Tag Archives: postgraduate

International Relations, Politics and Sociology annual postgraduate day proves to be a great success

003The International Relations, Politics and Sociology Programme held its Annual Postgraduate Day on 22 June 2016. This mini-conference was a showcase for work being done both by research students and the current MA International Studies cohort. Prospective MA students and online viewers were able to take part via livestream.

Dr Stephen Hurt, course lead for MA International Relations (formerly International Studies), reports that he was delighted to welcome Dr Juanita Elias (pictured, being introduced by Dr Molly Cohran) from the University of Warwick, where she is an Associate Professor in International Political Economy, for a lecture on ‘Gender, IPE and Labour Migration: Perspectives from South-East Asia’. Her lecture covered some of the key findings of her recent academic publications. Starting from the key feminist claim that a focus on social reproduction is vital, Juanita convincingly demonstrated how the role played by domestic workers is central to an understanding of the political economy of South-East Asia. In doing so she argued that social reproduction is becoming increasingly marketised, with states like Malaysia and Singapore encouraging inflows of migration to this effect.

“We are very grateful to Dr Elias for joining us and for prompting a very lively and interesting Q&A session after her lecture”

After the session broke for lunch, guests heard from three current doctoral research students from the department. Kian Pourkemani outlined some of the themes of his project, which is looking at the right of self-determination within international law. Huw Houssemayne Du Boulay set out the design of his research, which seeks to explore the ‘idea’ of Crimea and how this has varied over time in relation to notions of Russian national identity. Emily Cousens then spoke to some of the work she is doing on an interdisciplinary project with Philosophy on the concept of vulnerability within the history of feminist thought.

The International Relations, Politics and Sociology annual postgraduate day concluded with two sets of parallel panels where current MA students gave short presentations on their summer dissertation projects.

These presentations demonstrated the fascinating range of topics that our MA students are conducting research on. The following projects are just a sample to demonstrate the breadth of their interests:

  • ‘To what extent will the continued automation of labour impact social stratification in the global political economy?’.
  • ‘The relationship between scientific knowledge and political ecology in correcting environmental justice’.
  • ‘How a civil society organisation – Pelitit – is promoting food sovereignty and agro-ecological farming practices in Greece’.
  • ‘Producing in/security and its objects: discourse analysis of the reproduction of French citizen after the Charlie Hebdo attacks’.

Find out more about MA International Relations, or research at Oxford Brookes. Keep an eye on the Department of Social Sciences events page to take part in the next postgraduate day in June 2017.

More doctoral success for the Department of History, Philosophy and Religion in a record-breaking semester

PG graduation

Last week, Melanie Bashor successfully defended her doctoral thesis entitled “Engineering Tolerance: Origins of Multicultural Education Policies in the Atlantic World from 1941‒1988.

Melanie’s success rounds off a record-breaking semester for the Department of History, Philosophy and Religion, bringing the total of doctoral completions this year to ten.

Recent completions also include:

  • Dr Stephen Massie, “The Imperialism of Cecil John Rhodes: Metropolitan Perceptions of a Colonial Reputation.”
  • Dr Jenny Wright, “Public Health Women Doctors in England, 1965-1991.”
  • Dr Christine Bianco, “Modern Art for Middle America: American Abstraction in Mass Magazines, 1946–1960.” Director: Dr Elizabeth Darling
  • Dr Catriona Gilmour-Hamilton: “A Cohort of One: Oral Narratives of Cancer Research in Britain, 1970–2010.” Directors: Dr Viviane Quirke and Dr Marius Turda

“I’m absolutely delighted. Doctorates don’t happen overnight, of course, and the success we’re currently enjoying reflects years of hard work on the part of students and their supervisors right across the department”Dr Tom Crook, Postgraduate Research Tutor

“I’m absolutely delighted. Doctorates don’t happen overnight, of course, and the success we’re currently enjoying reflects years of hard work on the part of students and their supervisors right across the department,” said Dr Tom Crook, Postgraduate Research Tutor for the department.

“The good thing,” he added, “is that this hard work continues, and there are plenty more in the pipeline. So watch this space!”

The department of History, Philosophy and Religion has nine interconnected research communities, supporting our doctoral students and encouraging wide participation through partnerships, research centres, conferences and public events.

Further information about our current cohort of doctoral students, including student profiles, can be found here.


New! Fee-waiver scholarship now available for MA International Relations

Portuguese FPU's, Malaysian FPU's Internatioanl Stabilization Forces, ISF, together with the Rapid Intervention Unit from PNTL conducted a practical joint-exercise at the independance field in tasitolu creating scenario of demonstration that would increase the level of hostility for the police to train their tactics against rock throwing, cocktail molotov, burning tyres and demonstrators. Photo by Martine Perret/UNMIT. 17 March 2009.

An annual MA International Relations (all pathways) Fee Waiver Scholarship is available to an international student with suitable academic credentials. This will cover 100% of the tuition fees(£13,620) and is open to international students intending to start their course in September 2016. Applicants for the scholarship will need to hold an offer before submitting their scholarship form.

Find out more about our MA in International Relations programme here. An application form for the fee-waiver scholarship is available from and must be returned by midnight on Thursday 30th June 2016.

The MA in International Relations offers you the flexibility of choosing either our general programme, or one of three specialist pathways (Global Political Economy, Security and Environment) to suit your specific interests. Our postgraduate students benefit from being taught by a team of research-active scholars who publish in their areas of expertise.
In addition to the taught modules, students on our MA in International Relations also get the opportunity to go on a four-day study tour to Brussels and The Hague. Travel and accommodation are included in your fees, and this includes visits to key institutions of the European Union and a range of international organisations, including the International Criminal Court and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which was awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. This trip enables students to get a first-hand experience of how these important international institutions work.

You can find profiles of some of our former students at
For general sources of financial support at Oxford Brookes University, see:

Funding for Postgraduate students from the UK and EU
Funding for Postgraduate students from outside the EU

Christmas viva success for the Department of History, Philosophy and Religion

Experiencing smallpox in eighteenth-century England.

A sick man in bed, attended by a physician, and surrounded by members of his family weeping and praying. © The Wellcome Library, London

The week before Christmas witnessed another viva success for the Department of History, Philosophy and Religion, making for four completions so far this academic year.

This time it was the turn of Rosemary Leadbetter, who defended her thesis entitled “Experiencing smallpox in eighteenth-century England.” The disease has now been banished owing to twentieth-century advances in vaccination techniques and immunology; but it was still wreaking deadly havoc in the eighteenth century.

Rosemary focused on the disease in Oxfordshire, where, she argues, even before inoculation was practised, smallpox mortality in the county was being managed through tactics of containment and isolation. Rosemary also examined the role of the smallpox carer, revealing high levels of stress but also resilience thanks to integrated and reciprocal support. Spousal, parental and kinship networks were all vital components of care.

The internal examiner was Dr Viviane Quirke, and the two externals were Professor Steven King (University of Leicester) and Dr Michael Brown (Roehampton University).

Rosemary’s project was directed by Professor Joanne Begiato and Dr Alysa Levene, with further supervisory input from Dr Katherine Watson.

Thrilled with her student’s achievement, Alysa Levene said:

“Professor Begiato and I are very proud of Rosemary’s success, which represents the end of six years’ hard work as a part-time PhD student (and the birth of four grandchildren!). She’s also made a contribution to the department as an Associated Lecturer throughout her PhD and we’re delighted that she can now ask her students to call her Dr Leadbeater!”


Applications for the Sasakawa postgraduate studentship in Japanese studies are now open!


The Department of Social Sciences, Oxford Brookes University is pleased to invite applications for the Sasakawa Postgraduate Studentship in Japanese studies, made possible through the generosity of The Nippon Foundation and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation.

The department can nominate candidates for the MPhil/PhD or Masters by Research for a studentship of £10,000. This studentship is initially for one year only, but may be renewable subject to satisfactory progress in subsequent years, up to a maximum of three years, beginning in September of the 2016/17 academic year. Please note that you will be required to reapply for the studentship each year, and that the GBSF will consider these applications on their merits. The GBSF cannot make a recurrent three year commitment to any one PhD candidate from year one.

For the successful MPhil/PhD candidates, Oxford Brookes is able to offer a further studentship of £7000, in addition to the Sasakawa studentship. This is also initially for one year, renewable subject to satisfactory progress, up to a maximum of three years. Please note that this does not apply to Masters by Research students.

 Please note that although you may use your studentship to help towards the cost of your fees, you will be responsible for paying your fees each year. International applicants should be aware that they will need to fund their fees at the international rate.

Candidate Criteria:

  • The research proposal must focus on Japan.
  • It is important that you and your referees comment on your skill in Japanese in the areas of reading, composition and speaking.
  • Interviews may partly be conducted in conversational Japanese.
  • Candidates must have submitted an application for admission by the Studentship application deadline.

MPhil/PhD candidates must have:

  • a good first degree (a good 2:1 or above) or are predicted to obtain one.
  • completed a degree with a substantive anthropology content or in Japanese studies and have a sufficient level of Japanese language ability to engage in fieldwork in Japan (normally this should be equivalent to JLPT level 2 or above).

A Masters is desirable, but we will consider candidates without a Masters who can demonstrate the ability to engage in substantial independent research.

Part-time programmes are not eligible.

Masters by Research candidates must have a good first degree (a good 2:1 or above) or are predicted to obtain one.

Applicants may be of any nationality, but Masters degree applicants must be either UK citizens (regardless of their current residency) or settled in the UK or have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years immediately preceding the start of their MA course.

How to apply:

You will need to follow the standard university application procedure. Please contact the Research Administrator Terri Morris: for further details.

Deadline: The closing date for applications is 17:00 on Monday 29th February 2016

Doctorate success for the Department of History, Philosophy and Religion

London Illustrated News, 1883

London Illustrated News, 1883

Congratulations to Mary O’Neill, who last week successfully defended her PhD thesis, entitled “Model Citizens: Fisherfolk imagery from West Cornwall, 1860-1910.”

The thesis recovers the ways largely metropolitan artists depicted Cornish fishing culture during the mid- to late Victorian period; or rather, as Mary argued, selectively packaged this culture for an urban art market hungry for images of a “real” – but in fact romanticised- Cornwall.

Mary’s research was supported by a prestigious AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award, and was directed by Professor Christiana Payne, with further advice from Dr Matthew Craske and Dr Peter Forsaith.

After the exam, a delighted- and relieved- Mary joined her supervisors, examiners and fellow students for some celebratory drinks in the Tonge common room. A fine start to the festive season for all concerned!

Speaking about Mary’s success, Tom Crook, the Postgraduate Research Tutor, said:

“This is a wonderful achievement for Mary, and we’re very proud not just of her brilliant thesis but also her contribution to our postgraduate research community in both the Department of History, Philosophy and Religion and English and Modern Languages – she will be much missed.”

Mary is the third student this semester from the Department of History, Philosophy and Religion to obtain a doctorate.

Oxford Brookes creative writing student debuts her first novel on innovative publishing platform


Klara Piechocki-Brown, an MA Creative Writing student at Brookes, is crowdfunding her debut novel, The Death of Poppy Kusch, on innovative publishing platform Unbound.

Klara has been working as a writer and illustrator for 10 years. From gathering a large online following as a teenage author, to working as a screenwriter in the US and writing a weekly column for LA Cityzine, she is now halfway through a Creative Writing MA at Oxford Brookes University.

Her writing and art is preoccupied with how deliciously diverse we all are, while celebrating what makes us the same. Playful, thoughtful and sometimes dark, she shines light into murkier places with a reassuring tone. Klara identifies as both genderqueer and bisexual and is passionate about LGBT activism, especially encouraging accurate portrayals of bisexual and transgender characters in the media. Endlessly curious, Klara loves to know how things work; she particularly loves non-fiction science, psychology and history books.

It was at the start of second year of her MA when she decided to pitch her novel about a broody time traveller to Unbound. Now she’s sharing a platform with authors such as Julie Burchill, Stephen Fry, Steven Gerard and Tamsin Day-Lewis. Klara’s writing has often been compared to Angela Carter and David Lynch; rich with imagery and sometimes unsettling.

Poppy Kusch, a time travelling immigrant from the 1920s escaping scandal, lives quietly in modern day Oxford as a neonatal nurse with her family; three lovers who are also time travellers. After watching her future self die childless, Poppy pays to take part in a controversial study to artificially raise her luck in order to conceive a baby. When her family die as a result she must evade the Corporation as they try to stop her rewriting history to save them.

Unbound is both a funding platform and a publisher: the author pitches an idea and if enough readers support it, the book goes ahead. The reader helps great ideas get published, and in return receives an insight into the writing process and has their name printed as a patron in that and every subsequent edition.

“I’m equally thrilled and terrified to be doing this”, says Klara. “It feels incredibly vulnerable putting my writing out there, especially campaigning to get it funded! I designed a character who is very unlike me, but you still worry that you’ll accidentally show people too much of yourself, like not realising that your skirt is tucked into your knickers. My book explores themes of grief, nostalgia and faith. It’s a look at how irresistible the past can be- especially if you had the power to step back into it instead of moving on. In my novel’s world, time travellers apply for visas to stay in the modern day, so my protagonist Poppy is a time travelling immigrant. I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from current events in the UK, and I’ve really had fun mimicking the headlines that a certain newspaper would write if time travellers really were landing here!”

“While planning the book I was worried that with the state of the publishing industry these days that my book might be too high a risk (as it features an LGBT ethically non-monogamous heroine) but Unbound is enabling me to reach potential readers who want to read books that feature less traditional plots. The celebrity authors on the site have come to it for the same reason, to write the books they want to write.”

Klara also works as an illustrator, and her writing shed (her blog only available to patrons of the book) promises to be full of drawings of her characters and settings.

To become a patron of Klara’s book and help it become fully published, you can head to the book’s funding page.

MA English alumni Highly Commended for the Bridport prize 2015!


Sarah Taylor has been Highly Commended for the 2015 Bridport Prize, Flash Fiction category for a piece called Good at Crisps. The category imposes a limit of 250 words, leading author Patrick Gale, 2012 Bridport Prize judge, to describe Flash Fiction as the “love child’ of poetry and the short story. Sarah was also shortlisted for another piece of Flash Fiction entered in the same competition. A total of 2141 stories were received this year of which 50 were shortlisted and an anthology of the winning entries produced.

The award ceremony was held on Saturday 17 October during Bridport Open Book week, with established and widely published authors such as Roger McGough, Jane Feaver and Jane Rogers handing out the prizes. The Open Book week included a reading with the three judges and various other events and workshops.

Following her first degree in French Literature from the University of Kent, Sarah studied for an Undergraduate Diploma in Creative Writing at Oxford University. In that time she wrote a one-act play called ‘Death on the Turnpike’ which is open to performance for Drama students looking for a gory, bloodthirsty play packed with villains, murder and gibbets – do email Sarah if you’re an interested student! Sarah then completed a full-time MA in English at Oxford Brookes University where she studied between 2013 and 2014.

Studying at Brookes was amazing, truly a life-changing experience. That sounds really dramatic but it’s how I feel. I loved engaging with critical theory and it was exciting to look at literature through so many different lenses. Although certainly a steep learning curve, I felt constantly stimulated and left our amazing seminars each week with my head spinning with new ideas and new ways of looking at not just literature but at the world! Working on my dissertation was a curious mixture of total agony and incredible breakthroughs that made me feel wow, I can do this! The Brookes tutors were brilliant – so passionate about their subjects and an absolute inspiration.

Sarah’s MA dissertation was entitled ‘Post-war Masculinity and the Imaginative Annihilation of Motherhood’, and her interests lie in post-war fiction and drama – Northern writing in particular. Sarah currently lives near Thame, but her roots – and much of the inspiration for her writing – are back in her native Nottingham, as reflected by her story written in a Nottingham dialect entitled Popping Your Cherry; itself highly commended in the Flash Fiction category of the Bridport Prize in 2012. Sarah describes Flash Fiction as perfect to fit around a busy life with three children, including working at Oxford Brookes as an Academic Support Worker for two days a week. Around this, her biggest goal in the coming year is to finish her first novel.
Contact Sarah:

Published in – Bridport Prize 2012 Anthology – Highly Commended with Popping your Cherry in Flash Fiction category.

Published in – Bus Pass Britain Rides Again with a chapter Love on the 159, a poignant look back at Sarah’s daily commute from Streatham to the West End of London on the 159 routemaster bus.

Published in Bridport Prize 2015 Anthology  – Highly Commended with Good at Crisps in Flash Fiction category.

Rare footage of young orangutan and gibbon’s playtime captured by Oxford Brookes postgraduate student

InterspeciesPlayBlogPotential4Rare video footage of a young wild orangutan and gibbon playing together has been captured by an Oxford Brookes postgraduate student. The two youngsters can be seen enthusiastically tickling, wrestling and chasing each other in the canopy of the rainforest.

Tom Lloyd captured the footage in the Borneo jungle while taking part in a long-term research and conservation project by the Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project (OuTrop) in the Sabangau peat-swamp Forest in Indonesian Borneo.

The intelligent primates are normally competitors, sharing habitat and food in the jungle, but usually preferring to stay out of each others way. When they meet they are far more likely to fight than to play, so researchers were surprised to discover these two young apes – affectionately known as Fio the orangutan and Chilli the gibbon – apparently having such a great time together.

Tom, who is studying a master’s degree in Primate Conservation at Oxford Brookes said: “What started off as a typical day in the forest, turned into something special when an Indonesian field researcher and I came across the pair play-fighting. We stood there in awe; amazed by these two individuals from different species just doing what youngsters do…having fun!”

Dr Susan Cheyne, OuTrop Director of Gibbon Research, has worked at the Sabangau research site for over 10 years; “Having spent so much time studying these apes you would think you’d have seen everything that the forest has to offer, but it never ceases to surprise us! We believe this is one of the first times that play between these two primate species has been videoed in the wild. It is an exciting discovery. It reminds us that we still have a lot to learn about these popular species, particularly orangutans which some may think are well-studied.”

One of the most important rainforests left of the island of Borneo, the Sabangau Forest is home to the world’s largest population of orangutans and many thousands of gibbons. Both these species are highly endangered because of the rapid destruction of their forest home for the international trade in palm-oil and timber. Despite legal protection, the forest is threatened by dry-season forest fires that are expected to be especially fierce in 2015. Left unchecked, these fires will put all of Sabangau’s wildlife in danger.

Dr Cheyne is mindful of the threats: “Fires in tropical rainforests aren’t a natural occurrence, but are the result of human activity from clearing adjacent land for development. Fires get out of control and spread quickly, so all of our efforts right now are going into supporting a local community fire-fighting team to find and put out these fires. At times like this, when we are facing serious threats, we worry about the orangutans and gibbons like Fio and Chilli who we have come to know.”

More information about primate conservation postgraduate courses or research can be found on the Department of Social Sciences webpages.

You can read Tom’s blog post about this amazing encounter and see the video footage at

Image credit: Tom Lloyd, OuTrop