Matt Neale, BA MA PhD (2004-2013)

Matt NealeI did an MA in Urban History at CUH before starting a PhD, which I completed in 2012. Doing postgraduate study at CUH was a fantastic experience, and I really came to appreciate the benefit of being a valued part of a small but influential research community.

In addition to making a lot of friends, I think that it was really at CUH that I matured as a historian. Attending the Urban History seminars on Friday afternoons was something that I came to value very much, as it provided an opportunity to see historians presenting their work, and forced me to think very carefully about how historians go about developing their ideas. In 2008 I set up the New History Lab with a fellow CUH student, which provided a venue for postgraduates to meet, socialise and talk about doing research.

My work, both at MA and PhD level, also provided me with some skills that I am very happy to possess. I can write in a clear and concise way, analyse data through a range of qualitative and quantitative methods, plan and deliver projects, and organise my own time. During my postgraduate study I also became more confident at presenting my ideas, engaging in debate, and talking about my research.

After finishing my PhD I taught at the University of Leicester and worked as a Research Assistant for the Building and Enriching Shared Heritages community history project in the School of History. I was then employed at the Leicestershire Victoria County History Trust, and now work for the Three Choirs Festival¬—which, as all good historians of the eighteenth-century urban renaissance will know, is a choral music festival that has existed for almost 300 years.

I use a lot of the skills that I developed at CUH in my new job, which involves seeking fundraising income to support the festival’s charitable mission. My work requires me to write persuasive grant applications, analyse lots of different types of information, and independently conduct my own research. It also directly builds on the interest in heritage and public engagement in the arts that I developed as a result of the modules I undertook as an MA student and as a doctoral student in the Centre.

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