Why did you choose to study Drama and Theatre Studies?

I’m a mature student with many years of study and professional practice behind me, so it wasn’t really a case of choosing a field. I made that decision a long time ago. It was more a case of selecting a specialist area within a field that was already familiar. I thought about PhD study for a long time before I started it and I do think it’s essential to find a topic you are passionate about. As this level of research is largely a solo journey, it’s so important to be fully engaged with your investigation, to sustain you through the ups and downs of what can be a long and challenging process. In my case, the puzzle I wanted to solve, or at least to understand better, was the role of emotion in actor training

Why did you choose to undertake research at the University of Birmingham?

My PhD journey began at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, where I completed my MA. I transferred to Birmingham because I wanted to work with Dr Rose Whyman, whose expertise and research interests were a much better match with what I wanted to explore. I am extremely grateful to Rose, who helped me get the project back on track with the minimum of fuss, at a time when it would have been easy to give up all together. Academic advisors always emphasise how important it is to find the right supervisor, and I think my individual story illustrates how vital it is.

What are the best things about your course?

As a part-time research student, based outside Birmingham, I don’t often come into direct contact with the academic community. However, I am very much aware that I belong to a large, dynamic school and a very active department. Because of my comparatively distant relationship to the course, the overwhelming positive is the contact with my supervisor. I particularly appreciate the quality of the feedback on my work and the patient and methodical progress towards the final goal: submission of the thesis. It’s perfectly possible to complete a PhD in three-four years, if you are devoted to it full-time. But for other researchers, especially part-time students, progress can be interrupted by career developments, family commitments and many other factors. Interruptions can easily double, if not triple, the standard duration of the course. I’m delighted to finally have the end in sight.

Outside of your research, what experience have you gained and how will it help you in the future?

For me, all the benefits of the course are research-related. The topic is important to me: I’ve transformed my understanding of both acted emotion and emotion experienced spontaneously in life. You can’t do a research degree without cultivating numerous transferrable skills, such as self-discipline, resourcefulness and perseverance which are bound to be useful in any future endeavours. I do have some publications under my belt, but I’m also excited by the prospect of publishing and disseminating my ideas further.