Benjamin Brown

Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be a Postgraduate Researcher at Leeds.

My PhD is on contemporary cinema with a dash of urban studies. Between finishing my undergraduate degree and masters degree at York and starting at Leeds I worked as a project manager at a marketing consultancy which certainly improved my organisation and communication skills, but I am very happy to be back studying.

My supervisor at York recommended the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies at Leeds as a match for my interests as there is a strong interest on contemporary political cinema. Being a “World Cinema” department, the staff research a broad range of media and deploy a large variety of methodologies. I was very interested in the research topics of my supervisors and I wanted to gain from their expertise and experience.

What aspects of your research you enjoy the most?  

I have lived in cities for a large part of my life, so I find it fascinating understanding how local governments/corporations/artists attempt to change how we think about urban spaces, whether it’s through economic policy and advocacy or art. A city is comprised of ideas and media as much as it is by buildings. 

I also enjoy discussing ideas and research with other PhD students. It’s a great way to get to know people and talk through the excitements and challenges of what is effectively a new job. Besides that, I enjoy the simple pleasure of being able to research topics I find fascinating.

A pleasant surprise has been how easy it has been to meet other researchers. One thing I was concerned about before starting my PhD was transferring from a sociable office to a quiet library, but thankfully there are many communal areas and chatty people at all stages of their research who are happy to natter about everything from the latest academic journals to the England cricket captain’s continued poor performance! 

What would you say about the learning facilities at the University, and also the extra curricular opportunities around campus?

The libraries can be very busy around exam periods. You can book a study room for up to 4 hours a day if you need a change of environment. There are various research clusters with computers around campus for School/Faculty PGRs which I would recommend over the library as they are a more of sociable space. 

There is a straightforward procedure for requesting the libraries to purchase books with a quick turn-around so you don’t need to be out of pocket for your research.

There are a huge number of sporting/social activities on regularly. From sewing to scuba diving there are clubs and teams you can get involved with. I have tried yoga and football and I hope to join a cricket team in the spring. 

What would you say to anyone considering postgraduate research at Leeds?

Leeds has a lot of reasonably priced accommodation but has fantastic nightlife and amenities, the majority of which are walking distance from campus. The city is the main rail hub in the North and is connected to several major motorways so it is very easy to travel whether you’re visiting friends and family or presenting at conferences. 

Leeds is a great place to live and work. If you are passionate about your studies and can identify a suitable supervisor you should definitely apply. 

What do you plan to do when you’ve finished your research?

I am interested in either continuing to Postdoc studies or moving into teaching. My supervisors are supporting me with paper submissions to conferences so I can get feedback on my work and meet other academics in the field. It’s a daunting and exciting prospect in equal measure. I have the opportunity to teach undergraduate students next year and I have begun attending training sessions to prepare.