Only showing posts tagged with 'Humanities' Show all blog posts

Student View - The 'Living At Home' Experience

by YPU Admin on May 21, 2020, Comments. Tags: Humanities, Law, live at home, stay at home, student life, and student view


As soon as you get the confirmation that you have been accepted into university, your mind goes all over the place - planning what you will do. For many, it is sorting transport and moving away to your very own place. However, the side of this journey that is not always seen is those who decide to stay home, like me. When I got accepted to the University of Manchester, I knew immediately I was going to stay home. I am not a very adventurous person and have never even left Manchester without my family. I had no idea staying at home would be an adventure in itself. My name is Faryal and I live at home with 8 other people whilst studying Law at the University of Manchester.

The Ups and Downs of Living at Home

Staying at home does have many positives. I do not have to pay rent, bills and I do not need maintenance loans. I help at home when I can but it costs considerably less than having my own place. Travelling to university comes at a cost but compared to travelling home on the weekends, it is much less. I personally believe staying home has helped with my mental health, being surrounded with people I am comfortable with and have lived with my whole life.

Staying at home, however, is not all money-saving and family time. It does come with its struggles. Peace and quiet are pretty much non-existent in my home. It is also more difficult to make friends when you do not live with other students. Travelling to university can be hectic in itself as there are specific times you must be there and busses coming on time is as rare as sunny British weather. The biggest issue is definitely how to make the most of university when living at home, how to live the true university experience.

How to Make the Most of Uni

These disadvantages can be overcome. I cannot stress the importance of these tips and wish I really took full advantage of the opportunities. The most obvious way is to join a society or volunteering. Freshers Fair at the University of Manchester is full of societies signing up new members. There really is a society for everyone. The best thing about joining a society or volunteering is you are surrounded by people with the same interests as you, whether it is Mixed Martial Arts or Accounting you are interested in. The Manchester Students’ Union lists all sorts of different societies. Listing the societies you are interested in as well as being spontaneous and trying something new is the best way to go for Freshers.

Seminar groups really push you to meet new people. The best advice I could give is when you talk to people in your seminar group, ask for a way to contact them. Whilst you may seem shy, they probably want to ask you the same thing.

As a home student, seeing other students already knowing each other, it could really affect your confidence, not only in making friends but also speaking to people in general. During the beginning of my first year, I found myself barely participating or asking for help. It is so important to push yourself within the first few weeks to participate in seminars and ask for help when you need it because you can then fall into a habit of being withdrawn and quiet. It can be really daunting at first and you feel like everyone is watching you but it soon becomes second nature. It is so vital to ask for help when you feel your mental health is not the best it could be. The University of Manchester counselling support is amazing and really can make the difference. University is such a special experience and getting into university is a fantastic achievement so you should really make the most of it.

One thing I love about the University of Manchester is the campus. The greenery, the libraries are all great places to spend your time. Instead of rushing straight home, go to the library or even take a walk around the campus and just enjoy the experience.

Staying at home is as ‘boring’ as you make it. It can really be the best experience if you take full advantage of all the opportunities you have. For me, whilst the beginning of university was really difficult, once I pushed myself and became more social around the university, I really loved it and cannot wait to start my next year, surrounded by my family when at home and by friends when at university.

Useful Websites


Studying Samuel Beckett

by YPU Admin on May 11, 2020, Comments. Tags: English, english literature, Humanities, literature, samuel beckett, and sexuality


My name is Eleanor and I am a third year PhD student at the University of Manchester. My research looks at queer sexuality in Samuel Beckett’s work during the 1960s. You might know Samuel Beckett as the playwright who wrote Waiting for Godot, but did you know he was also a novelist, poet, screenwriter, director for both television and film and a short prose writer? My work focuses on the 1960s in particular because Beckett’s work during this period begins to change into something much more minimal (the scenery is often a plain white space, bodies nondescript and their actions often simply breathing and sweating) and, simultaneously, much more gender-fluid.

Here I am giving a paper at the 4th Annual Beckett Society conference in Mexico City.

In Depth

At school, my favourite subjects were English Literature, Religious Studies and Art & Design. I never got on very well with Mathematics or any of the sciences, although now, surprisingly, I find that I am using theories from these disciplines in my work as well! My undergraduate degree was in English Literature at the University of Sussex, and I did a Master's in Comparative Literature at Queen Mary’s, University of London, which allowed me to study a broader range of literature in other languages and in translation—as well as translation theory—and to make more comparisons between subjects, such as comparing literature with music, art and performance.[1] This has helped a great deal with my current studies, as Beckett wrote in both English and French, and did a lot of self-translation, as well as working in aural and visual mediums.

My current research brings queer theory to an area of Beckett Studies to which it is absolutely crucial, while simultaneously allowing this research to reflect back upon the current state of Sexuality Studies.[2] The theoretical work that my thesis has opened up is different from what I had imagined when I started my PhD, but in an exciting way! The journey you take when you study literature can be unpredictable and messy and that’s what I love about it. Often, you will find that literary criticism has been subject to compulsory heterosexuality. This term was coined by groundbreaking feminist scholar Adrienne Rich to explain how society expects, assumes and reinforces heterosexuality as dominant. At its most basic, my work seeks to undo this.

I also work as a Teaching Assistant, which has been an extremely rewarding role and has taught me a great deal. When I graduate, I would like to continue to teach at university level. I work as a Widening Participation Fellow, I am a tutor on the MAP programme, I undertake Research Assistant work, and I am the administrator of the Beckett Society. On top of this, I also have a part-time job as a customer service assistant at an art supplies company. When you do a PhD part-time, you have to keep a very strict calendar, and be very aware of your limits.

Samuel Beckett

Going Further…

The reason that I fell in love with studying literature was theory. Theory is a broad category, which encompasses all sorts of ideas, from feminism and Marxism to deconstruction and psychoanalysis. Some people don’t see theory as very valuable because it doesn’t have a material output, like a science subject might. However, studying literature is important because it examines the bedrock of our lives: not just language itself, but narrative and how it is constructed. In studying literature, you are also able to examine the narratives of productivity that are fed to us by society and find better ways of ascribing value and importance.

A rainbow printed onto the road in the Castro District, San Francisco, ready for Pride celebrations.

[1] Translation theory asks at how best to translate a text – can one translate for both sense and feel? How to make up for the importance of sound and rhythm? How to make up for small but significant differences in meaning and account for cultural context? It has been suggested, for example, that the translation of poetry is impossible.

[2] Queer theory is a broad category of theorizing that foregrounds sexuality and gender, reading texts through a lens that is often denied us in critical theory. Eve Sedgwick, one of the most famous queer theorists, suggests ‘it's about how you can't understand relations between men and women unless you understand the relationship between people of the same gender, including the possibility of a sexual relationship between them.' This is why it is so crucial that queer theory be brought to Beckett Studies, as this has so far been neglected in scholarship.


Intern Insight - The School of Life

by YPU Admin on May 1, 2020, Comments. Tags: animal ethics, ethics, french, Humanities, intern, intern insight, language, and spanish


Hello! I’m Krystyna. I’m a graduate intern at the University of Manchester and I work in the Student Recruitment and Widening Participation team. This means that I work in a team which works closely with schools and colleges in order to show learners what university is all about and what other options young people have to continue their education and succeed in the future.

I studied French and Spanish at the University and in my final year I did an extended research project on the topic of anthropomorphism – the way that animals (or non-human characters) are treated as if they had human qualities. Not at all French or Spanish! But what does all this have to do with what I studied and my current job?


What is the School of Life?

You may have heard people refer to university as ‘The School of Life’, but what do they mean by this? Arriving at university is an experience unlike any other. You are likely to be living without your family for the first time, independently, with a group of other students. You can meet new people every day if you want to through your course, and though the various societies (clubs) and activities going on on-campus or in the city. You are faced with so many new situations that your ability to overcome problems gets better, and you find yourself getting more confident. More confident and learning a whole lot of new skills and knowledge. All of these experiences give you an insight into the world beyond your comfort zone and prepare you for your future whether you have a career in mind or not.

As you find your feet, and get deeper into your work and settle into your student life, you also start finding out more about your interests – what are the things that spark something inside you? What are the things that get you excited? Where is it that your strengths lie? What do you want to get better at? These were some of the questions that helped me make the most of the opportunities at university.

How does this help you grow?

University isn’t only about attending your classes and only sticking to classes from your course – that’s right! If you’re doing a business degree you can take up a language and vice versa! I was able to take a course on animal ethics in my final year which explored the relationship that we, humans, have with animals. Not only was this fascinating, but it also changed my world view. This, paired with my growing abilities in the languages I was learning, made me reconsider my future. I started thinking beyond my subject and started thinking about how I wanted to impact society in the future.

I became a student ambassador in my first year through to my final year. This is a role in which you represent the university at events and get to talk to people visiting campus about your experience there. As an ambassador, one of the things I enjoyed was the opportunity to work with schools. I would help university staff run events that encourage secondary school pupils to take up languages and in my final year, I was able to teach four beginner French lessons to 12 pupils in year eight at their school. This is because many, if not all, universities also work with their local communities in many different ways and I was able to be a part of that.   


How does this help shape your future?

As I came closer to finishing my degree, I started to understand that my degree doesn’t restrict me to finding a job linked directly to my studies. I started to understand that at university you learn so many different skills that can be applied to many different jobs. At university, not only did I gain independence, experience and learn about many things that I wouldn’t have otherwise learned about (such as studying linguistics, and animal ethics, and even studying abroad), I was able to reflect on my experiences and skills, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses and find where it is that I want to go next.

If you decide to come to university, I hope that you will push yourself to learn and experience new things, get involved in the work that your university does in its community and discover, from these experiences, where your passion might lie. I hope you have an excellent experience in the School of Life!


Young People’s Activism in Times of Austerity


Hi my name’s Liz and I’m a second year PhD student in the Geography department, where my work focuses on young people’s activism in times of economic and political change. My research is done in collaboration with the young engagement organisation RECLAIM, and explores the following questions: Why might young people get involved in activism, and what kind of campaigning work are young people doing? How does learning about politics from a young age impact young people’s lives? And how are small charities managing after a decade of cuts to public services?

In depth…

RECLAIM is a Greater Manchester-based youth leadership and social change organisation committed to supporting working class young people to have their voices heard. Young people (aged 11 and up) working with RECLAIM campaign against a number of issues including young people’s exclusion from political decision making, a lack of representation within politics, and negative class stereotypes. 

We know that economic cuts, also described as austerity measures, in the UK and across parts of Europe over the last decade have had devastating impacts on public services, and, affecting young people in particular, youth services. These austerity measures are experienced differently across social groups and places around the UK, and we know that working class communities and charities have been disproportionately affected by cuts to services and the changing funding landscape. In this context it’s important to explore the ongoing marginalisation of young working class people in political decision making, and how young people are campaigning and engaging in activism in times of economic, social and political change.

Picture of three boys on a bridge in London, one is wearing a t-shirt that says “working class young people being seen, being heard and leading change. RECLAIM.”

My research involves working with staff and young people at RECLAIM over a year to explore the kind of activism and campaigning young people are doing and why, how young people feel about gaining a political education at an early age, and what impact austerity measures have had on RECLAIM. Each day is a bit different, but mainly the research involves going along to events and workshops run by or for young people, going to team meetings, hanging out in the office and doing some interviews and workshops with staff and young people at RECLAIM. In the current global pandemic all face to face fieldwork has stopped, and instead I am following team meetings and other activities online and delaying some of the research with young people until the social distancing measures are lifted and it is safe to continue with face to face research. 

I hope this research will provide some important information about how young people are pushing for social change, what supports young people’s activism and what acts as a barrier, and what small charities are doing to manage a difficult funding situation.

Picture of a group of young people and RECLAIM staff and volunteers outside Rochdale town hall holding placards. 

My Route into Geography

I’ve done quite a few different things over the last 10 years and I never imagined at 18 that 10 years later I would end up doing a PhD in Geography – as you’ll see I took quite an unusual route to get here…

I really loved languages and reading in school and I was interested in learning about the cultures and histories of different countries so after trawling through university prospectuses and getting advice from teachers I decided to apply for a languages undergraduate degree. I went to Exeter University to study French and Italian, which included a year abroad. Doing a languages degree was great because alongside the language classes (French and Italian grammar, speaking and translation), I also got to study French art, Italian novels, and the history of both these countries. But the real highlight was doing a year abroad teaching English in Rome, I made lots of friends, visited some beautiful places, and ate A LOT of delicious pizza and ice cream!

I also did some modules outside of my degree in politics and international relations and for the three years that I was in Exeter I was very involved with Amnesty International and did a lot of campaigning against human rights abuses across the world, including a lot of work on gender equality and women’s rights, which is something I’m still passionate about.

When I left Exeter I was fortunate to get a paid internship with a small project in London called the MsUnderstood Project, working on young people’s experiences of gender inequality. Following this I worked briefly as a teaching assistant in a year 1 class, and in a bookshop as a Christmas Temp, and then got a job as a research assistant at the University of Bedfordshire where I stayed for two and a half years. My job there involved working with young people to think about the best ways of protecting children from harm, and how to improve services to make sure they listen to children and work in the best way to support children and young people.

All these experiences instilled in me a real desire to work to support young people to have their voices heard in a variety of settings, to make sure policies and systems work for young people, based on their expertise, and to work to challenge wider structural systems that typically exclude children and young people from power and decision making. When the opportunity came up to do a PhD in collaboration with RECLAIM, who are doing brilliant work on these issues, I thought this be a fantastic research project to work on, and so far it definitely has!

Going further...

  • For more information about Geography at MAnchester, visit the website:
  • Amnesty International UK is the organisation I first started working with when I was a student, to find out more about their work to protect human rights across the world you can check out their website here:
  • The MsUnderstood Project was set up to improve local and national responses to young people’s experiences of inequality. The project has now finished but you can find information about the project and a number of resources on their website:
  • The University of Bedfordshire have a number of resources, many created in collaboration with young people, aimed at improving support for young people who have experienced harm. You can find out more about their work here:
  • You can find out more about RECLAIM and the brilliant campaigning work they are doing here: 
  • A recent campaign run by young people at RECLAIM was the #IfWeDidThis campaign, you can watch the video here:
  • Kids of Colour is a Manchester-based organisation which provides a platform for young people of colour to explore race, identity and culture and challenge the everyday, institutionalised racism that shapes their lives. Their website has loads of brilliant videos and information about upcoming events (when these are back on):
  • If you are interested in campaigning work Campaign Bootcamp have interesting and informative blogs, along with other resources to help you get started:
  • To keep up with me, check ut my Univerisity of Manchester page:


It Matters That It Matters

by YPU Admin on April 3, 2020, Comments. Tags: bioethics, Health, Humanities, Law, patient safety, PhD, Philosophy, and Research


Hi, I'm Vicki. I'm a second year PhD student in Bioethics and Medical Jurisprudence here at the University of Manchester. I'm also part of the Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre - yes, it's a very long name! The 'translational' bit means that we are developing and testing new ideas and approaches to patient safety. My research aims to understand how effective our healthcare regulation system is at keeping patients safe when they leave hospital.

In Depth…

Before starting my PhD I studied for my undergraduate degree in Philosophy, and a master's degree in Healthcare Ethics and Law. I had no idea when I graduated with my Philosophy degree that I’d end up where I am now. I worked for a charity as a Fundraising Manager and studied for my master’s degree via distance-learning. My master’s was helpful for me in switching job roles – after graduating I spent a few years working for the General Medical Council, which regulates doctors in the UK. This really sparked my passion for healthcare ethics, regulation, and patient safety!

After that I applied for my PhD, which is funded by the National Institute of Health Research. Unlike a traditional PhD, my PhD is 'by publication'. This means that rather than writing one huge piece of writing, I produce a series of shorter articles to be published in academic journals. But these articles still need to relate to each other under a common theme! At the end, they will form the middle chapter of my PhD, sandwiched between an introduction and a conclusion.

One of the main aims of healthcare regulation is to keep patients safe. This is done by several different regulators in the UK. Some regulate healthcare professionals (like doctors and nurses), whilst others regulate healthcare providers (such as hospitals). The common theme of my research is how do all of these regulators make sure patients are kept safe when they leave hospitals? You might be surprised to learn that leaving hospital can be a really dangerous time for patients, especially the elderly! I’m nearly halfway through my research but I already have several ideas for how regulators could be doing more to keep patients safe.

A friend once said to me that when choosing her career 'it matters that it matters'.  She meant it was important that her work made a real difference to people's lives. It’s an odd quote but it sums up how I feel about my research! I hope that it will be useful in improving safety for patients at a time when they should be going safely home.

Going Further…

  • For a useful introduction to the variety of topics that philosophy examines, see here.
  • Visit this blog by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, to learn more about the field of bioethics.
  • You can read about my research centre here.
  • Find out more about the exciting work Greater Manchester are doing to improve patient safety.
  • For more information on distance-learning see here