Tim Davies BA MA PhD (2003-2009)

Fresh from an undergraduate degree in Economic and Social History at the University of Leicester, I joined the Centre for Urban History (CUH) in September 2003 as a Masters student. I liked it so much that I stayed for six years! After a challenging but very enjoyable year studying topics such as the Eighteenth-Century Town and Planning and Regulation in the Nineteenth-century City for my MA, I settled upon my main area of interest and the subject of my PhD: the advertising of health and beauty products in the Nineteenth-century city. Having discovered how unhealthy and unmanageable the urban sphere had become by the 1800s, I wanted to examine how purveyors of health reacted to such environmental change. I also hoped to investigate what constituted beauty in the eyes of late-eighteenth and nineteenth-century society.

"Studying for a PhD is a wonderful experience... Yet it is also often a lonely experience, full of self-doubt and anxiety. Having support staff, academics and fellow students to bounce ideas off and to share the highs and lows of academic research with was incredibly reassuring and is something that CUH strive to provide."

I was very lucky to study at the CUH. The facilities were amazing: a personal computer, shared office, specialist library and more. The opportunities that arose were also excellent – I had the chance to teach, to co-organise workshops and seminars and to proof read drafts of academic publications – all fantastic additions for the CV. However, the most important aspect of CUH for me was the community and support it provided. Studying for a PhD is a wonderful experience: three years to immerse yourself in a subject of your choice. Yet it is also often a lonely experience, full of self-doubt and anxiety. Having support staff, academics and fellow students to bounce ideas off and to share the highs and lows of academic research with was incredibly reassuring and is something that CUH strive to provide.

After my PhD I decided to have a break from academic research, and I now work in an administrative role for University of Oxford, where, among other things, I help run events, assist in the financial running of a department and provide support to the editorial team. Despite my change in direction, many of the skills I use today are ones I gained at CUH: for example, co-organising workshops and postgraduate seminars prepared me perfectly for my current events duties whilst the training I received at Leicester in Microsoft Excel and Access has proved invaluable for my financial and database work. Ultimately my time at CUH taught me that the working environment of a university is one in which I feel comfortable and one in which I hope to thrive.

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