Emma Cooke

Sociology PhD

Studying at PG level opened so many doors for me, there were loads of opportunities thrown at me.

What attracted you to postgraduate study at Kent?

I felt so supported during my undergraduate degree. The lecturers and other staff within the School of Sociology, SPSSR were so approachable, engaging and accommodating. If I ever needed any help with anything, their doors were always open. I felt so comfortable in that environment and couldn't imagine studying anywhere else.

Why did you choose the MA in Criminology?

My passion for criminology grew out of my undergraduate degree, I was lucky enough to be able to carry out a criminology-based dissertation, which ignited my passion to continue studying criminology. Also, Kent’s Criminology MA gave me the opportunity to spend a term in New York, so I spent six weeks researching with Criminal Defenders there. This was an extremely eye-opening, fulfilling and rewarding experience, and played a big part in my decision to apply to do a PhD so that I could continue to pursue my interests. 

How different to UG is PGT?

The teaching styles are similar – lectures and seminars – but within PGT there are smaller classes and more interactive workshops, and you gain more hands-on experience. You attend more conferences and social events so your relationship with your lecturers develops which is really beneficial.

What do you think you gained from your PG experience at Kent?

Studying at PG level opened so many doors for me, there were loads of opportunities thrown at me.  At Kent it’s not just about studying, I went to academic conferences all across Europe, which helped me build networks. I also attended writing workshops and skills training sessions where I gained skills and attributes relevant to different jobs and industries.

What would you say to anyone considering PGT study?

If you enjoyed your subject matter at undergraduate level, then PGT study is for you. It is such a privilege to be able to engage and engross yourself in your chosen discipline, while the smaller class sizes, more interactive study and closer engagement with leading figures mean it is definitely worth doing. Kent is the perfect place to pursue PG study, as their PG network is so strong and supportive. 

What would you say to anyone considering PGR study?

PGR study is very different to both UG and PGT. You do not have face-to-face lectures and seminars, rather you are in the driving seat of your studies. You carry out research, whether that is secondary research based on the work of other scholars, or your own primary research. A research degree gives you the chance to pursue a particular interest or topic and the best part is that you can then become a leading figure in that area, which is really exciting. PGR study is a steep learning curve but it helps you to obtain skills beyond those you gain during taught degrees. You also develop particularly close bonds with your supervisors, which makes for a much more personal and individualised experience overall. 

So, what are you doing now?

Having had the amazing opportunities to carry out my UG, PGT and PhD degrees at Kent, I am now a Lecturer in Criminology at the University, which is such a privilege. I wouldn't be where I am today without the incredible support I received from the University of Kent. I couldn't think of anywhere better to work, having had such a great experience studying here as a student myself. 

What’s a typical work day for you?

I convene our first-year Criminology modules, which I absolutely love. On a typical day, I might teach three or four seminars and deliver a lecture to around 200 first-years as well as hold one-to-one meetings with students. One of the biggest privileges of my job, is that on days where I have less face-to-face teaching, I can concentrate and focus on my own research. I continue to carry out research in my field (legal aid), which is also really enjoyable and rewarding. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I thoroughly enjoy watching my students learn and grow. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a student do well. I try to make my lectures and seminars as engaging as possible to ensure that they have as good an experience at Kent as I had. Watching students start out in their first year and seeing them grow into independent, committed and engaged final-year students is so rewarding. 

What advice would you give someone planning their career?

Keep all doors open. You never know what is around the corner. I had no set plan when I came to the University, and look where I am today. The biggest bit of advice I can give is to work hard, stay committed and follow your passion. Taking up opportunities such as PG study may be that thread that leads you to your dream career.