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
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
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
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
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!
name is Alina, and I am a first-year PhD student in Linguistics. The most
common two questions I get asked when I say this are: “What is Linguistics?”
and “How many languages do you speak?” So, I’ll begin by answering these.
Linguistics is the “scientific study of language”. It is a vast discipline, but
some examples of what linguists are interested in are: how grammars are
constructed, how language changes, what the similarities and differences are between
the languages of the world, how children and adults learn languages, how people’s
use of language varies according to social factors (gender, age, context etc.),
how the order of words in a sentence gives that sentence meaning, the list goes
for the second question, being a linguist does not automatically mean you speak tons of languages (though some do)!
I speak French, I am learning Spanish, and I understand Reunion Creole, which
is the language that my PhD research is on. Reunion Creole is spoken on the
island of La Réunion, a French overseas department (next to Mauritius, in the
Indian Ocean). Creole languages are relatively new languages (compared to
English or French, for example) which arise when groups of speakers with
different native tongues are found in a situation where they need to
communicate with one another. This happened in La Réunion when French
colonisers settled on the island and imported slaves from Madagascar and East
Africa. Later, immigrants from India and China came to the island to work. Over
the subsequent generations, the language formed through the interaction of
these groups of speakers. It is now the native language of the majority of the
island, spoken alongside French. Many of the words in Reunion Creole are
derived from French words, so it may sound familiar to a French speaker, but
the grammars of the two languages are different.
Cap Noir, La Réunion: here’s
a picture which shows you the beautiful mountainous landscape of La Reunion
how did I find myself doing a PhD on this topic?! I have always had a
fascination for foreign languages, and just words in general, which led me to study
French at undergraduate level. During my degree, I chose modules in French
Linguistics and really enjoyed them. I enjoy the discipline as it applies the
scientific rigour and logic of the Sciences and Maths, to an inherently social
phenomenon: language. In the third year of my degree, I got the opportunity to
go on a year abroad. I chose to study in La Réunion, and it was there that I
discovered Reunion Creole. On returning,
I decided I wanted to continue studying and explore the subject of Linguistics
in more depth with an MA and PhD.
PhD project investigates the syntax and focus structure of Reunion Creole. This
is essentially how the word order of a sentence can be manipulated to change its
emphasis and by consequence, its meaning. And what is the point in this
research? Firstly, a better understanding of the mechanics of individual
languages enables us to make comparisons with the languages of the world. This
in turn allows us to better understand the faculty of language, which is a
fundamental part of our existence. Secondly, knowledge of the technicalities of
a language also enables us to better teach it in the classroom. In La Réunion,
Reunion Creole is an officially recognised regional language and French is the
national language. Historically, French has been more highly regarded and
continues to be the language of the law, administration and schooling. Like many creole languages, Reunion Creole
has not always been highly regarded with respect to French, despite it being
the native language of the majority of the island. A person’s mother tongue is
a fundamental part of their identity, so I consider it very important that it
be valued. Furthermore, research has suggested that bilingualism has cognitive
benefits, which may reduce the likelihood of dementia, for example. It is
therefore imperative that bilingualism is encouraged, so any research promoting
historically undervalued languages serves this purpose.
La plage de
l’Ermitage, La Réunion.
you’re interested in languages generally, there are plenty of resources that may
feed your curiosity:
Grand Bénare, La
the top of a hike in La Réunion – above the clouds!
My name is Richard, and I am a third year PhD student in
Religions and Theology. After finishing
my A Levels way back in 1997, I studied English Literature for my first degree
at university. I then did my teaching
qualification and taught English, history and religious studies at school and
college level for 8 years. Four years
ago I decided to go back to study at Manchester and did my Masters and then
PhD. In addition to this, I am an
ordained priest in the Open Episcopal Church
, a small liberal catholic denomination.
In the same way that people might study metaphors in plays,
poems or novels, I am studying them in the Bible – particularly in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. This is an important area of study, because
the metaphors used affect the way that readers think or feel about what is
written. Also, the Bible could be seen
to be very different from other literature because people use it to guide them
in what they do in their lives.
What is a metaphor?
This is a question that stirs up a lot of debate, and some people argue
that all language is possibly metaphor.
However, for simplicity, let us take the example from Shakespeare’s
Romeo and Juliet when Romeo says “Juliet is the sun”. Here, Romeo is comparing the lovely Juliet to
the big ball of gas in the sky that provides light and warmth. What picture do you think that paints of
Juliet’s characteristics, the way she looks, how she is as a person? Maybe the reader would think that Juliet is
very important to Romeo, like the sun is to the earth, or that she provides him
with emotional warmth.
Now, imagine if Romeo instead compared Juliet to an iceberg
– what a different picture that would create!
This could be very negative, making her seem emotionally cold and
uncaring, or even dangerous or cruel!
So, you can see from this basic example how important
metaphors are in affecting the meaning of a text. The Bible is a text that has caused a lot of
debate, argument and fighting over its meaning.
Where we think metaphors are used in the Bible, it is important that we
consider what those metaphors may or may not mean.
Let us take an example from Romans in the New Testament of
the Bible, which was originally written in Greek. In
Romans 4:3, it says that because Abraham believed God’s promises, God
“accounted” to him that he was a righteous person (meaning someone who is decent,
good or doing things right). Notice here
the word “accounted” (logizomai in
Greek), which is often used in business or economics – think about the job of
The question I am asking is this – how does this metaphor of
accounting add to the meaning? Is it
just used for the sake of it, or does it mean that God is prepared to pay
Abraham back for his faith with some kind of spiritual reward – maybe something
lovely in heaven, or some kind of authority or power on earth? If we look at this from an economic
perspective, this puts God in debt to the believer, and thus makes the role of
the believer seem more important than some Christians might be comfortable
with. As such, this work has the
potential to create a lot of controversy.
Although, if the Bible is to be studied honestly then those who study it
cannot and must not always try and avoid offending people who don’t like what
they might say about it. All study must
be objective and free.
Despite this controversy, studying metaphor in the Bible
might help us to understand it much better, and also help us to answer some of
the really big questions about what the Bible tells us about God, Christ and
Christian religion – whether we are believers, non-believers or those who are
A great all round website for information on all faiths is
the BBC Religion website
The BBC also has a schools version of this website useful
for teachers and students alike.
Britkid is an interesting website that shows different
religions from the point of view of children.
For those studying religion at GCSE level, the BBC's Bitesize provides useful revision help.
To see copies of texts of all faiths, Sacred Texts has a
For teachers, but also interesting for A Level students,
there is RE Online.
For A Level students wanting to look at university level
papers and articles, the New Testament Gateway is worth a look.
The University of Manchester Religions and Theology website is a must for information about religions and theology courses offered by the University. And you can see what Francesca, another PhD student, is researching in her earlier blog post for the YPU.
A visit to the Manchester Museum Greco-Roman exhibition is
also highly recommended, as well as the John Rylands Library on Deansgate
for special collections relating to religion.
The Brightside Trust also provides information about studying for a degree in Religious Studies.