Where are you from?
What degree pathway are you studying at Queen’s?
I am scheduled to hand in my Ph.D. thesis in September 2010.
Why did you choose to study this subject at Queen’s?
I chose to study History here at Queen’s University because I am interested in the history and politics of Northern Ireland. Queen’s, because of its geographical situation, has always attracted researchers interested in Northern Ireland, and, in turn, has provided a vibrant academic environment within which a range of scholars have been able to approach the topic. This heritage combined with the current academic expertise available here meant that the School of History and Anthropology seemed the most logical place for me undertake my postgraduate studies.
What do you particularly enjoy about studying this subject at Queen’s?
I particularly enjoy studying History at Queen’s because of the diverse nature of the research and teaching that is currently being conducted within the School. This means that, as a postgraduate candidate, you have a great range of seminar series, lectures and discussion groups to avail of. Undertaking a Ph.D. is by its very nature a solitary pursuit, but the fact that there are so many of these events going on all year round means that the department has a really strong sense of community. I have particularly enjoyed my time in Irish Studies because there are a number of large research projects currently being conducted by the Institute which have given me a number of fantastic opportunities to conduct research outside of my specific subject area
Tell us about any funding you received to help you take this course or any scholarships/prizes you have been awarded.
My Ph.D. has been sponsored by the Department of Employment and Learning’s scholarship scheme. I have also been able to avail of funding that the University provides for ‘Student Led Initiatives’. This scheme allows for training initiatives to be developed and delivered by postgraduate researchers for other research students. In my case this fund has allowed me to organise an international, multi-disciplinary postgraduate conference, and to establish an online research and resource network. I have also been lucky enough to have been a recipient of a Helena Wallace scholarship which funded a recent trip to Georgetown University, Washington.
What do you hope to do when you leave Queen’s?
I am hoping to continue on in academia after I have completed my Ph.D. Initially I would like to carry on with my research, but eventually I would like to teach and lecture - having enjoyed the opportunity of doing both whilst here at Queen’s.
Would you recommend studying Irish Studies to other students and to study at Queen’s? What advice would you give them?
I would highly recommend studying here at the Institute of Irish Studies because it gives you such a fantastic chance to undertake research beyond your own field. Also, because each year the Institute takes on five new Research Fellows the place provides a brilliant chance to engage with a number of scholars, more often than not outside your chosen discipline, conducting cutting-edge work. To have the chance to watch and learn from the Fellows, at such close quarters, provides you with invaluable experience. It also means that within the Institute there is a strong academic atmosphere where you are encouraged to float ideas, get feedback, debate and generally get involved.
My advice for anyone undertaking a Ph.D. is that by its very nature the task is a self-absorbing (and, in many ways, a selfish) one, and, as such, you need to make sure that you force yourself to get outside of your respective bubble. Take advantage of the friendly communal spirit that exists within the Department and the wider Queen’s population. This will allow you to get some perspective on your studies and will generally enhance your whole experience here.
Also, and probably most importantly, drink lots of coffee it helps with some of the longer days (particularly around deadlines!). Clements in the Students’ Union and Common Grounds, a stone’s throw away from the main campus, happily provide both good brews and great atmospheres. It is also where you’ll find most of the Queen’s academic population!