Conor Heaney

  • Conor Heaney

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My Go Further Story

Conor Heaney
Politics, Philosophy and Economics
MPhil Philosophy, University of Warwick 

Conor Heaney Head


Where are you now?

I am currently towards the end of my second year of a two year MPhil in Philosophy at the University of Warwick, where I have “specialised” in Political Philosophy, 20th Century Continental Philosophy and the Phenomenological Tradition. For the duration of this programme, I am the holder of a two-year AHRC Research Preparation Master’s Scholarship.

I am currently researching and writing at the intersection of these three fields for my MPhil thesis (a 30,000 word piece of research which is the central and largest project of the programme) under the supervision of Professor Keith Ansell-Pearson. My thesis pivots upon an old philosophical question: How one might live one’s life joyously? What prevailing (social, institutional, etc.) structures inhibit joyous experience and joyous relations? I will not answer these questions once-and-for-all, of course, but I will try and join the academic conversation.

If I pass my viva voce my in September 2015 (fingers crossed!) I will have completed my MPhil in Philosophy from the University of Warwick, from which I have decided to leave and pursue PhD study elsewhere from October 2015. I am currently considering my options as to where this might take me!

How did you get there?

There were three strands of my experience at Queen’s that pushed me in the direction I am now in: one related to academic atmosphere, the second to the unique environment of the university, and the third to the extra-curricular support offered by Careers, Employability and Skills.

(1) Pursuing postgraduate education increasingly became a necessary goal for me as, in my final year at QUB, I decided that I wished to undertake a PhD with a view to engaging in teaching and research. I found the intellectual atmosphere in the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy stimulating and rewarding, and would not have taken this path had it not been for the careful advice, feedback and encouragement of staff members and friends made in my time at Queen’s.

(2) Opening myself to the opportunities offered by societies was an important part in this development, too, insofar as being given the opportunity and resources to work with others in the organising of social and academic events This crystallised my enthusiasm for pursuing projects from (but also beyond) the unique environment of the university (I was, for example, involved in both the PPE and Philosophy Societies).

(3) Writing CVs, applying for jobs, even finding out what jobs might be accessible, were the things that puzzled me as I, in my second year at Queen’s, began thinking about life after Queen’s, after PPE. Engagement with the people in Careers, Employability and Skills soon made these (seemingly) mammoth questions to be small ones. I chose to pursue the path that excited me most, but it wasn’t because I felt short on options; Careers, Employability and Skills helped me realise that options were plentiful.

Making use of Careers, Employability and Skills at Queen’s

One of the standout experiences for me during my second year at Queen’s was my attendance at the first ever Brussels Study Tour in April 2012, which was attended by students of Law, Languages, History and Politics. The tour was a fantastic experience which highlighted the vast array of opportunities and experiences available in the heart of Europe. As well as meeting new people and forming new connections (many of which I still maintain three years later), this tour altered the horizons of my thought, of, specifically, what ‘realistic’ ambitions might be when leaving Queen’s. These altered horizons were hugely formative, and I regularly look to Europe for opportunities and adventures. To name just three examples since this study tour: in August 2014 I attended and participated in a summer school at Utrecht University (Netherlands); in December 2014 I attended an academic conference in Belgrade (Serbia) entitled ‘Engaging Foucault’ in which I presented some of my research; and I will be going to Prato (Italy) in July 2015 for another conference.

Advice for current Queen's students

Everyone’s experience of university is different. One constant, however, is that it has ups and downs. For me, opening myself up to the academic atmosphere in my department, to the environment of the university, and to the support of Careers, Employability and Skills, were three important strands which were invaluable for my decision on that big question of ‘what to do next’ when Queen’s is over. In other words: meeting as many people (and making as many friends) as possible, working with as many people as possible, and taking advice from as many people as possible. Doing something like this will, in your own way, help that big decision feel less lonely than it is. I am currently preparing to leave another institution, so that feeling between indecision, anxiety, and excitement is resurfacing and intensifying. Feeling indecisive, anxious and excited all at once is okay, just don’t do it alone!

Conor Heaney Story


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