Chiara, originally from Tuscany, Italy and is now pursuing a PhD with the Institute of English Studies

Chiara Betti

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

Hello, I am Chiara, and I am originally from Tuscany, Italy. I fulfilled my BA in Performing Arts and Communication at the University of Pisa in 2013, and my MA in History of Art at Bologna in 2017. After an internship in the Ashmolean Museum Print Room (2016), I worked for over two years as a Cataloguing Assistant at the Ashmolean, focussing on the Douce collection of prints. I then worked for a year at Art UK as a Database and Collections Liaison Officer. 

During my MA, I specialised in 16th-century Italian works on paper, and following my experience as a cataloguer, I also acquired a keen interest in Early Modern Northern European and British prints. 

I started my MPhil in October 2020 and I have so far attended many training courses and seminars offered by the School. I am also taking French classes offered by the School of Advanced Study (SAS) and help with the Italian classes. 

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

I am a Collaborative Doctoral student and when I saw the advert for my research project I was thrilled – the perfect subject and the perfect institute. The Institute of English Studies (and SAS in general) have an extremely lively research community, foster multidisciplinary collaboration and a sense of community among its students. I couldn’t wish for a better university. 

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

In these strange times, new students like me haven’t had much opportunity to network and meet other postgrad, but the research seminars offered by the School and the Research Training courses have been amazing. The former allow students to showcase their research and get advice from other members of the School, while the latter deal with a wide range of skills that may help the students in their “research journey”. 

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

As mentioned, I am taking part in the online French classes for SAS postgrad students. I regularly use the e-resources offered by Senate House Library and the provided access to online databases. 

What is your experience of the supervision at the Institute? 

My two supervisors, one from the Institute and one from the partner institution for my CDP, have been incredibly supportive since the very beginning. We meet at least once a month and discuss my progress with the research and any difficulties I might have encountered. 

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

The PhD is my first step towards a career in Academia. A PhD will allow me to teach and continue doing research as a recognised scholar. The course will also help me building the necessary skills to manage a long-term research project. 

What was your funding experience? 

I believe I am very lucky to be a member of the Collaborative Doctoral Partnership cohort. We have a good support network and sense of community. We have a number of training opportunity available and funds to support our research needs. 

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

The School of Advanced study is a diverse and lively environment, and you will love being part of that. SAS is a great place for networking and learning about other students’ research, as well as sharing your own experience.