Rai Furniss-Greasley – MRes Sexuality and Gender Studies
MRes Sexuality and Gender Studies student Rai Furniss Greasley returned to the University eight years after completing their undergraduate degree. We found out more about their experience as a postgraduate student at the University of Birmingham.
Why did you choose to study your course in Sexuality and Gender Studies?
The MRes course offered me a good grounding in research so that I could progress into a PhD at a later stage. I had been out of HE for a little over eight years when I started the course so I felt the combined taught and research elements would help me get back into the swing of things. I specifically decided on Sexuality and Gender Studies as it best fit with the topic I wanted to research and the staff supporting the course were experts in areas relevant to my project.
Why did you choose to undertake research at the University of Birmingham?
I undertook my BA degree here at the University of Birmingham and I have since worked at UoB too so I know the campus, the people and what’s available here. I started my MRes as a way to stimulate myself intellectually and to prove to myself I could do it so my existing knowledge of the University helped me to just focus on the course itself.
What are the best things about your course?
As a part-time student I have been in two cohorts for the course and, in both years, my fellow students have been great to work with. It is especially interesting to hear what everyone else is researching and being able to talk to others about their approaches as it has often inspired me to try something new. My supervisor has been excellent throughout: they are friendly, knowledgeable, and reassuring. I was quite anxious about returning to study and Dr Evans has been a great support.
What is life like as a researcher at the University of Birmingham?
I think life as a researcher anywhere will have its peaks and troughs. My time on my MRes has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic so there weren’t as many in-person activities as in previous years, but I was working from home and couldn’t get onto campus anyway. What I think has been most important is that my supervisor and all the staff supporting the course have been very considerate and always try their best to support us. It helps to know there are people you can rely on.
What support have you received during your course?
I’ve received support from my supervisor, lecturers in specialist subjects, the welfare tutors, the Graduate School and the CAL PG Office. The welfare tutors are brilliant and always very responsive; they’ve helped me with reasonable adjustments and general advice. The Graduate School offers opportunities for socialising and trying new skills (yoga, mindfulness, knitting) that are great to take your mind off things for a while. The CAL PG Office communicate regularly with students with newsletters and a Discord channel, and it is nice to see all the different events around the college for PG students this way.
Outside of your research, what experience have you gained and how will it help you in the future?
The taught elements of the MRes have been invaluable in providing me with a solid foundation for critical thinking, using theoretical frameworks and writing high quality academic text. I’ve also gained practical experience in project management that can easily be transferred to any role I take on in the future.