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Marianne Ailes (PhD French 1989)


After completing the MA in Medieval Studies I went on to a PhD in the French department. I started working part-time as a college lecturer in Wadham College, Oxford, two years into my PhD. I also got married and had two children (slowing down the PhD - as you could then). I decided I wanted to continue to work part-time while my children were growing up. I had the best of both worlds, able to continue as an academic while raising my family. In 2007 I moved to a full-time post at the University of Bristol where I am now a Senior Lecturer.

Why did you choose to do a PhD at the University of Reading?

I had first taken the MA in Medieval Studies at Reading and wanted to continue to study under the supervision of Wolfgang van Emden who was the best person to work with in my field.

What was the best bit about living and studying in Reading?

I met my husband on the MA, so that was life-changing! Academically the inter-disciplinarity of the Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies was a great training ground.

What top tips would you give to students who are beginning their PhD?

You should love your subject - you have to live with it for at least 3 years and may never get away from it.
Find out how your supervisor(s) want to work with you and what you want from them early on.

What are you up to now? How did you get there?

I am now Senior Lecturer in French at the University of Bristol. Having chosen to work part-time while I had children I am now enjoying developing my career in middle age.

What would be your top tips for students interested in working in this sector?

You need to really want to do it as today it can take several years to get a permanent post.

How has the University of Reading and the Careers Centre helped in your chosen career path?

The Centre for Medieval Studies gave me an inter-disciplinary network which has been very supportive. I have been involved in two major research projects with people who taught me on the MA.

What does the University mean to you and what is your favourite memory?

I remember having PhD supervisions in Wolfgang's room with my young son sitting under his desk eating raisins.

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