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Choosing a UK school...

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Alright - I am in the throes of a major decision crisis. And, since this board seems to be the place for laying out me-focused, personal choices, I would crave your indulgence and ask for any helpful advice you might have to dole out.

I'm heading to the UK this fall to pursue a Masters in Medieval Studies. I've gotten into Oxford, Leeds, and York. Right now, I don't know what to think about York...I'm still waiting to hear some funding results. Mainly, I'm in a huge quandry over Oxford vs. Leeds. Leeds matches my research interests very well. They have the International Medieval Congress. They've also been extremely personal and friendly. The director of the program made an effort to speak to me over the phone, make sure all my questions were answered, and offered to review my scholarship application. Which I was successful in - I received a 4000 pound scholarship, which would certainly make a dent in my tuition. Plus, there's a strong chance of a paid internship at Leeds. And it seems like they're a well-ranked, respected university, although it's been hard for me to get a complete grip on that.

But Oxford is Oxford. They didn't offer me any funding, but would it just be stupid of me to pass up the opportunity to study there? Should the name alone trump all other possible schools? I do want to go on to a PhD after completing my Masters, possibly at the school where I do the MA (so Leeds or Oxford), just b/c this seems like it would be easiest. And I've heard many versions of the UK PhD marketable/non-marketable theory. But, honestly, I'd really like to stay in the UK to work, so my US employability isn't my top concern at the moment. I suppose I could do my MA at Leeds and re-apply to Oxford for PhD...but I'm already in now, so should I just go?

Phew - ok, I know this is a fairly specific problem, but if anyone out there has any sort of opinion whatsoever, I would love to hear it! And I really, truly appreciate it, so thank you!

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  • 1 month later...

I'm in almost the same situation... I was accepted to York and Oxford, for the MA and MSt in Medieval Studies, and it is so hard to choose! York is ideal for me in terms of course structure and my research interests, and the program has such a great reputation. I've heard from a few people in fact that it's better regarded than Oxford. Also, as an international student relying on loans I do have to take into account the difference in tuition (i.e., college fees) and living expenses.

But I also wonder if I will end up kicking myself for passing up the chance to go to Oxford - both for the experience, and the name value and possible career impact down the line. The prestige factor does make a difference in the UK job market - how much of a difference, I don't really know. I would also like to go on to a PhD and work in the UK afterward.

Right now I'm still waiting to hear about my college placement at Oxford - I was told I should hear back in June, but nothing yet.

Have you made a decision yet? Sorry I don't have any input to share about Leeds - I didn't apply there (York was my first choice) but I've heard nothing but good things about the program. That's brilliant that you've got a scholarship - if it were me, I think, that might tip the balance in favour of Leeds, but I know how difficult it is!

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  • 1 month later...

I'm sure you've made your decision already, but I've just seen the topic!

I'm completing my MA in American Literature and Culture at Leeds. The faculty in English are fantastic (if you decide to take a medieval literature class) and I've heard great things about the IMS. The Brotherton Library is one of the best in the country and you have close access to the British Library in Boston Spa/Wetherby.

I'm sure you're aware that getting any kind of finance for the humanities in UK is nearly impossible, so if you've been offered money at Leeds, take it. It will look great on your application for PhD that you've already been awarded scholarships.

Also, Leeds is a fantastic city. There's a lot more to do there than in Oxford. I've lived here for nearly 5 years and love it! :)

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