Claire is a graduate of the MA History of Family at the University of Limerick living in Dublin. She runs her own successful genealogy research business (www.cbgenealogy.ie).
Can you introduce yourself and explain why you chose the MA program?
My name is Claire Bradley. I am a genealogist living in Dublin. I had always had ambitions to do a postgraduate degree. My undergraduate was a while ago and in between then and now, I completed a Level 7 certificate in family history at UCD. I wanted something different to do for my MA and I always felt that the area I was most interested in was Irish history and because I was a genealogist already, I felt that this was a very compatible program for me.
Why did you choose UL to do your MA in?
There were a few reasons, but firstly, it was the only University offering such a program in Ireland. I was also attracted to the blended learning element of the programme. Because I am up in Dublin every single week, I thought it would be difficult for me. However, I felt like I could come every second or every third week and I could have both experiences. The other reason I wanted to choose Limerick was because my grandmother came from Limerick and so I felt I already had a connection to the region. I know she would have been thrilled to know that I chose to study in Limerick.
How did you find out about the course? Was it through your own research? Or did you hear from other people?
I had known about it from when I had studied at UCD. It had been mentioned as a possible onward programme of study. I knew several people who had taken the MA over the years and one person said that she loved it so much she would do it again if she could. Therefore, I started thinking about it and in the summer of 2020, I joined a webinar given by the directors and lecturers of the course featuring a couple of people who had studied the course also and from there I decided this course was for me.
What are the specific aspects of the course that you were impressed by the most or what is the best thing about the course and what did you find most enjoyable?
I really liked the scaffolded approach to learning, which was that everything we did and learned previously was built upon and enhanced. They didn’t assume that we knew everything already even though we were all studying at postgraduate level. My favourite thing about the course that I really enjoyed was the module that we did on migration studies because that really informed my genealogy work.
What was the experiences and opportunities that the course presented you? How did you find certain features of the programmes?
There was great support from the lecturers, particularly Dr Rachel Murphy and if there were any minor issues, they were dealt with quickly and appropriately and we were listened to. In terms of the academic support people were able to get extensions and many people doing this course would be working as well and that is always taken into consideration. The guest lectures were really interesting and informative also.
Can you provide an insight into how the course is delivered?
The main day each week was Thursday for us, it started with either live lectures or live seminars. We would log into Sulis, the custom learning environment, and then each module had its own section, its own form and its own reading list. We would interact with the lecturer in the virtual classroom setting several times on that day and then we would go off for breaks or to watch pre-recorded lectures. The live lectures were also recorded so if you could not make a session or were in an incompatible time zone, you could just watch it later, it was great!
What have you gained from studying this MA?
I have made some new friends, which is great and some new academic contacts, which is lovely to have. I have a much better understanding of familial structure and migration patterns, which are two things that I learned in the course; it really informs my work. It really has added to what I do in my day-to-day job.
Would you recommend the programme to others?
I would. It's particularly compatible for people who are interested in Irish history or family history or even demographics, which is obviously a bit more academic, but super interesting. There is a steep learning curve in the first semester, particularly if you have not done academic work in a long time but the staff are there to support you. Then for your dissertation work, I would say start the master bibliography when you first get the first related assignment. There is a first assignment in the first semester and I would recommend just starting with it then and keep building on it. Just trust the process and when you are applying, I would say have everything ready that you are going to need if you have a previous college experience because you are going to need your college transcripts. Nevertheless, yes, I would highly recommend this programme.