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Sophie Warden

MSc Sport, Physical Activity and Mental Health

Sport, Physical Activity and Mental Health student, Sophie Warden. Sophie is wearing a blue Edge Hill polo, with 'Sports Coaching & Development' embroidery and an embroidered Edge Hill logo.

I can see how all of the topics covered will be transferable into my professional life. All my assessments have been flexible, allowing me to be assessed on a topic of my choice, which means I’ve been able to tailor my learning to my own experience and interests.

Why did you decide to pursue a postgraduate course?
I studied my undergraduate degree at Edge Hill, and within the course we studied mental health within sport. This really piqued my interest, and my tutors told me about the MSc which offers a well-rounded approach to how mental health, sport and physical activity are intertwined. My tutors were very supportive throughout my undergraduate degree, so I knew I wanted to stay here to study more, and that having a Masters degree would open a lot of doors for me professionally.

How did you apply?
The application process through the University website was pretty simple on the whole. The hardest part was probably describing why I wanted to do the course, but my tutors helped me with the application process. I also applied for student finance through the government website to fund my MSc. It was a very different process to when I applied for my undergraduate funding as it’s not means tested based on your household income, you have to figure out how much you’ll need. If I’m honest I did get a little confused with it but I contacted my University’s support team and they talked me through the process.

Tell us a bit about the course and what it involves
The main focus of my MSc course is learning the basics of mental health, mental illness, and how sport and physical activity can have both positive and negative impacts on both. I’ve also been learning about inequalities within society and sport, and I’ve found this really interesting and a new perspective for me to consider. For me, this has highlighted the importance of knowing the demographic you’re working with and being able to tailor your practice to suit their needs. The course has also covered topics like social processes and how these influence politics and procedures within sport, physical activity and mental health. It’s been fascinating to see just how much influence these processes have within sporting organisations. I can see how all of the topics covered will be transferable into my professional life. All my assessments have been flexible, allowing me to be assessed on a topic of my choice, which means I’ve been able to tailor my learning to my own experience and interests. This has really helped put me at ease when it comes to research, and has set me up well to take on my dissertation project – and it’s a lot easier to write with passion when you can choose a topic that excites you. I’ve also had access to additional qualifications on the course including mental health first aid, dementia awareness training, and suicide prevention training.

How does postgraduate life differ to undergraduate?
I was nervous about transitioning from undergraduate to postgraduate. Everyone says the work is harder – and to a certain extent that’s true. But the staff on my course have been phenomenal at guiding me and reassuring me that I’m more than capable. I’ve definitely transitioned from a solo student to a more collaborative learner. My tutors have encouraged me not to take things at face value, and challenge what is taught. Because of this, I trust my own instincts a lot more than I did as an undergraduate.

What do you hope to do after you’ve completed your MSc?
My plan is to continue at Edge Hill for another three years to undertake a PhD with Rugby League Cares. I’m super excited – and a little nervous – but I know I’m in safe hands with the tutors and lecturers I’ve had for the last few years. It sounds cliché, but I know they’ll support me and push me to be the best I can be. From there, I hope to become a university lecturer or mental health and wellbeing lead within elite sport.

What tips would you give to others choosing a Masters degree?
My biggest tip would be to pick something you’re genuinely excited about. Don’t just do a postgraduate degree to avoid the real world or because you don’t know what else to do because you will find it hard. If you’re interested and excited about the topic, that makes a world of difference. Also, find out early on who your tutors could be and make sure you get a good vibe off them, because they’ll be your biggest source of support. If you’re still nervous, try to chat with people currently doing the course you’re interested in and ask them about their experience. They’ll give you honest answers, and reassure you that postgraduate life isn’t as scary as it’s made out to be.