Daniel Morgan, Universities of Warwick and York
Funding for PGCE Drama, and MA Theatre Studies
My story of postgraduate funding goes back four years. I come from an Arts background, studying theatre at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and working as an Actor. It was whilst working as an Actor with Royal Shakespeare Company in their Education department that I decided to study for a PGA in teaching Shakespeare, which would lead in turn to me studying and qualifying as a Drama teacher. I had some government funding from a trial scheme at University of Warwick, but needed more to do a full PGCE and qualify as a teacher.
I looked around various websites and funding guides, and came across a theatre-based charity who specialise in Actors re-training. I contacted them, told them about myself, what my background had been and what my intentions were for the future, and after careful consideration I received a grant to cover my University fees.
After a year or so of working as a teacher I had decided that I wanted to move in a more academic direction, and get an M.A in Theatre Studies, and hopefully move beyond that into research. I applied to Hull University, Central School of Speech and Drama, and my old University Guildhall. While I was accepted by most of these, my problem was that funding was few and far between. I did manage to drum up some funding from local charities and Arts based education trusts, which I searched for on websites such as ‘Turn 2 us’ and searching for ‘Postgraduate funding’.
The little money I raised wasn't enough on its own, but it gave me hope that there was money out there to be had, but I felt I needed a 'hook'. I was convinced that there must be another way to fund my M.A., and after reading the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding, I set about my quest for funding! I started by sitting down and asking myself, what was I really interested in doing, what was I really good at? I had been working on a project called ‘The Hull Mystery Plays’ - a personal research project based around the medieval plays of my native Kingston Upon Hull, that I hoped to one day perform in the town.
I initially applied to Hull through the AHRC as they were offering one studentship for History, which I failed to get, although I got great feedback on my application. I was also unsuccessful at both Kings College London and Norwich, but again took some helpful positives from the application process. Eventually though, after being interviewed by York, I was extremely impressed, and was offered a place, and was entered into their scholarship awards.
As I felt my chances of success were slim, I once again looked for alternative funding. I managed to win a £1500 award for educational travel to the Middle East from bodies such as the Sir Philip Reckit Educational Travel fund. I was undergoing research in Israel that linked directly to the course I was starting, and this charity offered funds to people from East Yorkshire who wish to travel to places that will directly inform or benefit their studies. In my application, I hooked into the East Yorkshire aspect of the charity, using the fact that my research would benefit to the city of Hull, and link in with its recently-awarded 'City of Culture' award.
Overall, my advice really is, use what you've got! If you think that what you have may be a little different and attractive, milk it for all its worth! Don’t give up, and use anything you can to boost your chances and to make yourself seem unique! Write to as many people as you can for advice, and spread your bets when applying to places. Also, when looking for a course, really do your research, find out about the faculty staff, who might relate to you, and what if any of the teachers have in common with what you want to do. This will all help you later.
And finally, have a hook. Mine was ‘The Hull Noah play’ - a Medieval play that had little or no research surrounding it, and I was an Actor wanting to study medieval history. This made me seem different and interesting, and gave me a story that bodies - whether charities or academic scholarships offered by universities - would find compelling and interesting!
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