Agni Agathi Papamichael – PhD History

PhD History student Agni Agathi Papamichael has turned her childhood fascination with the history of the Middle Ages into her academic research project. Find out more about her experience as a researcher at the University of Birmingham. 

Agni-PapamichaelWhy did you choose to study for a PhD in History?

“Becoming a historian has been my life-long goal. My childhood fascination with history, and particularly the Middle Ages, developed into academic interest, leading me to pursue my undergraduate and postgraduate studies in the field. Completing the University of Birmingham's PhD in History programme is an essential step towards an academic career, which further increases my employability in other related fields, such as publications and cultural institutions.“

Why did you choose to undertake research at the University of Birmingham?

“Having completed an MA in Medieval Studies at the University of Birmingham in 2019, I was extremely satisfied with the University, its library and other facilities, the way the course and the Department are run, and the academic staff, particularly my supervisor. I wished to continue my collaboration with my supervisor, and make the most of the University's library, collections, and excellent research environment. Furthermore, the University of Birmingham allows researchers to collaborate with scholars from other universities (especially in the Midlands), and offers great funding and employment opportunities. I also took into consideration the exceptional world-class rankings of the University and the Department, as well as the fact that Birmingham is a very modern, accommodating, diverse and welcoming city to live in, especially for international students. Hence, I applied for a PhD at Birmingham without hesitation."

What are the best things about your course?

“I feel that, thanks to the course's academic support, resources, and research-related events, I am able to significantly hone my skills as a historian. My Birmingham and Midlands-based supervisors provide me with the best support, while the course's progress review system prompts me to keep up my work in an organised schedule. The library is priceless for my research, and its rich digital resources are of great help, especially when I am out of the UK, or during the lockdown. The conferences and symposia frequently organised (now online) by the University are a fantastic way for researchers to promote their work and interact with other scholars on an equally professional and friendly basis.” 

What is life like as a researcher at the University of Birmingham?

“As a researcher at the University of Birmingham, I have access to a brilliant network of academic mentors within and without the University, and to a rich physical and digital library. Although research takes up the majority of my time, this does not prevent me from expanding the scope of my activities. I can pursue several on-campus employment opportunities provided by Worklink, and engage in a wide range of activities within the student community, such as getting involved in academic side-projects with fellow researchers, or joining one of the University's 250+ societies and clubs for socialisation, further education, fitness, or leisure. The numerous student accommodation halls near campus are conveniently located in the proximity of shops, entertainment venues and parks, while the city's diversity makes it easy to fit in."

What support have you received during your PhD?

"Having registered just before the Covid-19 breakout, getting support from the University was a great help and relief for me. Although the library closed down, I was allowed to keep the books I had borrowed earlier, and I was able to make the most of the library's digital resources and use my University credentials to access new digital publications for free. My supervision sessions were also continued normally in the form of video conferences, and my supervisors always supported, encouraged, and even recommended me for participation at conferences. Finally, I knew that I could always count on the University's Welfare Services for support. In a time of universal stagnancy and confusion, thanks to the University's excellent support system, I was able to normally progress with my work."

Outside of your research, what experience have you gained and how will it help you in the future?

“Apart from my earlier field-related internships and jobs, in my time as a PhD researcher in Birmingham I had the opportunity to get involved in projects conducted by the College of Arts and Law, which have been essential in the development of my co-operation and research skills, especially in approaching primary sources, editing and writing for various audiences. I am confident that these experiences have helped me become a more skilful and informed professional. Last but not least, living in a multicultural environment has helped me improve my language skills and become more culturally aware, and thus able to cope better in diverse social and professional environments.” 

Find out more about our PhD History programme over on our course pages.