Sophie's PhD in International Relations exposed her to a vibrant research community and gave her a drive to make a difference to ocean governance
Before joining the doctoral programme, I worked for the European Union in various capacities in conflict areas, notably as a civilian affairs advisor and consultant in the Balkans and humanitarian aid expert in Africa.
My experience as an MA student here helped me reconnect with my inner scholar in mid-life after a career working out in the world. It also convinced me to continue on an academic path by starting a PhD in maritime security with a focus on Africa. I have a fantastic supervisory team, love the sea and all things maritime so I am very happy living and studying in the great maritime city of Portsmouth!
I have a great supervisory team, love the sea and all things maritime so I am very happy living and studying in the great maritime city of Portsmouth!
As a privately funded mature student my funding comes from a variety of sources; savings, PTHP lecturing, part-time work as the Clipper Race specialist with the sailing brand Musto and as a university postgraduate ambassador.
A typical day in the life of Sophie is busy! I need to balance work commitment, student life with research and training activities and physical preparation for the offshore race I am taking part in; the Clipper Race around the World, (North Pacific leg from China to the USA). I try to fit in exercise very early in the morning with the rest of the day dedicated to PhD activities on and off campus, and work commitments.
Our University has helped me in ways that have profoundly changed my life. Firstly, thanks to the support of the Well Being Centre, I have finally been able to deal with PTSD brought about by a decade of work in conflict areas and a late diagnosis of Aspergers. The allocation by ASDAC of counselling sessions and mentoring with Autism Hampshire has helped with my wellbeing keeping me on track with my PhD.
Secondly, my experience of postgraduate studies here has been fulfilling. I meet great minds and am part of a vibrant research community. Being the student representative for the Centre for Blue Governance has motivated me to push myself harder to make a difference to ocean governance with my research. Honestly, I feel blessed.
Big dreams start with small steps and by opening doors. Don’t fear change. At Portsmouth I have learnt to never be shy to seek help. Though PhD work is a lonely endeavour, feeling part of Team Portsmouth has been key to staying on course. You are never alone here. Postgraduate studies will change your life and it will change you. It is not plain sailing but without a challenge, there is no growth.
Politics and international relations postgraduate research degrees
Explore our pre-approved Politics and International Relations PhD projects, learn more about our MPhil and other research degrees, and find out how to join the thriving research community at the University of Portsmouth.
Discover why you should do your PhD at the University of Portsmouth – and explore the subject areas you can study in, how to fund your PhD, and how to apply.