Natalie Jones, School of English student

Natalie Jones

Tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi! My name is Natalie, and I am from Liverpool. I graduated from the University of Leeds in 2021 with a BA (hons) in English Language and Literature. I have always had a passion for learning and studying, which I have been lucky enough to continue over the past two years through my Masters by Research. Beyond academia, I enjoy travelling, exploring new places, and eating good food!

What are you studying and why did you decide to study at the University of Leeds? What made you want to do a Masters by Research rather than a traditional Masters?

In 2018, I moved to Leeds to begin studying at the University of Leeds. I fell in love with the city and thoroughly enjoyed student life. I wanted to continue my journey at Leeds and progressed onto postgraduate study in English Language. Studying for a Masters by Research rather than a traditional Masters has allowed me to tailor my research project around my interests. This has given me the freedom to develop and guide my research on something that I am really passionate about. Additionally, doing a Masters by Research has given me more flexibility, as I am able to manage my own workload, set deadlines, and prioritize tasks according to other commitments.

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?

My research is in Forensic Linguistics, looking specifically at courtroom discourse. This is a relatively under-researched area of study and I am passionate about pushing knowledge forward in this area. The analysis of lawyer talk within the courtroom (especially in recent trials) is so important, as there is so much to uncover about the influence of linguistic strategies, with the potential to influence the outcome of a trial.

What aspects of the course do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy the freedom and creativity that I have within my research project to explore my interests. I have also enjoyed being part of the research community and engaging with lots of different students and learning about their research interests.

Have you worked closely with a particular tutor or member of the University’s academic staff? Tell us about that experience. 

I have enjoyed working closely with my supervisor and benefitting from her vast expertise. We have one-on-one supervisions that help to keep my research on track and moving in the right direction. Our discussions are always exciting and insightful, and this continuously ignites my passion for my subject area. My supervisor always signposts exciting opportunities, which has led to sharing my research at international conferences, engaging and networking with other like-minded academics, and helping at research events.

Tell us about some of the exciting projects you have completed.

During my MRes, I have worked on exciting projects that have further enhanced my research. I attended and gave papers at two international conferences at the University of Porto and the University of Oviedo. The papers that I worked on focused on aspects of my research that I wanted to develop and the feedback from an international and specialist audience was invaluable. This has also helped with my confidence, communication, and presentational skills. To support these projects, I received funding from the Plus Programme.

What would you say about the learning facilities in your School and at the University in general?

The libraries at the University of Leeds offer everything you could possibly need throughout your degree. Beyond the extensive materials available, there are lots of study spaces that suit different needs. From silent areas to group working zones, there is always a space for you to work comfortably on campus. Whilst studying, I have spent time working away from campus at home in Liverpool. The online library and research tools have also made studying away from campus possible. The university has something to offer for everyone.

What activities outside of your studies are you involved in?

Outside of my studies I have recently taken-up work as an events ambassador. This involves engaging with prospective students and using my experience at university to offer advice. I entered university through the Access to Leeds scheme and have been supported by the Plus Programme throughout my journey. I never thought that postgraduate study would be possible for me and I am passionate about talking about this and helping students in similar situations to navigate this!

What do you plan to do when you’ve finished your course, and how do you think the skills and knowledge you’ve developed so far at Leeds will help with these plans?

I am now planning to undertake PhD study and I believe that the skills that I have gained and developed whilst studying for my Masters by Research experience will aid this transition. I can confidently undertake research and work independently on this, which is essential for PhD study.

What experiences at Leeds do you think will help you in your future career?

The events that I have attended at the University of Leeds and beyond has enabled me to connect and network with people from all over the word and at different stages of their degrees and careers. This has enhanced my interpersonal and communication skills and will inevitably help with my future career aspirations.

What would you say to students thinking of undertaking a Masters by Research?

Studying for a Masters by Research is so exciting and can open up so many doors for you. It enables you to undertake meaningful research that you are passionate about and the ability to share this with other likeminded people. You are engaged with people who are interested in what you have to say and offer, which is such a rewarding experience. A Masters by Research is a great steppingstone if you have aspirations of progressing onto PhD study. Beyond this, it is an opportunity to pursue what you are passionate about and to turn your interests into stimulating research.

What does Leeds as a city have to offer students?

Outside of the university, Leeds has a lot to offer students. For me, Leeds has always felt like a home away from home. There is always so much going on in the city and lots to do. I really enjoy wandering round the city center, visiting new restaurants and coffee shops, and thrift shopping. Places like Kirkstall market and the Corn Exchange are always worth a visit. While the hustle and bustle of city life is fun, there are also lots of green spaces to unwind and relax such as Kirkstall Abbey. The city has great transport links, making places like Ilkley, Knaresborough, and York very easy to visit!