Queen Margaret UniversityMEET THE POSTGRADS: Charlotte Cranston (MA Arts, Festival and Cultural Management)

MEET THE POSTGRADS: Charlotte Cranston (MA Arts, Festival and Cultural Management)


Charlotte, can you introduce yourself and tell us how you came to QMU for your Master’s?

I’m in my first year studying for a Master’s in Arts, Festival and Cultural Management, which I started in September 2020.

“I’m originally from Canada and had a diploma and half an undergraduate degree in Sociology back at home. When I met the International team from QMU (during a visit they made) they offered for me to complete my Sociology undergraduate degree at Queen Margaret University in just one year, instead of the two required by my Canadian University, and then I would be able to stay on for my chosen Master’s subject.”

So what made you choose QMU as a place to study and the Master’s in Arts, Festival and Cultural Management, because it’s a course that is unique to us?

“Everything was about finding the right cultural fit for me, a place that was smaller where people would know my name. What attracted me also was that there is a partnership between my home university in Canada and QMU. We had Greig (Lawson – International Recruitment Manager) come and visit to talk to us about the programme and then I was able to do a two-week research trip here in Edinburgh back in 2018. I got to go to lectures, and we did a bunch of things like go to the Scottish Opera, go on all these amazing tours. I remember sitting in the classroom in the main floor of the QMU academic building thinking “Yes, this is it!””

Yes, there is so much to do in Edinburgh too, even if you spend your full undergraduate and postgraduate time here! You touched upon talking to our International Team before coming here and doing the research trip to find out what it might be like. Did you speak to anyone else at the University or attend any events before solidifying your decision to apply?

“Yes, I got to speak to a few of the lecturers in the Arts, Festival and Cultural Management programme through the research trip.”

So far in your postgraduate studies, is there a particular highlight? This past year’s obviously been a bit strange as you joined during the pandemic, but are there any highlights you want to share?

“I started this course in September (2020) so we didn’t have a lot of in-class time, but I think because we all knew that we had very little precious time together, that we weren’t going to go to the pub or hang out together, everyone really expedited the friendship! The thinking was: “Ok, you said something interesting in class, we’re friends now, we’re going to organise going for a walk together in three weeks’ time.” I found that to be really lovely.”

“Considering how much of the course has been distance learning online, we’re a pretty tight knit group. It helps that half of them are from Canada and I already knew everybody. I mean, I’ve also made new friends and many of them happen to live in the same part of Edinburgh as me and everyone’s been so open to making those relationships because we all get it, we know we’re not going to be meeting people any other way.”

Have you found that there have been challenges with your academic journey so far? If so, has the university been able to help you overcome them? Or have you taken steps yourself - obviously, this has been a particular year with the COVID-19 challenges.

“I think really the biggest challenge is that it is heart-breaking (the coronavirus situation), and that’s going to be the same wherever you are, whether you’re at university or working or unemployed, which would be extra heart-breaking. I think the situation is just… you can’t pretend everyone is just doing great, and that we’re all baking bread [laughter]! There’s been a lot of scrambling around and adapting at lightning speed to this whole new way of doing things.”

“What’s been comforting is seeing how much everyone, the support staff and the lecturers have been bending over backwards to make it about us. You see them working so hard and I often think “Oh gosh, I really hope you get a bubble bath or something after all this!”. It is just really comforting to know that we, the students, are still the priority. It’s not necessarily what I would expect from any university.”

“For example, I had a visa issue and the International Team just sorted it out, no problem for me, very quickly.” 

So, we now find ourselves in “lockdown 3.0”, and coronavirus has been the number one topic of conversation for the past year, so I have to ask: What have you been doing to keep yourself occupied during this time, apart from studying and working?

“I’ve definitely watched all the Netflix in the world, all the ‘comfort food’ shows. I’m watching Superstore, because I love workplace comedies.”

This article is extracted from our recent QMU podcast episode. Listen to our QMU podcasts on our Spreaker page.

In the podcast Episode 6, Nic Terrell of QMU’s Student Recruitment team interviewed Charlotte and Alice, two of our postgraduate students all about life as a postgraduate student at QMU, their personal experience of their courses and the highlights and challenges they have faced.

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