Jon Mitchell, BA MA (2005-2010)

Jon gained a 1st class BA in History at the University of Leicester before achieving a distinction in the MA in Urban History at CUH. He was awarded a School of Historical Studies Bursary to contribute towards the cost of the MA, and also successfully applied for an Economic History Review Bursary to for the travel expenses of his MA dissertation.

Jon’s BA and MA dissertations were on public executions in mid nineteenth century Britain, particularly how these events became more problematic, or were constructed as such by those who objected to them.  Jon found employment on a graduate trainee programme in a council housing department in London soon after completing his MA at CUH. This programme involved part time study on day release for an MA in Housing Policy at the University of Westminster.  He has now completed the programme and the MA, to secure permanent employment as a housing estate manager.

Why did you choose the MA in Urban History?

I chose to do a Masters because I did not feel academically fulfilled after completing my undergraduate studies. I wanted more time to develop my ideas and I did not feel ready or prepared to start a career. Professor Gunn supervised my undergraduate dissertation and informed me about what was on offer at the CUH. My initial perception of Urban History was that it would focus on dry demographics and economics of urban growth. Through discussing my work Professor Gunn, I realised that this is not case and my enthusiasm for the subject grew.

What has been the most fun aspect of the MA?

There is a great social atmosphere at the CUH, but the course was also good fun. The degree helped me develop courage and confidence in my research and findings. I was able to write in a way that I believed was original to made a genuine contribution to some of the issues that I studied. It was an empowering experience.

What parts of the MA have you enjoyed the least and why?

The statistical analysis part of the course was a necessary evil, but it was good that the Urban History students were able to work through it together and submit a project as a group.

Are there any parts of the course which you feel will be of particular use for your future career choice?

The modules on urban planning and conservation  gave a useful contextual understanding to my job as a housing estate manager, as some of the properties that I am involved in are listed or in conservation areas.

The most useful part of the course was the support and advice that was offered by the staff at the CUH. The staff supported my efforts to find employment, despite the MA Urban History being primarily an academic rather than a vocational qualification. They provided me with opportunities and advice to help me develop the skills that I needed to find employment, particularly my presentation skills. This fed into success at the application and interview stage of the graduate employment schemes that I applied for. I ended up being offered a graduate level position by two organisations, both of which were to start immediately after I had completed the MA.

In my job I have had to prepare reports and give presentations to panels and committees, and I have  been commended for the clarity of my writing and presentation skills. This was very satisfying given the problems that I used to have had in these areas.

What is your most memorable moment at CUH?

Memorable trips included a Foucauldian art exhibition in Nottingham Jail, guided tours of Leicester and Liverpool with planning, regeneration and conservation professionals and many enjoyable discussions over tea and cake (or curry and beer!)… and press-ups to keep warm as demonstrated by Professor Sweet…

Do you have any ‘survival’ tips for future students?

Make the most the great support and fantastic working environment. But also try to get a part time job if you are considering working rather than studying after the MA.

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