University of Portsmouth's History Blog

‘Take the time to explore new opportunities’: How to get the most out of your Second Year at Uni

If you are about to start your second year studying History, then Amelia Boddice can give you some great advice on how to get the most out of the year. Amelia is in her final year; for her BA Dissertation she will be working on a fascinating project on Elizabethan England.

I found the Second Year tough but ultimately rewarding. In particular I enjoyed the chance to select optional modules on topics which I like to study. There is plenty of choice so I could explore new topics and see whether I liked them or not. This also allowed me to work with people I had not previously worked with.

The seminar structure of the Second Year allowed me to build on skills which I had gained in the previous year but I could also focus on my interests as I could read articles which reflected my choices and interest. This meant I was passionate about the topics we discussed in class and this was ultimately reflected in the grades I achieved.

There is certainly an increase in pressure as the marks you get in this year count towards your final grade at the end of your studies. This is, however, made manageable because I found that the deadlines are spread out more evenly. This gives you the time to seek advice and provides you with the opportunity to organise any group work.

All this choice aids in the process of choosing a topic for your dissertation or major project – I found this very helpful. I took the time to discuss viable dissertation options with lecturers before ultimately deciding on a topic. The lecturers were more than happy to help! The resources provided on Moodle are very helpful too and make this process, which once seemed so scary, much more manageable.

There is a noticeable increase in workload but your contact hours will actually decreased. I used this time to make sure that I was looking after my wellbeing and was exploring the local area. It is important to find places where you enjoy going and which allow you to relax after completing your assignments. For example, I really enjoyed going to the Tenth Hole with my friends!

The additional time also meant that I could begin exploring career options as the university has valuable links with employers which you can use. I volunteered for The National Museum of the Royal Navy during my first year and in my second I took part in the Women’s Community Activism Project which was an oral history project. These connections meant that I discovered new interest and jobs that I would not have previously considered. Now, with the work experienced I have gained, I have a strong CV for when I go on to applying for jobs or post-graduate schemes.

The Second Year is very much like a bridge between the first and final year, a year during which you can take the time to explore new opportunities. Take this year to discover your interests and enjoy the course.

Good luck!

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