Emma who is now a PhD graduate from the School of English, Communication and Philosophy is a great Cardiff University ambassador. She started at Cardiff as an undergraduate and move onto postgraduate studies after graduating. We met her yesterday during her PhD graduation and asked her about her postgraduate experience at Cardiff University.
How do you think that your postgraduate studies at Cardiff will benefit your future career plans? What are your future career plans?
I think they are going to benefit me hugely. When I did my masters it was always with the idea of going on to a PhD as I really love academic study. I came to Cardiff as an undergraduate student and I really loved my course, doing my own research and particularly my own research projects.
I spoke to staff in my department, my lecturers, who were very supportive and gave me good advice. They suggested that a masters would be a good way of trying out whether I would enjoy doing research. Then, after graduating, I could go and do a PhD. So that’s exactly what I did. I stayed in the same department and my masters helped me going onto my PhD.
I very much saw my masters as the first stage of my research project that I ended up doing for my PhD. I have now finished my PhD and I am about to start a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Birmingham which is extremely exciting. These fellowships are very competitive, there are only 45 for the whole of the UK and I have one of them. I think, if I didn’t have a PhD, I wouldn’t have been able to apply for it. And also, the skills I have learnt along the way really helped me to apply for this opportunity and be successful in that competition.
What have been your biggest achievements as a postgraduate student at Cardiff University?
Well, from when I was doing my Masters, I won a prize for getting the highest mark in the course. I was awarded the Victor Neo prize and that was a real achievement because I really loved doing my research project. It was the first time I had done proper archival research, I went to the British Library and that’s something I still enjoy doing today.
During my time writing my PhD I also organised a conference within the department. It was the biggest conference ever held at the School. In 2013 we had 220 people from all across the world join us for the conference. I think we had delegates from 17 different countries. It was a fantastic experience and incredibly rewarding. It has also helped me to build up an international academic network, many of who I still meet up with at study conferences.
Why did you choose to pursue your postgraduate Studies at Cardiff?
I chose Cardiff University because I had a good relationship with my supervisor, Laurent Milesi at the School of English, Communication and Philosophy. We built a good relationship because he was one of my personal tutors during my degree and he also taught me on a very hard third year module that I did, “Derridean Thought”. We got on well and I really valued his knowledge in his field.
I chose to pursue study at postgraduate level, because as I said, I love doing research. But also, from an early stage, I wanted to be a lecturer and an academic. I knew I had to take this course. Cardiff seemed like the perfect place having this support system already in place.
What are the main differences between undergraduate study and postgraduate study according to your own experience?
I think at undergraduate level, the emphasis is more on research skills and it’s all about getting core basics of knowledge. Postgraduate level is more independent, you are doing your own research projects, and it’s more about letting your passion come out.
In my opinion, it’s crucial to have both, because when you are an undergraduate you learn what you are interested in, and then at postgraduate level is more like a 9 to 5 job. You are researching independently every day, you are doing writing and even teaching. There are lots of different elements to do in a postgraduate degree. It’s quite different to an undergraduate degree but there is also a sense of trajectory at the same time.