Beatrice Ashton-Lelliott – PhD in English


Beatrice Ashton-Lelliott: My PhD supervisor is one of the only other people in the world who has the knowledge and experience necessary to supervise my work

Beatrice’s PhD in English Literature led to funded research trips and the confidence to explore the impact of her work.

I felt that I was not finished researching and studying yet and wanted to carry on learning. I also wanted to fill in the gaps that I could see in current histories of magic.

My faculty provided a generous bursary in order for me to carry out my work. As a condition of this I also teach undergraduates within my department, which forms another large part of my work life. My hobbies are mainly reading, films, gaming, creative writing, improving my Japanese – slowly! – and making a fuss of other people’s dogs when I should be writing my PhD in coffee shops!

When I first arrived at Portsmouth I did not know anyone, but quickly found a large group of friends, a flatmate and a house in a great area of the city, and the opportunity to spend three years studying a topic which is endlessly fascinating to me. Research the staff here if you are looking for a PhD supervisor in any area – Portsmouth has world-class staff who often specialise in niche and interesting topics which need further exploration, they will no doubt be happy to hear from you! There is no way to say this without it sounding incredibly cliche, but I have had the time of my life studying here.

The incredibly supportive research culture at the University of Portsmouth, both in terms of staff and my cohort of PhD students, has improved my confidence immeasurably in terms of my own research, presenting my findings and public speaking – particularly in terms of leading seminars and workshops as part of my teaching. The different events run by the Graduate School, my department and faculty, and variety of work spaces provided for us means that I have met PhD students from across the whole University who I know will be my friends for life. I would not be where I am now in terms of self-confidence and personal development without this unique kind of supportive network.

My supervisor is one of the only other people in the world who has the knowledge and experience necessary to supervise my work – so I’m very lucky to be working with him! As it is a PhD I have formed my course myself, but having a supervisor who is well-versed in my subject area is the most unique part of my work here, as no one else is approaching the subjects we look at in a similar way. Magic studies is still an emerging field, so it’s exciting to be ahead of the curve in many ways working here with other people in this area.

The encouragement given to me by my department helped me to expand my horizons in terms of thinking about the broader impact of my work: I have run public engagement events both alone and with my supervisor, had calls from researchers at BBC radio, and completed a research placement at the British Library – an incredible opportunity which I would not have applied for without my department’s support and advice. I have also had successful funding applications for research trips, again thanks to the support given to me here. Being able to generate my own funding in this way has also helped my research reach a wider audience.

At Portsmouth, I’ve learnt self-confidence, a willingness to try anything, and the importance of collegiality.

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