My career in higher education did not begin in Turkish studies. My interest in the Ottoman Empire occurred while I was taking my MA degree at the University of Portsmouth. Fortunately the freedom of choice afforded in this degree course allowed me to pursue both an Independent Research project on relations between the Ottoman Navy and the Barbary Coast 1450-1550 (which was subsequently presented to and assessed by other graduate students and teachers) and also a Dissertation project in which I examined Ottoman-European interactions 1600-1800 assessing how far religious factors affected interactions such as warfare, diplomacy and trade.
By the end of my MA research I was deeply interested in directing my research towards Turkish studies and spent some time considering my PhD plans during which I carried out my own private research and reading into both the topics which specifically interested me and more general Turkish history and culture in order to educate myself in this field. Also during this period I took my first and to date only trip to Turkey which only served to confirm me in my interest in Turkish studies and encouraged me to pursue my current project.