Read about some of the experiences of our previous research students to get a flavour of what life is like as a researcher at the University of Cumbria.

Melanie Clapham, PhD Conservation Biology

Melanie, from Chorley, Lancashire, had studied Animal Conservation Science with the University of Cumbria, developing a passion for wildlife. It was an easy decision therefore to choose the University of Cumbria for her PhD in Conservation Biology.

She is currently working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. She has a two-year postdoctorate research project, for which she is responsible for all aspects of data collection, analysis and publication of results.

“I loved the fact that the lecturers worked on research projects internationally within the field of conservation, which was really inspiring and opened my eyes to what was possible.

“As a postgrad you are much more responsible for your own learning, it’s up to you, you have to put the time in but you also reap the rewards if you do. Postgrad study sets you up for a career in your chosen industry.

“It totally changed my life in a way in which I never thought possible. I am now working in another country where I get to spend half of my year in the back country of British Columbia studying brown bears and the other half at an inspiring university.

“I knew I wanted to work with wildlife, preferably large carnivores, but I never imagined that I would be working at this level so soon.”

Mark Carver, PhD Educational Research

Hailing from Bradford, Mark says, “I studied at St Martin’s as an undergraduate and then Lancaster University as a postgraduate so I knew I liked the area and the campus. Having previously read their work, I was also drawn to the expertise of the supervisory team.”

After completing English and Secondary Education with Qualified Teacher Status at undergraduate level, Mark chose his PhD area because “I was interested in how different students experience higher education, and especially how they balance the demands of getting a qualification with the ideals of scholarliness.”

He says what he likes most about the course is “being able to work closely with experts in my area” and he enjoys “interviewing students about their experiences and how they feel about the feedback they get.”

Mark agrees postgraduate study has changed his life. He says, “It gave me the freedom to take a subject into the detail it deserved, and has given me the space to reflect on my ideal career.”

He is most proud of seeing his articles published and read. He says, “It has been great, and it’s amazing to track how many people download my articles from different countries. I am also really proud of my interviews and conference presentations which have helped people to reflect on how they give and receive feedback.”

Kieran J. Steuart: PhD Politics, Sociology and Economics

Kieran, from Dumfries, chose the University of Cumbria because of “the campus design and facilities, the quality of the teaching, administrative staff and the location.”

Kieran says, “I most like how as a PhD student there is a wide breadth of reading material which continually increases my academic knowledge. My favourite experience here has been meeting my supervisors as they are very pleasant and moreover have continually helped me advance my academic skills.“

He adds, “You have more available time as a postgraduate student, which allows you to be more patient in advancing your academic skills. I delegate specific time slots for both my academic and nonacademic commitments.“

What advice would you have given yourself at the start of the programme if you could go back in time? “Not to be as nervous, as the experience of being part of the University of Cumbria’s academic community is extremely fulfilling.“

Leander Bindewald: PhD Critical Discourse Analysis of the Theory of Money and the Practice of Community Currencies

Originally part-time based in London, now full-time at Ambleside, Leander holds an MSc equivalent degree in Biology (Neurobiology) and a second MSc equivalent degree in Philosophy (with Business/Economics as second subject).

Leander, originally from Germany, had worked with his current supervisor in his research job at the New Economics Foundation, and the attractive area had an influence on his decision to study at the University of Cumbria.

Leander enjoys the “flexibility in topic development and participation (as student and lecturer) in the courses taught by the Institute (IFLAS).”

Describing the differences between studying as an undergraduate student compared to a postgraduate student he says,“It would be the liberty in pursuing one’s own learning goals instead of ticking off a curriculum.”