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Denise Greenfield PhD English

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Hi, I'm Denise Greenfield and I studied PhD English within Humanities at the University of Southampton.

As a postgraduate student, I enjoy having a bit more flexibility in how I study, and I especially enjoy the independence I’m given to explore different avenues in my research.

I have had a life-long interest in books and have wanted to go back to school to study English for about 20 years. I have always been interested in fiction from the American South, and whilst doing my MA at Southampton, I became interested in literature from South Africa. I’ve found a way to combine these two interests in my PhD research.

First and foremost, the University has an excellent reputation. I am American, but have lived in England for several years. When I began to research various universities that were somewhat close to my home in Salisbury, I was pleased to learn of Southampton. It appeared to offer a friendly, supportive intellectual environment and a wide range of courses from which to choose. I was very lucky to find a first rate school that is only about 45 minutes from where I live.

An 'adventurous' programme

I did an MA in English and am now studying for a PhD in English. I researched English at Southampton, and realised that in addition to its excellent ratings in both teaching and research, it offers an English degree that is very ‘adventurous.’ One is able to study English on its own or combine it with other disciplines such as film, history, or music (to name a few). The interdisciplinary nature of the programme was one of the reasons I choose the English degree.

I have especially enjoyed the classroom environment. Before enrolling at Southampton, I took an online English course. Though I certainly enjoyed the experience, I found I missed interacting with other students and with the faculty. I suppose what I really enjoy most is the constant exposure to new ideas and new ways of thinking, and the development of my own skills in independent research at both the MA and PhD level.

Independent study

Studying at postgraduate level is what I expected, and more. As a postgraduate student, I enjoy having a bit more flexibility in how I study, and I especially enjoy the independence I’m given to explore different avenues in my research. It is hard work, but I receive excellent supervision and am continually encouraged to chart my own course as a postgraduate student.

I returned to study after almost 25 years, and I am enjoying the experience immensely. I found that after many years in the work place, I missed being in school, and feel extremely lucky to be back doing something I love at this stage in my life. I would encourage anyone who is thinking of going back to school, even after a long absence, to take the plunge, it’s worth it!

I am certainly interested in careers events, and try to attend events and workshops as often as I am able. As I am a ‘mature’ student (about 25 years older than the average undergrad at Southampton) and retired from one career already, I am not as interested in work experience placements as I’m sure many younger students might be. These are excellent services offered by the University, however, and I’d encourage anyone who is interested to take advantage of them.

Once I complete my PhD, I hope to pursue a career in academia teaching at university level. Many years ago I had an opportunity to teach at a university in the United States for a few years, and I loved it. I have had such inspiring supervision in my postgraduate journey at Southampton, I’d like to try and do the same for other students - both undergraduates and postgraduates alike.

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