Helena Woodfield – PhD English Language

PhD English Language student Helena Woodfield is researching the language features of fake news. We find out more about her experience as a researcher at the University of Birmingham. 

Why did you choose to study a PhD in English Language and Applied Linguistics?

“As a forensic linguist I found that there was an opportunity to make a difference to significant areas of our society through the study of language. To me, pursuing a PhD in fake news analysis is a way to help solve a global problem that can only be addressed through doctoral or academic study.”

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

“The University of Birmingham is a well-respected institution. It houses the Centre for Corpus Research which was significant to me as corpus methods are a fundamental part of my analysis. Similarly it allows me to be exposed to many different types of linguistic analysis.”

What are the best things about your course? 

“I find my supervisor especially supportive. He is interested in my topic and fully invested in my success as a PhD student. In general the staff are extremely friendly and approachable which makes for a really productive atmosphere in the department. I also really value the range of expertise across the department.” 

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

“Life as a researcher at the University of Birmingham is great. We have a lovely campus, we have friendly staff, I even bring my dog to campus during lunch to cheer people up. I find life very flexible and conducive to a work/life balance.”

What support have you received during your PhD?

“So far, I have been given access to workshops, my own office space, summer schools and seminars. There are lots of opportunities for career and professional throughout the course. There are also great wellbeing services for if you ever find yourself needing support. The fact that we are given a mentor that is different to our supervisors is helpful too, it gives a different perspective and another person to talk to.” 

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

“In my first year I ran the PG Tips program – a series of weekly seminars, workshops, get-togethers for the doctoral researchers within the Department of English Language and Linguistics. I also ran the Birmingham English Language Postgraduate Conference, which I think now makes me a qualified event planner. The research skills I have gained are immense but the computational skills I have absorbed were surprising.” 

Find out more studying for a PhD in English Language over on our course pages.