‘Brexit means Brexit!’. The words of the
former Prime Minister, Theresa May, in June 2016, on the steps of the UK
Parliament. But what does Brexit mean?
Hello, my name is Adam. I’m a first year
History PhD student here at The University of Manchester and my research aims
to understand the historical origins of euro-scepticism in the UK. The
2016 referendum produced a political crisis. The Vote Leave campaign narrowly
‘won’ 51.9 to 49.1 on a turnout of 72%. Questions of what it means to be a
member of the EU, a member of The Conservatives, and much more broadly the
British democratic system have been thrown into focus.
For me, my interest in political history was
sparked at a young age. I grew up with the backdrop of the Iraq War — campaigning
as a part of the ‘Stop the War’ coalition. I was able to see how Politics has
the ability to reshape our world, for better and for worse. Understanding the
decisions taken in Westminster – and in constituencies – is therefore important
I am at the beginning of my research into euro-scepticism
but already there are some important questions that have emerged. For example,
why did the UK government, at the time, decide to use an open-question
referendum rather than, say, a referendum on specific outcomes? Euro-scepticism
is a subject that crosses traditional political boundaries but why? How far did
‘political education’, or lack of education, play in the mind of the voter? Did
one group particularly benefit from worries of Europeanism? How far did the
media present an unquestioning approach to scare stories?
I am in a slightly unusual position to be studying Brexit.
As a historian, there is a tendency to look to events that are settled,
although may be contested by historians! Yet, with the near daily developments
with the UK’s exit from the European Union there is a wealth of new material
emerging. This helps keep my research current, but it also throws up its own
challenges in how I approach the topic.
Understanding political decisions is important for me. I
returned to Manchester to complete a Master’s Degree (immediately before this
Ph.D.) after a number of years in the ‘professional world’. It gave me an
insight into the concerns and ambitions of businesses, yet I knew that I wanted
to further explore my curiosity for History. After decided that I would leave
my job, I quickly rediscovered my love of learning and had a wonderful
opportunity to meet some amazing people (both academics and friends) who
encouraged me to pursue my interest in historical politics further.
Ultimately, I would really like my project to contribute to
a much more detailed understanding of how and why political decisions are
taken. In this, I hope to contribute through various policy platforms and forums
with the aim of ensuring that regional voices are included as much as ‘dominant
narratives’ of the ‘Westminster Bubble’.
Looking for further information about Brexit can feel a
little overwhelming, trust me. However, understanding the origins of
euro-scepticism allows us to narrow the field a little and there are some
brilliant resources and blogs which help unpack the subject. For my experience,
an excellent starting place is the ‘Britain in a Changing Europe’ Research
Project run by Professor Anand Menon (https://ukandeu.ac.uk/).
As an academic resource, it is thoroughly fact-checked and many of the
contributors regularly appear in the media.
For a little further clarification of key terms and some of
the ideas often discussed alongside Brexit (such as sovereignty, trade policy,
and the Northern Irish ‘backstop’) see the London School of Economics and
Political Science Brexit Blog (https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexit/).
Another resource that I regularly use is the BBC’s fantastic ‘Brexitcast’ (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05299nl).
Presented as a podcast (although now on TV as well) the podcast is a really
informal way to get the inside track on news and gossip from the UK and Europe.
My name is Charlotte Coull, and I’m a third year PhD student
at the University of Manchester in the History Department. I did both my
undergraduate degree and my Master’s degree at Manchester before being lucky
enough after applying to be offered funding by the History department to
complete my PhD here.
I look comparatively at the history of archaeology in India
and Egypt in the nineteenth century. Many people walk away with the idea that I
am an archaeologist when I first explain my topic to them - however I am most
definitely a historian and there is
no digging involved in my work!
One of the most interesting things about research is that
your topic and focus can change over time; as you read more, you become more
aware of what has already been said about your subject, and most importantly
you start to see different ways of looking at things and different ideas to
pull out of your original material. This sounds intimidating, and you do need
to be careful that you eventually find a path and stick with it (otherwise you
will never get any work done!), but it can also be exciting. You have the
opportunity to create something completely unique that will stand out from the
When I started my PhD, I knew I wanted to look at
archaeology over a broad time and I knew I wanted my project to be comparative.
My idea was to look for changes over time whilst looking at how and
archaeologists reacted differently to what they found in India and Egypt - did
they prefer Egyptian artefacts to Indian ones for example? All that hasn’t
really changed. But what I have done is focused on stone.
Nineteenth century archaeologists in both countries
discovered lots of things, including bones and pottery, but it was stone that
really caught their attention in the form of temples, tombs, monuments and
megaliths. Stone can be hundreds, maybe thousands, of years old; it can be in
ruins or almost perfect; it can be huge, intimidating and strange because the
people that used it, the people who built things from it in ancient times, are
gone and cannot explain it. Take a look at the images here: this is the stone
nineteenth century archaeologists would have found in India and Egypt, but unlike
today they did not have technology like radiocarbon dating to tell them how old
it was. They often did not know who built things or how.
Three years ago, I didn’t know this. I had not done the
reading that told me that archaeologists in the 1800s were so perplexed by
stone - it was only as my project progressed that I started to notice this and
plan my work around it. Now my whole PhD thesis is looking at how
archaeologists knew what they knew about Indian and Egyptian stone - or what
they didn’t know.
To do this I work mainly with published material from the
nineteenth century. I look at the language archaeologists used to talk about
the sites they studied and the information they presented in these books and
journal articles to their fellow archaeologists. If an archaeologist has
written about how he found Indian temples confusing because they look so
different to what he is used to in Britain, then it’s in my work; if an
archaeologist has written about how amazingly old the Egyptian pyramids are and
how spectacular it is to look at something so ancient, then it’s in my work.
History is a subject with so much potential to let you get
creative and push the boundaries - your work can evolve with your thinking and
reflect your changing interests!
http://trowelblazers.com/ - a wonderful website with blog
posts about female pioneers in archaeology and other science fields. Click on
the articles tab and explore! I would particularly recommend Hilda Petrie and
Adela Catherine Breton.
http://www.asi.nic.in/ - not many people know much about
India's archaeological history. This is the website of the Archaeological
Survey of India- take a look at the 'photo gallery' tab and check out the
massive variety of Indian archaeological sites!
My name is Dayo and I am a second
year PhD student at the University studying Politics. I am researching how
underrepresented members of the public in policy making (in the case of my
research, Black and Minority Ethnic young adults aged 18 – 25) are included in
the process of policy making. I also work as a teaching assistant for politics
related courses in undergraduate and Master’s level courses.
My route into PhD has been an
interesting journey rather than a direct path. It has been a process of
re-inventing myself and following my passion. My undergraduate degree was in
Economics which I realised quite early on was not for me so I did not
particularly excel in this degree. After a year out working, I figured out what
my next steps would be so I did Master’s degrees in Human Resource Management
and Management Psychology. I did well in these courses. Doing a PhD was
something I had previously considered as it was suggested by my academic
adviser during one of my Master’s degrees but I did not pursue it.
On graduating, I worked for about seven
years in the private and not-for-profit sectors in Learning and Organisational
Development. The knowledge and soft skills I gained at university meant that I
was able to progress in my career by successfully utilising these skills.
Whilst I had no academic knowledge
of policy making, I began to get interested in policy making as one of my jobs
gave me exposure to this field. I then started to notice the lack of diverse
representation in decision making bodies of public policy. There were ‘hidden’
and ‘silent’ groups of people who were not getting involved in decision-making.
I wanted to know why this was the
case and also find solutions that would increase representation in policy
making so that their experiences of issues could be taken into account when
policy is being made.
Transitioning from being a
practitioner to being back in university has been great; it has given me the
opportunity to have the headspace to read and articulate the issues I am
concerned about. I am doing lots of reading! What is also great and a highlight
of my degree is that my fieldwork - working with real people in the real world
- provides the opportunity to design an approach based on academic theories and
study whether it works or not.
Skills gained from the practitioner
work, in particular project management skills (time and resource management as
well as organisational), are helping me progress with my PhD.
Through my journey, I have
hopefully shown that a route to doing a PhD in Politics does not have to be
typical. I have also shown that political parties and elections is just one
component of a Politics degree.
So if you want to be the change, a
degree in Politics could be for you!
If you are interested in finding
out more about politics, here are some links you may find useful.
Politics degrees in Manchester: https://www.socialsciences.manchester.ac.uk/politics/study/courses/
Career options as a Politics
Information about how Government works: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/
Information on the UK Parliament: http://www.parliament.uk/
How research impacts on Policy: http://www.policy.manchester.ac.uk/blogs/
Hi, my name is Kim Petersen and I’m a second year PhD
student at the Manchester Institute of Education (MIE).
My PhD research focusses on primary school children’s mental
health and wellbeing. I am interested in looking at lots of different aspects
of children’s mental health and wellbeing (e.g. feeling sad, angry, happy,
enjoying life etc.) and finding common
patterns of mental health and wellbeing. I want to find out:
1) what causes the different
patterns of mental health
2) whether behaviour programmes
used in schools affect children’s mental health
I hope this information will help us to find ways to improve
children’s mental health and wellbeing in the future.
How did I get here?
After my A-levels I went to Glasgow University to do a
degree in Psychology. I went on to work for a charity, supporting children with
different neurological conditions, like autism spectrum disorder. Then, I did a
PGCE teacher training qualification and worked as a primary school teacher. While
working as a teacher I became really interested in children’s mental health and
wellbeing and what schools could do to try and improve it. So, I decided to go
back to university to do research in
this area. First, I did a Master’s degree in Psychology and Education and then I
applied to do a research PhD. I didn’t always know that I would end up doing
this, but my experiences and interests sort of led me here, and I really enjoy
what I am doing.
What is mental health?
Mental health is a term we have all heard of, but what does
it actually mean? Sometimes, when people talk about ‘mental health’, they are
only talking about mental health disorders, like depression or schizophrenia.
Today, many researchers, and others, think that mental health is more than
this. As well as mental health difficulties, there are also positive aspects of
mental health like feeling good and satisfied with your life. There is a widely
held statistic that ‘1 in 4 people have mental health problems’. However, 4 out of 4 people have mental health because 4 out of 4 people have brains! In other words
mental health is something we all have and we should focus on helping everyone
gain better mental health and wellbeing.
I am investigating mental health in this broad way, which
includes both mental health problems and positive aspects of mental wellbeing. We collected information about children’s
mental health and wellbeing by giving surveys to around 3000 primary school children
and their teachers. We also collected other information about the children,
like whether they were male or female, how they felt about their school, their
relationships with other children, their school grades, and whether they had
taken part in a school behaviour programme.
To make sense of all the information collected I use a
computer programme to help me to find patterns in the data. For example, I can
use the programme to see if there are some groups of children who show very
similar patterns of mental health. I can then look at what other characteristics
these children have. For example, if I found a group of children that had no
mental health problems but felt very happy and satisfied with life, I could
find out if those children were more likely to be male or female, have better relationships with their friends,
or have taken part in a school behaviour programme, compared to other
groups. The aim is to identify what might be important for good mental health
and wellbeing so that we can try to improve children’s mental health in the
Why is this kind of research important?
Improving children’s mental health has been highlighted as
an important issue in the UK. The government has said that schools have an
important role to play in doing this. Research is needed to show what schools
can do to try and improve children’s mental health and wellbeing.
Find out more about children’s mental health and wellbeing
on these charities’ webpages:
The Good Childhood Report provides information about what
children and young people say about their own mental health and wellbeing:
This is a summary of a recent government proposal for how to
improve children’s mental health and wellbeing:
Here is a link to the Manchester Institute of Education so
you can see what courses we offer and what research we do:
My name is Josefina Fabiani and I
am a second year PhD student in Economics. I come from Argentina, South
America, which may sound more familiar to those not that much into geography if
I refer to it as the land of beef – specially asados – tango, Patagonia, football and of course Messi and Kun Agüero
(not to get into politics and economics!). During my undergrad there I did a
semester abroad in Austria, which completely influenced my future decisions.
That experience opened my mind and made me realise I wanted to pursue further
studies abroad. The UK wasn’t a tough decision for me since the quality of its
higher education institutions is well known and I’ve always been very keen on the
English language, the country’s history and culture (and its music!).
So here I am, starting my PhD in
Economics in Manchester, where I will analyse the relationship between
migration and different types of capital flows between countries.
The first year of the PhD was the MSc
Economics, where we covered the main areas of the subject and received training
on the techniques I will apply now on the research. In this second year, we
continue with the coursework but now focused on our research area and at an
advanced level. For example, my area is Macroeconomics, where we look at the
economy as a whole with information on different measures such as GDP,
inflation and unemployment.
A phenomenon that has always
interested me was the migration of people from one country to another, maybe
because I come from a country with a very large population of immigrants. Early
on my undergrad studies I started digging into the topic.
Throughout history, migrations have
taken place at different levels, for different reasons: regional migrations,
overseas migrations, forced (by political persecution or natural disasters) or
voluntary, expecting an economic or life improvement. In the era of
globalization and communication, transportation costs have remarkably dropped,
which fostered not only the flow of goods and knowledge across countries but
also of people. However, whereas there is an apparent consensus to enhance
international trade and capital flows, the economic consequences of immigration
are at the centre of political debate. Migration policy has been characterized
by protection of the domestic labour market and there has been an increasing
negative popular perception of immigration. A better understanding of the
dynamics of migration and its macroeconomic implications are key for policy
If you are curious to know a little
bit more about what economists really do, then you are invited to take part on
the activities organised at the Economics Department for school students. Some
of them are:
Manchester Talk – IFS
"Is it fair to charge £9,250 for university tuition fees?"
13 March 2019, 4-6pm, Uni Place Theatre A
How much will you really pay for university?
Does that depend on where and what you study? Are there any alternative ways to
fund higher education? And how would these affect what the education system
should be trying to achieve?
This IFS Public Talk, jointly organised with the
University of Manchester, will be given by Jack Britton, Senior Research Economist at
the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)
and will give an economist's perspective on the ongoing tuition fee
debate. Nicholas Barr, Professor of
Public Economics, from the London School of Economics and Political Science
(LSE) will also be our Chair and on hand to put your questions to Jack.
Get an insight on Higher Education resources from the
Details and free tickets can be booked here: https://manchester-talk-ifs.eventbrite.co.uk
There is a pre-session aimed at
Year 12/13 students that fulfil the Widening Participation criteria
). Please email email@example.com
for more information and registration.
Discover Economics Day
9 July 2019, 9.30am-3.30pm, Simon 1.34
The Discover Economics Day is a
free event for Year 12 students to discover more about what economics is really
The day will consist of a series of
interactive, educational sessions to help you find out what economists do as
you start to learn the tools that they use to ask real world questions. You
will discover how economics provides a clear way of thinking on how people make
You will meet University staff and
students dealing with the current issues in economics and will find out more about
the economics courses here at Manchester and the career opportunities available
for Economics graduates.
Join us and discover how studying
economics will give you the toolkit to investigate the questions that you are
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
for further info and registrations.
• http://freakonomics.com (also radio!)
YouTube Channels and Videos:
• Jacob Clifford
• One Minute Economics
• Ted Ed
You can find more of Economics at UoM here https://www.socialsciences.manchester.ac.uk/economics/
and keep updated with the activities organized via twitter https://twitter.com/ManUniEconomics