Gregers Forssling

MA History

Gregers Forssling

As a busy Head of Modern Languages with three young children and an extension being built around me I wondered whether this was the best moment to undertake such a challenge, especially since I had not studied History as an undergraduate. I decided, however, that there would always be a number of demands on my time and that with some cooperation from my Headteacher and a lot of support from my wife I would push ahead with a project that I had already put off for a couple of years

At first this course appeared daunting. As a busy Head of Modern Languages with three young children and an extension being built around me I wondered whether this was the best moment to undertake such a challenge, especially since I had not studied History as an undergraduate. I decided, however, that there would always be a number of demands on my time and that with some co-operation from my Headteacher and a lot of support from my wife I would push ahead with a project that I had already put off for a couple of years.

As a part-time student, my MA course was spread over two years with one evening seminar a week. Leaving work in Berkhamsted at 4pm I drove up to Oxford with enough time to stop off at the library before the session started to drop off books and collect those that I had reserved via the library web site. Taking the course over two years was ideal, allowing me the time to balance my commitments and to develop my knowledge and skills in this discipline.

The compulsory core course was an ideal introduction providing a useful foundation of historiography and methodology for the diverse range of specialist subjects that the members of our group went on to take. These sessions, led by Dr Tom Crook, took place in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere which put everyone at ease and encouraged many lively exchanges of views.

As my first specialist subject I chose Professor Roger Griffin’s module Terrorism in its Socio-Political and Psycho-Historical Context. Contemporary but rooted in the origins of terror as a means of social control and change, this module was inspirational, challenging us to explore a range of social, political and religious rationale behind acts of terrorist violence. Having completed this module, I decided that I wanted to explore further aspects of terrorism and approached Dr Crook as a potential supervisor for an Independent Study Module. Tom was very supportive, encouraging me to develop my ideas into a fascinating exploration of the visual impact of terrorism through the media, from early Fenian attacks to the London Bombings of 2005. This module was also a very good preparation for the degree of independent thought and organization demanded by the Dissertation Module.

For my dissertation I returned to work with Roger Griffin who agreed to supervise my work on the religious psycho-dynamics of the SS and its role in the Nazi programme of racial cleansing. As I laboured through my dissertation I became aware of just how developmental the Core Course and Specialist Subject modules had been in preparing me for this task and I was delighted to receive a Distinction grade for my submission. At the beginning of the course I would have been happy just to pass.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable and challenging MA course delivered by encouraging, supportive experts in their fields. I would particularly recommend this course to any teacher seeking to sharpen their academic skills and deepen their subject knowledge with a view to promotion or a change in teaching discipline. It is worth finding the time to do this course.