First (and Last) Exam of the Year!

Yesterday I had my first and thankfully last (yay!) exam of the year. The exam was in a film module called ‘Film Genre- Case Study’ and involved applying critical approaches to a fifteen minute clip from a Western film.

The exams on my course are nothing like the exams from school or college which involved sitting in a massive, echoey room on tiny desks, far apart from everybody else. We have the exams in our small seminar groups in the usual seminar room and I definitely find that it makes the whole experience less nerve-wracking. We are given a sheet of paper with the exam question on, as well as information that may be useful, like character and actor names. We are also given an exam booklet which is full of blank paper to write on. It’s okay to make notes in the exam booklet as long as they’re crossed out at the end. When filling out our information on the front of the booklet there is a section that can be folded over and stuck down to cover our names. This ensures that the person whose exam is being marked is kept anonymous throughout the marking process.

 

The Creative Writing side of my course is exam-free and completely based on coursework as it’s hard to evaluate creative skills in an exam format. The coursework is split between creative pieces and analyses of other people’s creative work. This year I’ll be producing a stage play, a collection of poetry and a piece of short fiction. Although these pieces aren’t due in until May I find with creative work it is best to start as early as possible as the drafting process can be quite intense and often the final piece is nothing like the first draft. We also workshop these pieces in seminars in order to get feedback as well as giving feedback to others, which can help with our own work.

I now have to wait around four weeks to find out how I did in the exam and, although I’m nervous to get my results, I’m glad that it’s out the way.

My First Presentation

Whilst my first year at Edge Hill is now drawing to a close I still have to go in for one more thing. Most courses at some point have a module that includes doing a presentation in front of people, and next week is my first. We will only be presenting to around four people, but to say that I’m a little nervous would be an understatement.
The presentation acts as an assessment in one of my film modules and I’ve chosen to do it on Lacanian Theory in the 1999 drug culture film Human Traffic. One of the things that I didn’t count on was the time in which it would take to find stills from the film that appropriately back up my point, and I’ve found myself having to watch the DVD on my laptop so that I can pause at certain points in order to take screenshots. I think that it’s safe to say that after this presentation I won’t want to watch Human Traffic for a very long time!
As daunting as the thought of a presentation can be the tutors have been very helpful. My seminar tutor prepared his own presentation in order to show us what was expected of us. It gave me a good idea of how much information should be on my slides compared to how much I should say. This helped me to decide that my slides would consist mainly of pictures and key words to prompt me. I am also preparing a handout that outlines my main arguments.
Although I’m still nervous for next week I know that everybody will be in the same position. It’s important for me to remember to stay confident and that the presentation will all be over in a few minutes. As panicked as I know I’ll feel beforehand I know that it will all go fine. Now just to get it finished!

Assignments

It’s nearing the end of the university year which means that I have a ton of assignment deadlines at the moment. University assignments differ somewhat from the ones I had to do whilst I was at school, and the procedure for handing them in is extremely different. Before I started at Edge Hill I had lots of questions about assignments, so I’ve written this for anyone who might be in the same position. However, every department has their own way of doing things, so bear in mind that I only know about the procedure for those studying English Literature.

Once we’ve written an essay, the first thing we do is upload it to an online system called Turnitin. This checks the work for plagiarism, after which you are given a similarity percentage. Our tutors use this to check that our work is all our own, and that is why we very often get reminded about how important it is to reference accurately. For English Literature, we use the MHRA style of referencing. It can be difficult to use at first, but I found it quickly got a lot easier with practice.

We are also required to hand in a physical copy of our work, which most tutors will annotate and add feedback to when they mark it. There are lots of regulations regarding how work should be presented, such as spacing and font size, but you’ll be told about all those things when you start the course. Assignments are always submitted alongside a coversheet which has your name and details of the essay on. We pick these up from the copy room which is located next to where we hand our essays in. Here’s what the English Literature coversheet looks like:

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In the English and History department we hand our assignments in in drop boxes located down the Clough corridor. The boxes are emptied at 4pm each day and stamped so they know which day you handed it in (not that it matters as long as it’s before the deadline.) Once they’ve been marked, our tutors either hand our essays back to us during seminars, or leave them in the English and History office for us to collect.

Academic Interests

As my readers probably already know, one of my passions is Employment and Employability ect. as I feel it is the most important part of life, and it hits me when I see others (on TV documentaries and / or in real life) suffer because of Unemployment. Henceforth, this year I will integrate this passion with some of my academic work this year – there’s nothing set in stone yet, but for the Music And The Moving Image module this semester I am considering writing about how music is used within Poverty Porn (“Benefits Street”, “We Pay All Your Benefits” ect.) to represent Unemployed persons… For this post, I am going to talk about some of the Academic Interests I have developed while at University so far – In order for my course work to shine (in my mind) I blend the set outlines with other subject matter that I am passionate about.

– J-pop

The most recent interest is the Japanese Music Industry – I am interested in how musicians compete (in my opinion, there’s not a great deal of money in the Arts), and since Japan currently has the 2nd largest music market country wise, and Asia has the 1st largest music market continent wise, theoretically the music industry in Japan has the hardest time trying to stay afloat due to extreme competition from domestic and neighbouring overseas markets. It is the unique and innovative ways that industry uses that intrigues me – I recently wrote an essay about some of their notable sustainability techniques.

Video: Japanese super group Morning Musume – The J-pop version of Doctor Who. In order to stay fresh, the group “regenerates” as certain current members are dropped and new members join.

– Business Innovation and Sustainability

I am also interested in how business practice can think outside of the box to benefit itself culturally and economically. Business of course surrounds us in nearly every possibly way – from the software being used to write this post to the hardware you are using to view it and beyond, and as someone who runs a business project (a record label), I am wanting to find out more about how entrepreneurs come up with new ways of creating capital as there are many ways to move forward.

– Popular Culture

Of course business only works if their products and / or service sells well. While I am interested in how something can be “popular”, this is the most broad of my interests and the most challenging. There are about six sections in the library dedicated to cultural studies (excluding exclusive Sociology), which goes to show that there are a million and one ways to analyse what makes something (generalisation alert) interesting to the masses and what does not.

My degree is mainly an academic one and I realise not all degrees are like that, however I am still happy that I can explore and maybe blend certain disciplines to inform my research. I’m frankly a little skeptical as to how academia (essays and presentations) can help you get a job outside academia, but then again it’s common knowledge that graduate level jobs require you to write loads and regularly do presentations so I suppose a degree is good preparation for that stuff.