Apeike Umolu

Student spotlight details

After a career in banking, Apieke enrolled on our part-time Certificate in History with the aim of going on to pursue a PhD in History. She has now been accepted onto a fully-funded scholarship PhD programme at the University of Cambridge.

'Before starting on the Undergraduate Certificate in History I was a banking and finance lawyer in the City of London. I knew I wanted to do a PhD in history but having never studied history at university level I didn’t feel ready to write a doctoral research proposal. I researched a number of different courses that could act as a 'bridge' to postgraduate historical studies and the part-time Certificate at Oxford stood out from the rest for its intellectual rigour, quality of teaching, and tutorial system.

'I was particularly drawn to the course because of the opportunity to study political history. However, the breadth of the course meant that I was pushed out of my comfort zone which I now really appreciate. From studying the ecclesiastical and legal history underpinning the English reformation to the social history of the nobility and gentry and the intellectual history that fuelled the rise of socialism, the course completely transformed what I understood about the academic study of history. Being taught different areas of history by experts, participating in high-quality seminar discussions with a lively and engaged cohort, and making use of the library at the Department made for a wonderful learning experience. Without these experiences on the course, I would not have been able to develop my research skills and have the confidence to make the career switch from law into academia.

'Because of the breadth of the course, I was able to discover my love for the history of ideas. With the support of Professor Tom Buchanan, Dr Ruth Percy and Dr Janet Dickinson, I felt confident to put together a research proposal for, and was accepted onto a master's in The History of Political Thought at Wolfson College, University of Cambridge. I was lucky enough to receive a Cambridge Trust scholarship to support my master's research into the life and work of nineteenth-century political thinker Edward Blyden. I then applied for and was accepted onto the PhD programme at Queens’ College, University of Cambridge where I am researching the intellectual history of patriotism in the nineteenth century. I have again been very fortunate to be fully funded by an AHRC DTP Studentship and the Alexander Crummell PhD Scholarship from Queen’s College.

'It wasn’t all smooth sailing, however. I had to suspend my studies at Oxford for a year because of personal circumstances. But the course team were amazing, accepting me back onto the course and giving me the support I needed to excel. So, if you are worried about starting the course because it isn’t quite the 'perfect' time, I would say go for it – you will have a supportive team on your side truly invested in helping you achieve your academic goals.'

Learn more: