submitted a proposal for a PhD project on ‘Selling sex in the digital age: identity, authenticity and pleasure on OnlyFans’. That proposal was accepted, and I was offered a full 1+3 studentship, which includes a fully funded Master’s degree and PhD!
I am coming to the end of my MA in Media and Society at Newcastle University, and I’m soon to be starting my PhD at Northumbria. While it is exciting to make so much progress, it is bittersweet leaving Sunderland and BA Film and Media in the past! Those three years were the time of my life, and most importantly, they really changed my mindset. I’m so grateful for the amazing teaching team on BA Film and Media, all of this was possible thanks to their own passion for teaching, and their ongoing care and support on both academic and personal levels.
My advice for prospective students is to just go for it, even if that means waiting to do it on your own terms like I did. It is never too late! Make the most of your time in seminars and don’t be afraid to use your voice. If you are struggling, never be ashamed to ask for help. Get involved with as much as you can – networking is helpful! But don’t do more than you can – your wellbeing is the most important steppingstone to your success. Good luck!”
Published 19 August 2022