Matt Hines– PhD Modern Languages

German Studies PhD student Matt Hines says studying for his PhD has allowed him to "develop something to say and to say it." We found out more about his experience as a researcher at the University of Birmingham. 

matt-hinesWhy did you choose to study for a PhD in Modern Languages?

“I think about study as a process of intensification that allows you, whilst expanding your knowledge of a subject such as Modern Languages, to focus on increasingly smaller topics within that, with a PhD the last step. Not only did I come upon a topic that I found interesting and that I felt needed more attention, but I also felt attracted to the challenge of a three-year, independently-researched project that would contribute to the field. More so than any degree beforehand, a PhD provides an opportunity for you to develop something to say and to say it.”

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

“Birmingham has a rich German Department in the Institute for German and European Studies (IGES) that has in my short time so far already provided me numerous opportunities for exchange, feedback, and outreach. The IGES is not simply invested in learning simultaneously but also in attentively projecting that research outwards; not only do I have access to excellent supervision, I also belong to an engaged and varied department.”

What are the best things about your course?

“My experience as a supervisee has made a significant mark on my studies. I have a rigorous routine that has kept me engaged in my work throughout without creating unnecessary burdens, allowing me to progress through a period of profound academic and personal learning with greater ease.”

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

“Doctoral research anywhere marks a real break from even the semi-independence of a Master’s degree, which means that you spend much of your time working alone. Whilst the pandemic has changed much of day-to-day life, the (albeit online) get-togethers with fellow students or with academics, in research seminars or at conferences, make that experience more interactive and more often than not leave you with ideas to integrate into your individual work.”

What support have you received during your PhD?

"More often than not I have drafted a piece of writing monthly to discuss at a subsequent supervision, which has broken the long timespan of a PhD into more manageable chunks. These supervisions also provide a chance to talk about other successes and obstacles as they emerge, and so have served as the backbone of support guiding me throughout the at times tricky process!”

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

“Through opportunities provided by Birmingham I have tested the waters of teaching, editing, reviewing, presenting, and so on – regardless of what I chose, the possibility to develop on personal interests with one eye on the future was a given right from the start, meaning that I have always considered my present research and at the same time had in mind where that might lead me.”

Find out more about our postgraduate opportunities in Modern Languages.