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Jordon Houston

Jordon is an international student from New Zealand who recently completed his PhD at the Institute of Classical Studies.

Please could you introduce yourself and provide a short overview of your experiences at the Institute and the School of Advanced Study.

I came to the School of Advanced Study (Institute of Classical Studies) from New Zealand, and I have found it the perfect place to not only hone my skills as a historian, but also to help learn how to network with scholars of many different fields. I also found that the school provided me with access to many different training courses that which helped to expand my knowledge of not only my field, but also other aspects of my intended career in academia (teaching, publishing, presenting research, and public outreach). This, along with mentors for my career planning and general writing skills, made my 4 years at the school an absolute pleasure and helped me to grow as a researcher.

Why did you choose to embark on the PhD at the Institute?

The Institute of Classical Studies was recommended to me by my Master supervisor at the time that I was applying to a few different UK and Irish universities. After doing some research on the institute I discovered that it was at the heart of classical studies in the UK, which along with its world-renowned library, meant that it was an easy decision to accept my acceptance offer from the School of Advanced Study. My decision was confirmed once again when I emailed my supervisor at the Institute of Classical Studies and his enthusiasm to get started on my research.

What aspect of the course have you enjoyed most so far?

I have enjoyed the university’s focus on networking and connecting with other academics, both within the School of Advanced Studies and in the wider British academic community. This contact with different scholars opened up opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. I was also exposed to different avenues of research which greatly improved the arguments made in my final thesis.

What facilities and resources are on offer and have you made use of at the Institute and School of Advanced Study?

As a student at the School of Advanced Study you get access to a number of world-class libraries. While I spent much of my studies researching at the Institute of Classical Studies library which contains all the latest publications on anything to do with the ancient world. If they don’t have it, they will be able to get a copy for you soon enough. However, when I needed to look for sources that were outside of classical studies, I always checked the Senate House Library and the Warburg Institute for any sources that I needed. I rarely found a book that I couldn’t find as part of the libraries at the School of Advanced Studies.

What is your experience of the supervision at the Institute?

My experience of supervision at the Institute of Classical Studies was really positive! I was in contact with my supervisor every week of my PhD and found our meetings productive. He was always supportive and encouraged me to explore several different research ideas to improve my thesis argument. My supervisor also connected me with career development courses around Europe and to well-known scholars that were visiting the Institute. These connections were invaluable and gave me access to resources throughout the world.

How do you think your experience of studying the PhD course will help you in the future?

First, and foremost, my PhD has taught me how to be able to process large amounts of information and produce convincing conclusions. This skill will be one of the most important aspects of my job search post-doctorate as I can show employers that I can not only work independently, but I can produce high quality and convincing research. On top of this, my PhD has helped me to build my communication and networking skills. By presenting my research at seminars and conferences I have learnt how to clearly communicate my ideas to other non-specialists. This also extends to my networking skills, my PhD has taught me how to make sure that I leave a lasting impression on those that I am meeting in a professional/academic environment.  

What would you say to someone who is considering studying this course?

If you are looking for a university that can provide you with not only the resources that can be found at any university but also help to connect you with other academics both in your field and outside it, a PhD at the School of Advanced Study should be on your list. You will be in the heart of London and its academic scene. The staff there are supportive and go above and beyond to help you achieve your goals. Studying my PhD at the Institute of Classical Studies was honestly one of the best experiences of my life.