Diarmaid Twomey - MSocSc Social Policy

I have missed UCC. I am not ignorant to the irony of that, given that I spent the entire four years of my undergraduate degree from 2013 to 2017, yearning to graduate and begin my professional career. I remember wishing classes, assignments and days away with excited anticipation of the final farewell I would be bidding to the Boole and coffee breaks in the student centre. Fast forward to my graduation, and I remember the regret being almost instantaneous. Why had I not cherished my time inside the gates of UCC? Why did I allow my eagerness to become a social worker blinker my eyes to the beauty of student life in UCC?

Consequently, it’s almost a relief to be back. I love UCC, and everything about it. I couldn’t even manage being apart from the Boole for the year I was away; I joined as an external reader before this summer in anticipation of being back. Thus far, my masters is everything I had hoped for. While I can’t wait to begin my thesis research on youth mental health, I am keen not to repeat mistakes of the past and thus have decided to immerse myself in the specific class topics that come my way each week as much as is possible, without looking too far ahead. This has been quite an easy task thus far, particularly with one of my modules which covers contemporary social policy issues, such is the breath of topics being covered. For example, we recently had a lecture on populism and the right, a topic which is particularly pertinent in a contemporary context, with the likes of Trump and Brexit dominating news headlines. The following week we focused on housing, and in particular the homelessness crisis; the plethora of topics have facilitated a rich learning environment and allowed significant contribution by us, the students. This is the format of learning that I cherish.

Looking forward, I feel that in some respects I have done a complete 180. The gates of UCC no longer represent impending emancipation from the constraints of student life in my mind. The steel structure I see as I glance to my right walking up Donovan’s Road may still represent liberty, but it is that of a different format; I am now acutely aware of the intellectual freedom academia offers, and am trying my hardest to absorb every last drop of it this time around. Only time will tell how successful I am.


Diarmaid Twomey - MSocSc Social Policy

Blog Post 2

Well, we have just entered semester two, or what some might deem, the ‘business end’ of the college season. One of the standouts from semester one in my mind is how fast it went. I am working full time while doing the masters by night, so the weeks tend to fly by, and thus assignments are upon me before I even know it. Reflecting on semester one, particularly in light of the cogitations expressed in my previous posting, I regret not having engaged more conscientiously with some aspects of semester one. Being absolutely honest, I feel as though work and other commitments restricted me somewhat in that regard. That may sound like an excuse, and in some respects it is, but it is also something I am cognisant that I need to address in semester two. 

One of my more recently discovered grás is writing, and in that respect the end of semester one, and the subsequent requirement to submit a policy report, was a welcome antidote to my perceived lack of academic meticulousness. My report focused on the pathology extended to children and young people’s mental health problems, and such is my seemingly misplaced grá, that it exceeded the word count by 2000; the impact of that indiscretion is sure to dilute my passion come results day. On that point, and reflecting on the upsides of academic endeavour, it seems like any time imposter syndrome starts to imbed itself in my psyche (which is often), I regain some confidence, however misplaced, from writing. I am hoping that stands me in good stead as I attempt to navigate over and around the potential bumps and bends semester two may showcase.

I spoke about how much I loved student life in UCC in my previous posting. Unfortunately, that constant has me making the mistake of looking too far ahead, once again. The lure of a sun soaked quad on a quiet Spring morning has me envisaging how blissful life as a PhD student could be. From the seat I scribe from today, the potential of this future has a very endearing, and dangerously distracting quality. Yet, I must not get ahead of myself once more. I have a masters to master yet, and if life, and more recently academia, has taught me anything in the last thirty five years, it’s important to savour the journey, most especially when your destination is yet unknown. For now though, some light ‘reprieve’ in the form of Ben Howard.

Diarmaid Twomey - MSocSc Social Policy

Blog Post 3

And so that’s a wrap. As I scribe today, I have one eye on my rear-view. I catch a glimpse of the year’s classes scurrying into the distance; surely an indication that the terrain ahead is about to become somewhat more difficult to navigate. Notwithstanding that the road my thesis is about to take me on will be fraught with uncertainty, and challenging toil, I am now sure that it doesn’t have to mean that the coming few months is unenjoyable. In fact, anyone who will listen to squabbles of my studies these days will attest to the fact that it is that which I don’t know today, but hope to know tomorrow, is what excites me these days. Academic endeavour and the acquisition of knowledge has never held more allure.

Although I am but an academic novice at this point, I have made a big decision in the past number of days in order to attempt to remedy that; I have begun the application process to start a PhD in 2020. It has been a big decision because I am a mature student who is not getting any younger, because surviving in Ireland is no longer an inexpensive task, and most crucially because this move brings with it a huge degree of uncertainty and trepidation. But I simply have to do it. In 2011 I developed a serious illness, and I have been reminded of what I promised myself back then at various points during the pontification process. Life is short, follow your dreams, engage with your passions and always do what makes you happy, I told myself back then. The very idea of nestling in the bosom of UCC, with all of what it has to offer to someone yearning to learn more, ticks all of the above, so into the trenches I go.  

For now though, it’s back to reality. Another two assignments are due before the end of this month, before focusing exclusively on my research, aside from the day job that is. It’s funny how things can change in such a short space of time. This time last year, as a qualified social worker, I saw the completion of my masters as a means of furthering my knowledge in the area of children and young people’s mental health, before focusing my entire efforts on social work practice again. Yet, here I sit today, still excited about my future social work practice, yet incandescent with anxiety at the mere thought that my academic journey could end now. Who knows what the road ahead holds; PhD-dom may prove to be a step too far for my ability and intellect. For now though, the chance to discover the accuracy of that proposition excites me.


Graduate Studies Office

Oifig na Staidéar Iarchéime

2nd Floor, West Wing, Main Quad, UCC , T12 YN60

Ask a question

Contact us