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Past Questions

  1. I am interested in applying for a PhD by distance learning in Byzantine Studies (I'm living and working in the UK) but, in order to decide if I can apply for a full time or part time PhD, I would like to have more information about the course structure. The full-time PhD for example, beside the time I need to spend on my research project, is there any weekly or daily course-training I must attend? Or are the three years entirely dedicated to the research? Thank you.

    Hello, thank you very much for your question and apologies in the delay getting back to you. My name is Emma from the Postgraduate Recruitment team, and I am replying on behalf of the mentor as they have not yet answered it.

    The PhD course is completely dedicated to your research - there should not be any regular training you need to undertake as part of your project. As a distance learning student you will have to visit the university once a year (FT) or once every other year (PT) for 2 weeks, but this is fully funded (info here:

    Best wishes, PG Recruitment

  2. Hello. I am currently studying Global History at Masters level. What advice would you have for a postgraduate student generally? Admittedly I have been out of the academic scene for the past 7 years so I am quite rusty.

    This is quite a broad question. What sort of advice are you looking for? Do you want to know how to make friends? How to maximise your chances of producing a first class dissertation? How to transform your lecturers into potential references?

    Best wishes,


  3. I have two concerns about the notion of 'reconquest' and Byzantine history. First, whether the byzantine sources speak in terms of retaking 'their' lands in the case of Justinian renovatio imperil or later on in the case of the fight against Muslims. Second, whether the term 'reconquest' has been used in the scholarship of the Byzantine empire? Thanks and best regards.

    Off the top of my head, I cannot think of any occasions where Byzantine sources speak of 'retaking their lands.' The only exception is the Pragmatic Sanction of 554, which officially restored Italy to the Empire. In particular, I will draw your attention to chapter 11 of the Sanction, which you can access using this link: Chapter 11 refers to Italy as "his provinces" ("his" being the Roman emperor). It also states that Italy was formerly subject to the laws of the Roman emperor. I will let you know if I turn up further evidence. As for your second question, the term 'reconquest' has been used on multiple occasions by scholars. See, for example, the following book and article excerpts: 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) Best wishes,


  4. What, for you, are the best things about the course?

    Several things. First, I can meet my supervisor virtually anytime I need to. I do not think I could have done this in a French university. On a related note, I have found my supervisor to be consistently truthful and understanding. Next, the course registration process is very flexible. You can actually sign up for a module at the last minute, or join a module half-way through the year. Furthermore, the library facilities are modern, extensive, and have convenient opening hours. For example, during the exam period the Library is open 24/7. Finally, the PhD workload, while challenging, is reasonable. I have enough time left over to be involved in two societies and lead a fairly active social life.

  5. Have you joined any clubs or societies, gone on any research trips or done any volunteering?

    I have the joined the hockey team and the chess club. In both cases the team members were welcoming and unpretentious. I considered joining the campus’ Labour Party in September, but decided it against it, as I have too much work to do at the moment.

    In addition, I have gone on a research trip to northern Greece in July-August 2014. I am already planning another trip for next year, building on the lessons that I learned this summer. For example, I could probably have secured funding for this year’s trip, except that I did not apply in time and my objectives were vague. Needless to say, I will be much better organized next time.

  6. What has been the highlight of your time at Birmingham?

    It would have to be the weekly seminars of the Hellenistic Department. I often come away from them with new ideas on how to improve my own presentations and form. In the same vein, the scholarly concepts and insights that the presenters mention tend to be welcome additions to my thesis. But more importantly, the seminars are an excellent source of mental energy and ambition. They consistently leave me wanting to push back the limits of my knowledge, to contribute novel ideas to the Byzantine archaeo-historical discipline, to work as hard as I can, and to surpass my peers.

  7. What was your motivation for undertaking postgraduate study?

    I had a passion for history, and I felt the best way to exercise this passion was to become a field archaeologist. But this job requires a number of theoretical skills which can only be learned in a postgraduate course. These skills include organizing conferences, writing essays of academic quality, and learning the languages used in my discipline (Modern Greek, Ancient Greek, and German). Moreover, I knew that as a university student I would have an easier time acquiring the practical skills necessary for an archaeologist. What I mean is, university students get priority access to excavation and survey internships. They also get the opportunity to form connections within their discipline, which is a vital asset in any career.

  8. Why did you choose the University of Birmingham?

    I applied for several reasons. First, I was impressed by the high rate of employment for postgraduates, including PhD students. Second, my prospective tutor at Birmingham seemed more enthusiastic about my thesis proposal than his counterparts at other universities. Third, while touring the campus I learned that Birmingham has an exceptionally wide range of societies and sports. Since getting involved in extra-curricular groups offers some major advantages (such as better mental and physical health, a chance to make new friends, and appreciably bolstering your CV) I was very glad to learn that Birmingham could deliver on this element.

  9. Hi Elie, I am a new PhD student in Birmingham. I was wondering whether there were teaching opportunities for doctoral students, and who I should contact for this? I can teach French, English to foreigners, or maybe I could work in my department? I just e-mailed my supervisors, but if you have any advice, it would be very helpful!

    Hi welcome to Birmingham! The University does provide taught French and English courses to foreigners, specifically in the Department of Modern Languages and the School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies. I'm not sure if there any vacancies at the moment- you will have to check on the University's website. Also, if you haven't done so yet, I strongly recommend you get in touch with the people at Career Network. They provide mock interviews and motivational letter advice to students at no charge. Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions.

  10. Hello Elie, thank you very much for your email and link introducing yourself. You have a very interesting background and I like the way you speak about your passion for History and Archaeology. I am a mature French student. My field is Theology and Religion and my passion for it led me to study the Amish groups. My research subject title is "An analysis of the dialogical exchange between the American politico-legal system and the Amish". My question is: do you have any links in the USA with people working for the Government, in the legal area to help to create a net of people to start my field research?

    Thank you for your message (I'm glad you like my profile). However, I'm afraid I won't be much use to you. Although I still have a number of friends in the US, none of them work in the legal area for the government. The best I can do is refer you to a friend who works for Vinson & Elkins’- an international law firm which provides services in most areas of law. He might be able to point you in the right direction. Best wishes,