Student spotlight details
Amy is now studying full-time for a D.Phil with the History Faculty at Oxford, in partnership with Tate.
'Although I studied history for my undergraduate degree, I went on to a career in marketing. A career break while my three children were small gave me the opportunity to think long-term and I decided to change direction. I have always loved museums and heritage, but curatorial roles usually require a postgraduate degree. The PGCert in Historical Studies was the ideal re-introduction to academia as it enabled me to study flexibly while still caring for my children. During the course I realised that my interests lie firmly in art and material culture, so the MSt in Literature and Arts (MLA) was a natural progression.
'Initially the biggest challenge was developing study skills: keeping track of note taking and referencing and creating a bibliography. The first essay was very time-consuming and a steep learning curve but I quickly developed my own organisational systems. The MSt in Literature and Arts brought a new set of challenges as its interdisciplinary nature meant that I was studying subjects that were well outside of my comfort zone. I had not studied English Literature since my A-level more than twenty years before, but the nature of the course allows students to be experimental, and by the end I felt confident handling literary sources in my dissertation.
'Both the PGCert and the MLA gave me the opportunity to study a wide range of topics and time periods, which gave a fantastic overview of many different types of history and culture. The MLA is also unusual in its interdisciplinary nature and range; I don’t think I could have found a more stimulating course. The residences were a highlight, both the teaching and the opportunity to meet, discuss and forge friendships with other students. Being in beautiful Oxford, with the incredible resources of the university on hand, was an important part of the experience.
'After the MLA, I was fortunate to be awarded a place on the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership scheme. I studied full time for a DPhil with the History Faculty at Oxford, in partnership with Tate, where I had the opportunity to contribute to a major exhibition at Tate Britain. I also undertook an additional work placement at the Stanley Spencer Gallery in Cookham, gaining futher valuable curatorial experience. Since completing my DPhil in 2022, I now combine part-time roles as a country house curator, and freelance exhibition researcher at Tate.
'I can’t recommend the Department for Continuing Education highly enough. It offers the opportunity to study a challenging and exciting course, organised flexibly and sympathetically around work or caring commitments. The residences were intense and exhausting but hugely enjoyable, while the online forum and the support of other students meant that I always felt connected. Coming back to study after such a long gap could have been daunting, but it was the perfect springboard back into academia and I feel profoundly grateful to the Department for giving me such a great start to a new and fulfilling career.'