What does the end of a History degree look like?
I am only a couple of weeks away from the end of my degree, which is incredible! The last three years have absolutely flown by, and I can’t believe it’s all coming to an end already. Before I Iaunch into a nostalgic look back over my uni years, I thought I’d share an insight into what I’m up to at the moment. I’ve always been a bit apprehensive about finishing my degree — it always seemed like an intense, stressful, final sprint to graduation. I worried about it, and was never really sure what to expect. I’m writing in the middle of the finals period, so I can’t give it a full overview just yet, but hopefully this blog will shed some light on what the final month or so of my degree looks like.
The biggest chunk of this period for me has been the dissertation. As I discussed in my last blog, it is a big chunk of work, many months in the making. For us, it was due in Week 1 of Term 3, so it kicked off finals season. It was a big weight off my shoulders pressing ‘submit assignment’ a couple of weeks ago, because I knew that a quarter of my final year was complete. The dissertation had been running at the back of my mind for a long time, so while it felt a bit weird to switch it off at first, it was a great feeling to know that it was complete and could then concentrate fully on my next assignments.
Since COVID, a lot of our modules have leant towards coursework and away from exams. A couple of my modules are 90% coursework, 10% seminar participation. The coursework involves essays throughout the year, with the final one due in Term 3. For me, these have been 3,000 word essays. As with all essays, these require time to research and plan, which has been keeping me busy for the last couple of weeks! Having said that, this all feels quite familiar to me now. We’ve written our fair share of essays in the last three years, so it’s nice not to have anything new or scary thrown at us at this stage!
One of my modules has a ‘seven day take-home assessment,’ which were first introduced to replace exams during COVID. We’ll be given ten questions to choose from, and have to pick two to write 1,500 word essays on. We have a week to submit them. We’re told that they should take a similar amount of time to normal exams, so to only spend a few hours on them rather than the entire week. We did the same type of assessment last year, and I much preferred them to normal exams. I always found normal, formal exams quite stressful; trying to store facts in my brain then write a time-pressured essay was never very fun! These are more relaxed — we have more time, can use our notes, and don’t have to worry about remembering as much as I can. They’re more like normal essays, but like an exam, we aren’t expected to do loads of research. Instead, they’re about taking a holistic view of the module and drawing on the big themes from what you already know.
And then I’m done! As to be expected with the final assessments in a degree, it’s not a walk in the park, but it’s not as bad as I thought it would be! The deadlines have been quite nicely spread out for me, so while I’ve been busy, it’s been manageable. Of course, this varies depending on the modules you pick, and will vary massively between course, so take all of this with a pinch of salt. Wish me luck with my final assessments!