PhD Classics and Ancient History student Hebe Barlow says that she fell in love with the University of Birmingham as an undergraduate student and so decided to return as a postgraduate. We found out more about her experience as a postgraduate researcher within the Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology.
Why did you choose to study for a PhD in Classics and Ancient History?
“After finishing my undergraduate degree, I started a PGCE in Classics and Latin. Whilst I loved teaching, I couldn’t help but miss being a student! I realised that I still wanted to learn more about the ancient world and to explore my own research interests, so I decided to return for postgraduate studies."
Why did you choose to undertake research at the University of Birmingham?
“The day I visited the University of Birmingham for my undergraduate open day something just clicked for me. During my undergrad degree I fell in love with the University, my department, and the city in general. I honestly never even considered applying for anywhere else – especially because there are a number of lecturers and other PhD students interested in my specific area of interest – reception studies."
What are the best things about your course?
“As our department is quite small, everyone knows everybody else. We have a weekly postgraduate forum, which gives a chance to socialise and also expand / challenge our knowledge and skills. The department also has an excellent support structure, so if / when you need some extra support it’s easily assessable.”
What is life like as a researcher at the University of Birmingham?
“Life can be very busy! You can apply to have your own desk, so there’s an official workspace on campus always available to you. Through that you get to meet even more PhD students, in completely different departments. There’s weekly postgraduate forums to attend, as well as a departmental lecture each week. There are often guest lectures going on – and of course you’re not limited to simply those hosted by your own department. I’ve been to English Literature lectures and even a talk by Great British Bake Off winner Candice Brown simply because I saw an advert and thought it looked interesting!"
What support have you received outside of your PhD?
“The department has multiple wellbeing officers who are always around to talk to. I’ve previously been to see them when I needed some additional support and they were incredibly supportive and helpful. Supervisors are always there to talk to, and when you start your PhD you’re also given the option of having a mentor – another PhD student who can show you the ropes and is another option if you have some sort of issue. And of course, when you attend the postgrad groups there’s always someone there who’s experienced the same things you’re going through and can give you some advice/ support.”
Outside of your research, what experience have you gained and how will it help you in the future?
“I already had a PGCE before starting my postgrad. With that I’ve been able to work part time as a supply teacher, and also as a tutor. I’ve also had the opportunity to join The Brilliant Club, which helps connect PhD students to schools where they can teach students and encourage them to think about their own university opportunities. There’s the chance to help run the postgraduate forums, journals, to give talks and presentations, to attend conferences etc. There’s a huge number of opportunities to expand your own personal experiences.”