Student ‘written off’ after failing his A-Levels starts PhD at University of Leicester

Posted by ap507 at Nov 03, 2015 10:35 AM |
After failing his A-levels Richard Evans, who was diagnosed with dyslexia during his degree, achieved highest ever dissertation mark recorded in his department

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 3 November 2015

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Written off at 18 after failing his A-levels, Richard Evans has just embarked on a PhD course at the University of Leicester.

The 26-year-old puts his turn around in fortunes down to the support he has received at the University of Leicester while he was studying for a BA in Ancient History & Archaeology.

Richard said: “Throughout my time at the University of Leicester I have been treated like a colleague and never looked down on by the staff – from my experience a lot of other universities are not like that.”

Having failed his A-levels, Richard was told to forget about going to university. He decided to take an Access course at his local college in Peterborough and achieved a high distinction – paving the way to apply for a place at university.

He said: “I don’t perform well in exams but the Access course suited me as it primarily involved research and writing up.”

“Leicester was not my immediate choice – I was looking at Classics but was rejected outright by the universities I applied to.

He then applied to Leicester through the ‘Extra’ application process and secured a place on the BA Ancient History & Archaeology course.

He said: “Being rejected by other universities was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Richard graduated with spectacular results in BA Ancient History & Archaeology which included achieving a mark for his final dissertation that was equal to the highest ever awarded in the department. This achievement was despite having been diagnosed with dyslexia in his second year at Leicester.

Following his success at Leicester, he then went on to take his Masters in Ancient History at Edinburgh. Richard has just secured, against fierce competition, full funding from the M3C (Midlands Three Cities) consortium, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, for a PhD which sees him return to Leicester.

Professor Graham Shipley, of the School of Archaeology & Ancient History, who supported Richard through his BA and is first supervisor for his PhD, said: “Richard showed immense promise from year one, when he was always on top of the work and reading round his subjects to a greater degree than almost any student I've taught.

“So his great success in year three and in winning funding for his PhD - while never predictable - was not a surprise to staff.

“Students could learn a lot from Richard's drive and reflective learning strategy, and from his never being shy about approaching any member of staff to test his ideas on them. Clearly he has overcome huge hurdles before and during university, and has shown great courage and determination.”

Richard’s PhD is on violence against non-combatants in civil war – terrorism and genocide in the ancient world. He will be looking at significant events happening alongside major wars recorded in Greek history and aims to ‘expose what historians have ignored’.

Richard said: “I love Leicester because it loves taking on people with challenging ideas, people who question.

“I am proud to be at Leicester and have benefited from not only the invaluable support I received from my Department but also the University’s AccessAbility Centre and the Welfare Office.

“I would say to all new students – if you put the time and effort into working with the academics then they will invest in you. My goal is to become a lecturer here – that’s how much I love this University.”

To find out more about applying for History and Archaeology courses at the University of Leicester go to:



For more information, please contact Dr Graham Shipley: or Richard Evans:

University of Leicester Press office: 0116 252 2415;

AHRC Press Office on 01793 416021 or email

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.

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