Latest blog posts from students

MakeTank Game Design Project

By Emma Anderson, currently studying the MA Creativity: Innovation and Business Strategy programme

Being a part-time student has many perks: more time to think about your dissertation proposal, a lighter workload, and time to develop a career as you study. However, it also means you must wait impatiently for some of the most exciting modules on your course to come around. For me, the Ideas, Generation, the Creation Process, and Value Chain Models module was just that. The EAFM002 students were asked to create a game to help develop value chain models and ideation processes for a local company. The local companies collaborating with the module were NGNG, RAAM, Red Panda, Book Cycle, and Hyde and Seek. At the end of the module students were asked to use the Maketank in Exeter to host an open event to share their ideas to the local businesses and community. A few weeks later, on the 26th of November, they were asked to share their ideas again for marking.

The concept of game design creation and studying a module that champions ‘fun’ and ‘play’ seemed idyllic to me. I took the time to head over to Maketank to look at the creative space, talk to my fellow classmates, and have a sneak preview of the work, I too, would be undertaking within the next academic year.

With one day to go until the open event the creative exhibition space was buzzing with energy. Caffeine-fuelled students debated over final details, painted logos on the walls, and sketched out conclusive designs. Many of my classmates were keen to show me what they had been working on: extensive PowerPoint presentations with over 60 different animations to create a game proto-type, professional logos, and sleek branding.

The Maketank space itself uses an empty shop front on Paris St. The downstairs is sometimes used as a rehearsal space for the local theatre community. The upstairs is a playground for MA students. The smell of paint pens permeates the air. The chorus of business chatter bounces off the walls. Artists lamps illuminate hurried sketches.

I asked my classmate Lynda to share some of her thoughts on the module. When asked what the space was being used for, she explained that they were “…helping local businesses improve by designing a game to improve the business by creating a value chain”. Over the sounds of hammering and typing she said “We are using a creative workspace to collaborate together… here there is an entire open space where you can play, have fun, and be creative… if you are working in an open space, sometimes a bit of distraction is good… a good surprising outcome will come”. Her concluding statement on the module was “I would definitely recommend this course to other students because we are having fun every day and we are learning new things every day and we collaborate with different people from different disciplines. After finishing a session, you go home and reflect on the day and you realise what you have gained. You gain so much from it without realising you are; through the process of having fun”.

I also spoke with module leader Olya Petrakova about her thoughts on how the module had been to run for the first time: “Everything is a process of development, the module will develop and improve, this is our own process of prototyping and seeing how we develop it. We put a lot into this module”. When asked how students were responding to the module, she said “They are brave, and they are I think very courageous because learning about being creative means embracing being uncomfortable sometimes.”

That evening the students opened up Maketank to local businesses and Exeter’s community. Trust and respect are thrust up the students and in response they interact with the task at hand and with Exeter and its citizens. In this way, the module shows a level of maturity and sophistication I hadn’t experience during my undergraduate degree.

EAFM002 is a hands-on stepping-stone module to several different careers managing, curating, and creating within the arts. It offers a real-life practical scenario in which students are given the opportunity to organise and pitch their ideations. It appeared to me like living the kind of career I want to be involved in then I finish my MA. It is for this reason that I wait with anticipation to act out my own dream job by participating in this module.

Olya Petrakova and Michael Pearce pose during work in progress at Maketank

Olya runs the module at Maketank with Michael Pearce, senior lecturer in the Drama Department at the university. Olya was happy for me to share her picture with David in the creative space in front of one group of students work in progress.

   February 25th, 2020    Miscellaneous

Let me Introduce Myself…

So this is my first post for the University of Exeter! It’s my hope to connect with some students, who, perhaps like me are older than the average student age group, or for other reasons find it a little daunting integrating into Uni life. Over forty (but not over the hill) – suddenly life seems very short, but the crazy idea to go back into studying was the best idea I had heading towards fifty! Also, I think as you mellow into your mature years you realise your options are not something that you have masses of time to mull over, and you really value this chance. My life is quite full, aside from study I have volunteer work in film, plus part-time work and I try to keep up with promoting myself as a freelance photographer and filmmaker (why are we never great at promoting ourselves I wonder? I guess that’s why there are agencies…hmm).

Graduation BA Photography 2019 – a very proud moment

I don’t spend a lot of time on campus, as a part-timer, but I really love to be sociable when I’m there – I joined three societies in the first week, – The Mature Student Society, The Post-Graduate Society and Lightbox, and I attended the postgraduate welcome dinner, from which I have found a firm friend. As yet I haven’t made it to many socials, but I’m glad that I did on the ones I did go to. I like to go to the Ram for a Friday early evening beer and ‘decompress’ with my friend Ricky, before catching my train back to Totnes.
I love to mix with all age groups, and nationalities; age is not a barrier to me, although I think other people wonder when will I grow up??
I spent a lot of my life travelling, I lived in Spain and Argentina, never married or had children, so now is the ideal time for me to study without any ties – also it’s never too late! (I know, there is the cat, but that’s another story!)

The cheeky little ‘monkey’

I would love to hear from other students, mature or otherwise, who maybe live outside Exeter and for one reason or another don’t spend much time on campus. I think it’s essential to be able to offer support, to be a friendly face or even just to say ‘hi’ and have a five minute catch up. Seriously, days can go by without talking to anyone when studying from home – I do talk incessantly to my cat – she knows a lot of stuff about film now… !
I wrote a blog at my last Uni called ‘Musings of a Mature Student’ – maybe I’ll keep that title? So in short, my posts will be about my course (that’s why I’m here after all) – and how I juggle my studies with everyday life, but I will also share my experiences of my hobbies and interests which enrich my life, and by default also my studies. It’s going to be fun to write about the things I’m passionate about, and also to hear from like-minded souls or find new ideas!
So I hope my journey inspires other mature students out there, if I can do it, anyone can!

Topics To come:
What – I get to watch movies as part of my Master’s?

Why I eat Keto- it’s Good for the Brain as well as the Body

Tango Passion in the Heart of Devon

   February 24th, 2020    Higher Education, Lifestyle, Miscellaneous, Postgraduate     , , , ,

Tips on essay writing for International students

By Feilin Liu, MA Translation Studies

Most students struggle with their essay writing when stepping up to university, especially international students like myself. There are different thinking modes and writing methods in different cultures. For example, critical thinking, one of the basic and core requirements, is one that I feel I am lacking in. So how to write a high-quality essay becomes a common important problem for a large number of students. Although I’m still among this group, I’ve found some useful ways to improve my essay writing skills which Id like to share with you.


  • Be well prepared with your IELTS writing test

This is for international students who need to take the IELTS test for language entry requirements. Some students may regard it as just an exam and try to use shortcuts to pass it. In fact, IELTS writing will help you adjust to academic writing in university. Many methods of IELTS writing are just the same as those for academic writing, such as the introduction-main body-conclusion structure.


  • Familiarise yourself with the marking criteria

Always check the marking criteria before you write an essay. This may be uploaded by your tutor at the beginning of the term and it tells you exactly what is expected in your essay and how it should be presented. You can find out the differences between different grade levels and this will help you better understand the requirements.


  • Make the most use of Study Zone Digital

There are many useful resources on our university website, one of which is the Study Zone Digital, There is an ocean of resources to help you with your academic skills, not only for essay writing ( but also about reading strategies, note-taking skills as well as presentation skills, all of which are very useful for your studies. Enjoy exploring it.


  • Book a 1-1 appointment

You can either submit a form online ( or drop in to the Study Zone to request a 1-1 appointment with a Study Skill Adviser to give you some tailored advice. They offer advice on various aspects of study, and you can even have them proofread your finished work (only about the structure, grammar, format things). And there is no limit to the amount of appointments you can request, which is good news for me.

  • Writing Cafés as drop-in sessions

You need to book a 1-1 appointment in advance, but what if you have an emergency problem? Don’t worry, Writing Cafes will help. They run every Tuesday and Thursday between 13:00-16:00 in the Study Zone in Forum, where you can take advantage of a Study Skills Adviser to ask specific questions about your writing. You can either go there alone or with your friends or study groups if necessary.


  • Use feedback from your commented essays

This is quite helpful for your writing skills, as the old saying goes, failure is the mother of success. You can use the feedback to create a checklist of your frequent mistakes. You can also ask your tutor responsible for the particular module or the Study Skills Adviser mentioned above for more detailed feedback.

  • Recommended reading provided

I’ve no idea of the learning mode of undergraduates, however, as postgraduates, we have limited hours of class time with our teachers, which means we need to study on our own most of the time. Nevertheless, our tutors always recommend and upload a lot of reading materials for us, most of which are great essay models for us to learn from, journals and articles published in recent years in particular. One advantage of these is that they are good examples specific to your subject area. What a treasure!


Here are all the tips I have gathered so far while studying at Exeter. I hope they can also be useful and helpful to you. Good luck with your essay writing!

   February 19th, 2020    Miscellaneous

Recounting Term One

Moving to Cornwall from India has so far been a tremendous journey. On 14th of Sept 2019, I landed at the London Heathrow Airport looking forward to my journey to Cornwall on the airport pick up service organised by the University. With the luggage put into the storage compartment below I boarded the bus and picked out a window seat to enjoy the journey to Cornwall, a few minutes later, a girl asked if she could occupy the seat next to me and soon enough we got talking about the courses we are going to be studying, where we are from and of course about the weather. Little did I know on that day that this person would turn out to become one of my first and most comforting friends. I was lucky enough to meet another person too during the journey, outgoing and bubbly would be an understatement for her, we both were the only ones shivering in the late September wind and already disliking the weather.

The weeks that followed are pretty much a blur when I try to recount those initial first weeks of college. I was swarmed with reading material and managed to read the wrong articles for one class! It was as if in a dream, the weeks passed by quickly, I made more friends and landed up with the liveliest bunch. We are a group of international students who met through different events hosted during fresher’s week and of course the two friends I met on the bus. As foodies with similar allergies, we agreed on hosting each other when possible and cooking an authentic meal. I got to try some of the best home recipes from Switzerland, Germany, Russia, South Africa and Jamaica.

During mid-term, I was facing a personal crisis when I had to put my dog to sleep, not being able to see her in person and getting to say my final goodbye broke my heart. The only way I was able to cope with the loss was thanks to this supportive group of friends’ I’d made and a couple of my classmates. These guys taught me that it is ok to be down and ask for help and there is absolutely no shame in crying during class.

End of the term now, Christmas around the corner and a series of submissions had me grappling around to get my assignments done without getting sucked into the Christmas celebrations. With all the submissions and presentation finally done, it was also time to bid farewell to the first friend I had made here. Being an exchange student for a term, it was time for her to go back to her home college. But we decided to do one last adventure before it was time to leave.

After attending the Christmas Market in Falmouth, we went to Exeter to explore the city and see our main campus. Two days were packed with walking around town and exploring all that the city had to offer. From here I headed to Bristol and Bath, it has always been a dream of mine to visit Bath and explore the famous Roman Baths. So, off I went from Exeter to my first stop – Bristol, eager to explore Banksy’s art around the city. I must say, it was rather underwhelming for me as architecture has always outweighed art for me. The city, the cathedrals and the Temple Meads Station, however, were just awe-inspiring.

The main take away from this term has been about independence. Before coming here, I could not wait to be living by myself, when I got here, the experience had been slightly daunting. With a fun bunch of friends, a part-time job and volunteering my time at a heritage site, my experiences have all added to my becoming a more independent and free-spirited person than I was before I started university.

   February 19th, 2020    Cornwall, International, Miscellaneous, Penryn Campus, Postgraduate

Tips for the First Term

It still seems hard to believe that I have already completed a term in college. With a masters degree, I seem to always be on my feet trying to finish one reading list after the other. Before I could even feel settled, I had to start writing assignments, finding a work placement and acclimating to the weather. Here are the few things that really helped in sailing through the term:

1. Having a supportive group of friends:
I was fortunate enough to make some lovely friends from the day I landed at Heathrow Airport. As time passed, we became a strong bunch from different areas of study and nationalities who are always there for each other when the going got tough for any of us. We are a group of 6 who decided to meet whenever possible and cook authentic meals from our county, this little outing once a month got me away from the monotonous routine of study and college.

2. Volunteering:
Studying heritage management here, I decided to take up volunteering at one of the heritage sites in Falmouth. The experience has been very enriching, to say the least. Volunteering at the Pendennis Castle, I have the opportunity to meet new people every week, I have gained a few insights into the history of Cornwall from the locals and been lucky enough to hear Cornish Carlos during Christmas celebration.

3. Reach out to your professors:
The teaching system in India is very different from here, there is always a wall between the students and the teachers and never an open communication. My professors have so far been so approachable and friendly, anytime I feel overwhelmed with any of my assignments I have emailed them or arranged for office hours and they have responded immediately and helped as much as possible to solve my problems.

4. Have fun:
Take time out from your studies and go out with your friends, flatmates or just by yourself. There is so much to explore around you besides the campus. Getting some fresh air has always helped me clear my mind and stay more focused on my studies. There are many societies and events that you can participate in. I attended two excursions organized by Reslife one to the Seal Sanctuary and another to the Eden Project, both have been an amazing experience.

   February 19th, 2020    Cornwall, International, Lifestyle, Miscellaneous, Postgraduate, Studying

Mind Over Natter: lunchtime wellbeing sessions

Mind Over Natter

The ‘Mind Over Natter’ talks are a series of lunchtime wellbeing sessions, taking place on regular Wednesdays at 12.45pm. Each session will address a different topic with a different speaker, providing advice and understanding for how students and staff can manage their own wellbeing. Please contact us if you have an idea for one of the sessions or know someone who would keen to run a talk themselves. Wellbeing counsellor, Kathy O’Connor, led the way as our first speaker.


“Learn what works for you and take small steps towards achieving it” – Kathy O’Connor

In this ‘Mind Over Natter’ talk, Kathy looks at the well-known tactics for achieving the mentally and physically healthiest version of ourselves, but addresses why, despite knowing these, we still struggle to apply them. As with any good advice, Kathy provides a couple of anagrams to help us remember simple ways to make wellbeing efforts work.

Come to T.E.R.M.S. with it

Kathy begins with recommending the 5 steps that will help you to look after yourself properly:

Talk                 Talk to others, don’t internalise your problems

Eat                   A healthy diet equals a healthy body and mind

Relax               Set aside time to properly relax and do something you enjoy

Move               Exercise gives you energy and endorphins and reduces stress

Sleep               Give your body time to recover with 7 – 9 hours’ sleep each night

Kathy asks the room, after each step, who knows that this is key to a healthy and positive wellbeing: every hand goes up. She then asks us if we put this into practice every day; if we always talk about our problems, always eat well, always get lots of sleep. Unsurprisingly, most of the hands then go down. This is the problem Kathy addresses in her talk with reference to wellbeing. Most of us know what we should be doing to help ourselves, but life frequently gets in the way. Family, work, and time commitments often means that our mental and physical wellbeing gets looked over and pushed aside.

That doesn’t mean it is hopeless or that you shouldn’t even try, and Kathy suggests that achieving your goals comes down to a connection between self-awareness and self-care. If we take time to understand our motives (i.e. for becoming more active) as well as our limitations, then we can take that step closer to our goal.

Small Steps and S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Kathy recommends taking the SMART approach to assigning yourself a goal in order to get the most out of it. Her version of the anagram calls for goals to be:



Adaptive & Achievable,



With regards to these we should be thinking about why we want to achieve the goal we are setting and ensure that we are attempting it for our own reasons rather trying to meet the expectations of others. Kathy advises that in order to get the best out of ourselves we need to question what we want, what makes us happy, and what kind of person we are trying to be.

If a goal is not achievable, it does not mean you have failed, Kathy explains. She encourages people who find that they have hit this wall, to recognise your limitations and dial their goal back to something that is not going to be limited by health issues or strict time constraints. Small steps will be more successful that large, sudden changes.

“Small steps ripple outwards”


If you are looking for ways to begin applying some of Kathy’s tips, she lists a variety of local or virtual options for you. They are perfect ways to put the wellbeing T.E.R.M.S. into practice, offering opportunities for talking to people, mindfulness and exercise, relaxing, and more.

Find more outlets and opportunities on the wellbeing and ‘Mind Over Natter’ webpages.

   February 13th, 2020    Life on Campus, Lifestyle, Miscellaneous

MA Creativity: Innovation and Business Strategy Falmouth Intensive

By Emma Anderson, studying MA Creativity: Innovation and Business Strategy

Between the 12th and 14th of November the MA Creativity: Innovation and Business Strategy students set off in pursuit of an intensive networking project in Falmouth. The intensive would involve working alongside Falmouth MA students to impress the likes of Tate St Ives, Seasalt, Stranger Collective, and Fiffteen Cornwall. In just two days they had to answer their given project brief with a pitch with enough professionalism to impress their assigned business. At the prospect of bagging a potential placement opportunity in April should their work impress, the students set about collaborating on the brief in hand. This is my journal blog documenting my experience as one of the MA Creativity students.

Module convenor: Anna Kiernan, gives an introductory lecture explaining the brief.

November 12th ~ On Arrival: We arrive at the Falmouth Backpackers Lodge late in the evening after a gruelling 3-hour train journey. Luckily, the anticipation of working with such prestigious industries tomorrow keeps spirits high. We settle in, have a look around town, and head to bed early enough to ensure we’re fresh faced to begin our assigned briefs at the Penryn campus in the morning.

November 13th ~ The Morning Orientation Lecture: My course mates and I head up to Penryn Campus by taxi for 10.30. After a quick coffee in the Koofi café we find a seat in Peter Lanyon lecture theatre 3 for our briefing. We are divided into groups and allocated a chosen business to present our pitch to in response to their set brief. Our deadline was three o’clock the following day. Representatives from each organisation make their way up to the podium. I find myself writing notes about all the businesses that come forwards, even the one’s I won’t be working with. My fellow course mate beside me asks why I am taking so many notes. “Because I want to think about responses to these briefs in my own time” I explain. The briefs all feel so current, relevant, and unique that I know I’ll be discussing them later that evening at the networking event.

November 13th ~ After a quick lunch break: I meet up with my assigned team after talking with Lauren Hogan from Tate St Ives about details of the brief. She is looking to attract locals to the gallery as well as find a way to make the gallery more easily accessible for visitors. After introducing myself to my teammates from the Falmouth MA we divided our team into two and began our ideation processes. After bouncing some ideas off one another and making mood boards and mini presentations, each half of our team presents their ideas to the other. A scribe jots down the responses to each mini presentation and we eventually find ourselves picking the best bits of all the ideas we generate. We come to an agreement on what our main pitch concept should be and decide to get working on presenting it alongside our ideation process tomorrow morning.

The Exeter and Falmouth teams work on dissecting the brief.

November 13th ~ The evening networking event: I freshen up at the Falmouth Backpackers Lodge and head out to the Palacio Lounge with my course mates. The entire upstairs area of the restaurant/ tapas bar has been dedicated to our networking event. I take pictures with my course mates and enjoy the complimentary wine and tapas. In this more relaxed environment, I feel comfortable enough to chat more openly with some of my fellow Falmouth MA team members and exchange business cards with a few. I reflect on the brief by chatting with other groups and asking how their response is developing. The networking event was an ingenious way to break the ice with fellow entrepreneurs. Some of my course mates find themselves making connections they would otherwise never have made.

November 14th ~ An early breakfast: I rise early to meet my team for breakfast in Penryn and get finalising and defining our proposal. I enjoy eggs and avocado on sourdough bread from a local coffee shop near Gray’s Wharf; an art gallery where we hope to liaise with Lauren Hogan before working on the visuals for our pitch. Gray’s Wharf is filled with local artist’s work and helps the Exeter university students unfamiliar with Cornwall artwork understand the connection the art has with the landscape and community. It also helps us to understand the huge significance of Cornish art to locals and wider audiences. By engaging with the artwork, those unfamiliar with the Cornish aesthetic were more able to understand how to tackle the Tate St Ives brief.

My team seek inspiration at the Gray’s Wharf gallery in Penryn.

The team at Gray’s Wharf gallery, Penryn.











November 14th ~ The pitch: My team returned to the Penryn campus after our Gray’s Wharf excursion and began assigning roles to get our visuals and preparation for the presentation underway. At three o’clock we began presenting our responses to the rest of our cohort. The first to present were the team for Seasalt who came up with ways of working with the growing vintage market and tackling the environmental fears surrounding the fashion industry that would prevent customers from shopping with Seasalt. Designs, logos, and taglines were presented in the pitch leaving the Tate team feeling as though they had a tough act to follow. I went up to present with my team next. Lauren Hogan responded with feedback directly and our ideas were taken on board successfully. The following two teams responded to their briefs in Exchange Yellow with ideas for developing the business space and work environment as well as drawing fresh footfall. All briefs were responded to innovatively and presented professionally. I felt as though I was part of a creative team for a real business within the creative industries. In a nutshell the Falmouth trip was a simulation of the kind of fast-paced and challenging environment a budding entrepreneur would run with in their everyday lives.

   February 11th, 2020    Miscellaneous

What is the Point in Studying Ancient History, Seriously?!

When I tell people which MA programme I’m studying I am always challenged on my reasons for wanting to study the ancient world. I get the same old “but it is so long ago” or “Latin is a dead language, what is the point?” from many of my mates and from people I meet along the path of life. So, let’s answer this question…

The classics and the ancient world have such a big influence on modern life yet so many people do not realise it. We are so wrapped up in our world of digital content and technology that we seem to forget our roots. We take for granted simple things such as a clean and constant water supply, toilets, sewage systems, baths. On a more political note, we are luckily part of a free speaking democratic state, something not all countries have. Our language itself did not just appear out of the blue. Many of the words we write, speak, and read have ancient origins from both Greece and Rome. I have played on these points for a reason, they ALL derive from the ancients. So much of what we have in our modern life would not be here if the Greeks or Romans had not thought of the idea first, we owe them a great deal. For that reason alone I feel a sense of responsibility to keep their memory alive and help tell their tales of old. My job, which I have set upon myself, is to understand the many aspects of the ancient world and deliver my findings in a way that will benefit the people I relay the information to.

This little blog post will not serve as a history lecture, don’t worry! I just want to make people aware of why we still continue to look to the past, and how important it is that more students take on this same responsibility. This stigma rises from early on as so few students have any sort of exposure to the classics at school. This needs to change! The classics is seen as an exclusive subject, only studied by those rich enough to afford a private education, and also is a world dominated by men. Both of these statements have been true to a certain extent but now are beginning to change. There are a number of excellent female Classicists contributing widely to the academic world that should not be overlooked, Mary Beard being one of them. More recently, there have been groups looking to expand the teaching of the ancient world into our state school system which would be a great way of getting the exposure it needs and helping discover a new generation of Classical Historians. So, with work, we can look to inspire new students into the profession and therefore salvaging the subject. The stigmas attached to it need to be dropped in order to help this, and the benefits and enjoyment someone can get out of the subject need to be promoted.

Okay, so you’ve studied the ancient world and now you want a job. Do you HAVE to be a teacher/academic/museum curator? No. Again, another stereo-type that needs busting. There have been numerous people who have studied the classics that have gone on to be employed in a number of different fields, and some have even ended up in the public limelight! Popular careers include Law, Politics, and jobs within the Private Sector. Look at our wonderful Prime Minister for example, a Classicist in school, but now the leader of a country. Okay maybe don’t aspire to be him, but it shows you can dream big. Take Tom Hiddleston as another example. He’s a hugely popular British actor who has played some big roles, Loki in The Avengers being a prominent one. He was a Classicist for much of his youth and through higher education, achieving a double first at University. Just because you study it does not mean you are confined to it in the workplace, there are options.

I think that is where I will leave this first blog post. As you can probably tell, I’m pretty passionate about my subject and want people to know more about it! If you do want to read further into some of the points I have made then I’ll provide some links below.

Classics For All –

Boris and The Classics –

About my course –


   February 11th, 2020    Careers, Higher Education, Lectures and Seminars, Miscellaneous, Postgraduate, Undergraduate     , , , , ,

Getting into the Film Business: Networking 101

What is networking? Why is it so important?

I remember the first day we started the MAIFB courses, our programme director, Professor Will Higbee, stressed the importance of networking to us. I had no idea what networking was at that time.

According to Google, networking is the exchange of information and ideas among people with a common professional or special interest, usually in an informal social setting. Well, in film business, you will often come across networking in film screenings, festivals, film markets, and after-parties as well. On these occasions, the room is always filled with cinephiles, filmmakers or people working in other areas of the industry. If you’re interested in someone’s work or knowledge, it’s the chance for you to talk to them under these circumstances. Most of them would like to have this informal talk with you or exchange the information you want.

Networking is the common way people meet each other and expand their personal networks in film business. As a producer, that could be the way for you to find your investor and fund provider. Or as a film sales person, that could also be the way to find your next buyer. So as a film business student ourselves, it’s extremely important for us to know how to network with people. It’s the thing we need to face every day in our future professional career.

On-set photo from the filming of my latest short film

Where should I start?

So basically, networking is talking to a stranger in a certain environment. Sounds very scary, right? Although I love to talk to people, talking to strangers freaks me out. Especially when having English as my second language, it makes networking an even bigger challenge.

Luckily, the MAIFB programme arranges a series of courses and networking events for us to get used to this process. We had a networking dinner with MA Creativity students and some tutors during the induction, pushing us into this networking thing at the very beginning. To be honest, I was terrified confronting these many strangers at a dinner, since it was my first week in the UK and I was still getting used to the English-speaking environment. Although I’ve only met my classmates for two days, we just stuck with each other as they were the only people I was familiar with at that time. However, that was not what we were here for. We were forced to be separated and talk to the people we didn’t know. It was kind of uncomfortable for me from the beginning, but as soon as I started talking, I found it was not that hard. Everyone came from different cultural backgrounds, and some of them came from the countries I knew very little of. It was fun getting to know their stories. And it was good to know what other programmes are doing in order to have future cooperation. As for the language part, English is not the first language for most people in the room, so we were all listening to each other patiently. The native speakers also showed great support, which I really appreciated.

Later during the courses, we had industry tutors came in and taught us some useful skills in networking. Those were very practical courses to learn from. I’m glad that we have something like these to help us get the hang of networking.

Networking event during induction with MA Creativity students

Some tips for networking

As a beginner in networking, I’m going to share some personal tips that help me doing networking:

  • Be mentally prepared, don’t be afraid to talk.

Yes, it’s scary. And it makes me nervous. But as long as you’re mentally ready to talk, you’ll tell yourself to do it. You can start with complimenting others, which will easily move onto a conversation. Don’t have too much pressure on yourself. It’s just talking, what’s the worst thing that could happen?

  • If possible, prepare your business card in advance.

I had my business card ready before coming to the UK. As a student, I simply put in my course name and studying level (MA). I also included my LinkedIn and Instagram account, which display my past works.

It proves to be a useful conversation starter. I met one of my favorite directors Anthony Chen, who won Caméra d’Or with his debut feature Ilo Ilo, at a screening in London. He happened to be sitting right next to me and I decided to say hi and introduce myself. When I gave him my card, he was quite interested in my courses and asked me for some details. I met him again the other week after the screening of his new feature Wet Season. That time I was able to have a further discussion with him about his films.

  • Smile and listen.

Being polite to everyone is the most important thing. Good manner is always welcome and people like a good listener. It will help you give a good impression.

  • Get practice!

As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. That’s true. The more networking you do, the more experienced you will become. Do the research and find out who will be attending the same event as you do, then try to grab them and have this casual conversation. You’ll find yourself gradually getting it as you go.

I’m totally new and was bad at networking before coming to the UK. But with the help and support from MAIFB courses, I feel like I’m not that stressed doing networking anymore. So, I hope these tips could give you some help. Good luck with your next networking event!

My friend and me at a networking event during FIRST International Film Festival


   December 17th, 2019    Careers, Lectures and Seminars, MA International Film Business, Miscellaneous, Postgraduate, Studying

A day in my daily life as a uni student of Exeter

By Feilin Liu, from China, studying MA Translation Studies

I have been a student at the University of Exeter for two months, and I’m gonna talk about my typical day here.

As a postgraduate student working on MA Translation Studies, in general, I mostly have classes on Wednesday and Thursday in the first term. Therefore, I have plenty of time to arrange myself. But if you think this means I have lots of time to hang out with my friends or even travel around, you are totally wrong. That’s because we have non-stop readings and assignments to finish. It is really busy for me as an international student studying abroad for the first time. Therefore, I’ve spent most of my time in the library (I’ll tell you how much I love the library in St Luke’s library in my next blog maybe) in my spare time.

My to-do list in 1st term

Now, I’ll show you my timetable on a normal day with no lectures and workshops.

My breakfast


7:00-8:00 a.m.: Get up and prepare my breakfast (usually a cup of milky tea and a sandwich both made by myself).

8:00-8:30 (sometimes 9:00) a.m.: Have breakfast, browse Weibo (Chinese equivalence of Twitter) and WeChat (main Chinese social media) moments, etc. I like to get to know what’s happening in the world and around you know.

the booth in St Luke’s library

9:00-12:30 a.m.: Start studying. Work on my readings and assignments (this always makes me crazy .) I like to use the Forest app to help me concentrate.

a screenshot of Forest

12:30-14:00 p.m.: Have lunch. Sometimes a sandwich, sometimes go back home and make a quick lunch. Have a short rest.

14:00-18:00 p.m.: Continue studying…

18:00 p.m.-00:00 a.m.: Have dinner. I always have some Chinese food at home (maybe there will be a blog about this too). Binge watching on Bilibili (video sharing website popular among the young), talk with my friends, etc. This is my happiest time of day. BUT! Sometimes when there is an assignment due around the corner, I have to go back to the library again. I then go back home at around 10 p.m.).

00:00 a.m.: Go to bed. I’m wondering if I should go to sleep a little earlier…



That’s my whole day here most of the time. Maybe it sounds a little boring, but I really enjoy it (except for the deadline time).

   December 15th, 2019    International, Life on Campus, Postgraduate, Studying abroad

Christmas chaos; balancing academic commitments and social pursuits

Christmas – a season for celebration, relaxation and spending time with family and friends – can often seem incompatible with the demands of being a university student. With coursework deadlines looming and January exams to prepare for, finding solace during the Christmas period can be incredibly challenging. However, that’s not to say that it’s impossible. Finding a balance between your academic commitments and Christmas fun will only strengthen your ability to excel in the former and enjoy the latter guilt-free.

As someone who used to believe that spending my whole day working was the only way to excel academically; I cannot stress enough how misguided this can be. Research has shown that the secret to increased productivity is taking time off. This is because continuous time spent on-task can actually set off strain reactions, such as stress, fatigue and a negative mood. So whilst you should give yourself enough time to complete your assignments, Christmas provides the perfect excuse to prioritise some occasional down-time away from academia.

So, what to do when you’re not working? Arranging a Christmas dinner with some of your closest friends can be a great place to start. It doesn’t matter if you’re not celebrating the religious elements of the season, or don’t particularly fancy roast turkey, simply choose your own menu and location and take the opportunity to relax with your friends before term is out. You could take the afternoon off and head down to Exeter’s Christmas market, grab a coffee on campus with a coursemate, or make a weekend plan to venture out of Exeter and soak up the countryside.

There is of course a tension: whilst you can spend time with university friends during the first couple of weeks of the festive season, this can often be at the expense of keeping in touch with family and friends back home. It can sometimes seem strange that during Christmas, a traditionally family-orientated time, you’re spending half of the season hundreds of miles away from them. So why not pick up the phone and reach out to a family member or a friend from school? Ask them about their Christmas plans, share your academic anxieties, and remind them that you’re looking forward to catching up with them soon. Sometimes, a little reassurance is all it takes.

Please don’t let my suggestions swamp you. All I’m saying is that you need to balance your academic workload with some fun over the Christmas season. You’ve worked hard all term so reward yourself with some down time and you’ll feel much more refreshed when January comes.

   December 12th, 2019    Miscellaneous

Your academic interests – represented

SSLCs – I’ve got a hunch that most students at Exeter wouldn’t be able to tell you what the acronym stands for, let alone what the bodies are actually responsible for. Yet, Student-Staff Liaison Committees are one of the cornerstones to ensuring that the student experience at Exeter is continuously enhanced and improved wherever necessary.

So, who are they, and what do they actually do? Student-Staff Liaison Committees are made up of a handful of student Academic Representatives, a Subject Chair, and a discipline’s Director of Education. Meeting at least once a term, Academic Representatives are charged with putting forward praise and/or concerns from their peers about their academic experiences. The aim is simple: to reach a positive outcome for all students. Admittedly, whilst that may sound a little opaque, SSLCs work tirelessly to ensure that students’ concerns are addressed and remedied wherever possible; often by seeking clarifications on methods of assessment, suggesting improvements to specific modules, or highlighting areas in which a department could improve in its engagement with students.

To delve a little deeper, I recently sat down with Filipa Torres, a third-year International Relations student who currently serves as Subject Chair to the Politics SSLC. Initially answering “what don’t we do?!” in response to a question about what the role entails, she provided the following summary of a Subject Chair’s responsibilities.

“A Subject Chair is the contact point between the student reps, the student population as a whole, and the department. I attend meetings, write agendas, keep up with the feedback that student reps are reporting, and engage with lecturers.”

Filipa’s duties are primarily carried out during meetings of the SSLC. From my experience as an Academic Representative, these meetings are thoroughly productive and worthwhile. On chatting to Max Jablonowski, a second-year International Relations Representative, he too described the meetings in a similar fashion.

“The meetings are very chilled. We discuss any questions, the Director of Education comes along, and there’s no pressure whatsoever; you can speak whenever you like, and you won’t be limited in what you do say.”

It’s important to remember that these meetings aren’t a forum for simply expressing negativity, but instead, they provide a unique opportunity to propose creative and innovative solutions to the issues that are raised.

One example of this is the recent creation of a Peer to Peer Mentoring Scheme within the Politics Department. Having received feedback from first-year students that they feel ill-prepared for January exams, the SSLC, in conjunction with the Politics Society and various members of staff, set about recruiting volunteer second and third years to lead workshops on exam technique. The scheme will begin piloting two sessions this December. This is just one case that highlights the positive change that can arise as a result of SSLC action.

So, if you’re not convinced of the good that SSLCs do on your behalf; get involved and stand for election to one when the next cohort is recruited. Or, take it from Max, who reflects that being on an SSLC has provided him with opportunities to “meet plenty of new people, allowing you to build greater relationships with staff and students”, Filipa, who stated that a lot of the satisfaction she draws from being in her position is that “you’re representing a lot of students, and that keeps you going”, or me, in that I wholeheartedly believe that they’re the best way to go about affecting academic change at Exeter.

In the meantime, be sure to reach out to one of your Academic Representatives if you have any concerns about your academic experiences at Exeter; we’re always willing to listen.

Alfie Dewdney

President, Exeter Politics Society  |  International Relations Academic Representative, Politics SSLC  |  Student Representative, Exeter Grand Challenges

   December 5th, 2019    Exams and Assessment, Lectures and Seminars, Miscellaneous, Studying, Undergraduate

The Christmas act

One of the hardest things about the Christmas period is that whilst there are so many deadlines and January exams to study for, this is also the time of year with the most festivities. It seems impossible to get it right; on the one hand, staying in and studying means you are doing your best in your degree. However, on the other hand, knowing friends will be getting mulled wine from the Christmas market while you sit inside on a dark, cold evening is enough to make you lose interest in working completely. With seasonal changes in light affecting mental health and overworking meaning you can be at risk of burnout or anxiety, getting the balance right is vital.

Here are some tips which I’ve found helpful in keeping on the right track.

1. Make sure that when you are studying, you are doing it effectively, and right
Understand the way that you work best. For me, waking up at a regular time and working in the morning is easiest – it’s when I have the greatest amount of energy, clarity and focus.

2. Establish a routine at the beginning of each week
Use a weekly planner – free online with a quick google search – and decide when you are going to work, what you are going to work on, and when you are going to stop and relax.

3. Don’t be overambitious
Be realistic about what you can actually get done in a day.

4. Pomodoro your way to greater focus
Human beings are incapable of focusing for large lengths of time without breaks, so try the Pomodoro technique. Set a timer for 25-40 minutes and work solidly. Take 5-10 minute breaks in between these chunks and step away from your laptop, make some tea, put up some decorations or do something else you enjoy.

5. Start your assignment today! 
We’ve all been there; a deadline feels like months away but before you know it there is only a week to go! Don’t be the person stuck indoors over Christmas because of deadline procrastination, get going now!

6. Eat that Frog! 
I use Brian Tracey’s Eat That Frog ABCD method to prioritise my work starting with the most important, scary tasks – the ‘A’s’, things you absolutely have to get done – all the way down to the ‘D’s’, bits which you could leave until later. You tackle the most horrible things at the beginning of the day when you have the most energy, and then that spurs you on to do the others. It also means if you don’t get the D, C, or even B tasks done, there is no guilt sucking your motivation the next day, and when you stop to enjoy coffee with a friend, you aren’t stressing about work.

7. 10 minute time trick
Struggling to get started? Just put on a timer for ten minutes and tell yourself that you will work steadily for just that tiny amount of time, no matter how terrible what you achieve is. Switch your phone off, close your door and do it. Telling yourself you just have ten minutes removes all the pressure of perfectionism, and before you know it, you’ll be pressing repeat on the timer and getting stuck in.

8. Don’t overwork

No matter what you might think, as long as you are doing your best that is enough. We are only human. Don’t completely cut out downtime just to get your deadlines in. Your mental health and wellbeing comes first…

If you need support now or over the holidays, speak to your lecturers or reach out to the Wellbeing team.

Written by Evanna Kappos, studying English Literature.

   December 5th, 2019    Exams and Assessment, Life on Campus, Miscellaneous, Studying, Undergraduate

Applying for the MA International Film Business programme: the timeline


The application process for Masters in International Film Business is not complicated, however, you should start a few months in advance. The good news is once you create your profile in the system it allows you to update each section at your own pace, go back and forth through the steps, and once you are satisfied and have completed it all then you can hit submit.

November – December Start filling the application form by first creating a user profile on the official website of the University. Make sure you read all the requirements. For the application process you will require these documents:

  •  A motivation letter
  • An updated CV
  • Official documents from your undergraduate
  • Proof of English Proficiency (international students whose native language is not English are required to take either the TOEFL or the IELTS test). Bear in mind the specific score requested. (Depends on the type, of course, you are choosing to pursue)

January – Application Submission: Make sure you submit your application by January as the University will take time to make their decision.

February – Acceptance Letter: Once you are notified that you are accepted in the university (which is usually one month and a half later, in most cases) you need to think about accommodation. They will also ask for the deposit fee** (usually 1500 pounds-which will be adjusted with your tuition fee later), which will secure your offer. Try and arrange the funds as soon as possible.

March – Accommodation: It is hard to find accommodation since its a short term in Exeter and longer in London. It is advisable to apply in student accommodations/ INTO (accommodation offered by the university) around March and April. June Visa: You can apply for your visa 3 months before your date of travel. Since the course starts in September, you should be able to start applying for your visa in June. The process to apply for a visa, the visa getting approved and it coming back to you will take at least 2 months.

Make sure you have enough time to carry out the visa process carefully. Read the visa requirements carefully when you apply and make sure you prepare all the necessary documents beforehand.

August – Pack: Start packing and get ready to leave! It is almost time, and by now you should start preparing all the things you want to carry from home.

**In case you are a Chevening scholar, you may be exempt from paying the deposit fee. You can request them to secure your offer and exempt you from paying it immediately.

For Chevening Scholarship Application Process:

July- September – Started application
February – First round – selected to interview
June – Conditionally selected

June – Finally awarded with the scholarship

Note: if you’re keen to apply to Chevening Scholarship, start with plenty of time and I mean give yourself enough time to do it. It’s a rigorous process, it’s long, it requires to write 4-5 essays, to answer questions wisely, so it can be definitely exhausting. Moreover, I strongly advise you that do not leave your submission to the last minute, so in any case, you experience any difficulties in uploading the documents you have time.



   September 11th, 2019    Miscellaneous

“Chevener one year but Chevening my whole life”

A dream comes true…

Suddenly there’s a day when all your effort is rewarded and you start receiving blessings. For me, it happened at 6 am on June 6th exactly when I got an email from Chevening saying “we are delighted to inform you that the selection panel was very impressed with your application and interview and have conditionally selected you for a 2018-19 Chevening Award”. I could not believe it was for real until I woke up in Exeter, UK, on September 13th. At that moment, I realised that my dream of studying in one of the best destinations on earth, United Kingdom, was becoming true. (more…)

   August 8th, 2019    Miscellaneous

Skip to toolbar