Chen progresses to PhD

Name: Chen WangChen Wang
Course: MSc Finance and Investment
Graduated: 2010
Nationality: Chinese
Previous Employers: ISI Group, Manulife Teda AMC 
Current position: PhD Student in Finance, University of Edinburgh

Following my undergraduate studies at Renmin University in China I chose to study the MSc Finance and Investment at Durham University Business School. This was because of its world-class reputation, lovely environment, collegiate system and sound history.

The course was well organized and the structure provided an all round view of the finance and investment subject area. The course has CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) partnership status, which further ensured the quality.

My course was challenging and demanding but I did have time for extracurricular activities including playing for the Basketball Club in Ustinov College. There are many other experiences open to Durham students to enrich their time at university.

After completing my MSc I worked at Manulife Teda AMC from October 2010 to January 2011 as an intern assistant analyst in the Department of Global Investment. After my internship, I returned to the UK for my graduation ceremony in the magnificent Durham Cathedral. Upon my return to China I received job offers from the ISI Group, SPD Bank and Whitruth Capital Investment Ltd. I finally chose to accept the offer from ISI Group, in the China research team as an associate. The company is a Wall Street leading independent research type broker-dealer, with more than 10 offices located in major cities in the US, UK and China. The reason I finally accepted this offer is due to it being a leading position in finance research, excellent global package, and an opportunity to work with an energetic and knowledgeable team, from whom, as a fresh graduate, I could learn a lot.

The selection process was extensive, incorporating 8 interviews. There was one face to face interview in Beijing, one via Skype to Los Angeles, and six via Polycom to New York. Questions related to various aspects of my experience, including financial knowledge, personal background, research I have done, my academic scores, my personality and interests.

The post was varied and interesting and involved arranging corporate visits for fund managers, completing share strategy and banking industry analyses, collecting data from Bloomberg, Datastream, CEIC, Datainsight, Wind and Haver and working with the team to create the daily China research report.

While at ISI Group I was delighted to receive an offer to pursue PhD studies at the University of Edinburgh. My PhD supervisor, Dr Hou, was also my MSc dissertation supervisor at Durham. The knowledge and skills I developed through the course are very practical and helpful when dealing with the real cases during my work and research.

My one year at Durham passed very quickly. I majored in economics as an undergraduate and knew very little about finance, but after completing my MSc I had a very clear understanding about the area (judged by colleagues and supervisors in industry). So if you focus your time on study, you could develop knowledge at Durham to help you to gain an excellent position in the financial sector.


Musical Maria

Name: Maria Kouvarou 

Course: MA by Research in Music

 Graduated: 2010

 Nationality: Cypriot 

Current position: PhD student in the

Music Department at Durham University

 I arrived in Durham on September 28th, 2009, after I was offered a place as an MA by Research student in the Music Department of Durham University. I came here holding my research degree on Music Sciences (granted with a distinction from the Music Department of the Ionian University, Corfu, Greece), lots of luggage and great expectations for  the new phase that was about to begin.

 The excellent communication with and support from my supervisor and all the staff members, as well as the friendly and collaborative atmosphere within the postgraduate community of the Music Department afforded me with enthusiasm for working hard on my research project. In addition, the interaction with such a community of talented and knowledgeable people was another important source of motivation for me. Needless to say, I applied for a PhD in the same department, and felt much honored to be offered a place and also to be granted AHRC funding for the three years of the degree.

 Apart from the excellent atmosphere within the department, I would like to add that I am also really happy for being a member of such an interesting and diverse postgraduate community, which is characteristic of Durham University. Meeting people from different cultural and educational backgrounds is one of the things that add up to my ‘Durham’ experience.

 At this point, I have already been working on my PhD project for almost a year. I am working on the field of ‘Aesthetics of Popular Music’, looking at how ‘Afro-American’ musical idioms were accepted, developed and finally assimilated in the already existing popular music of five European countries. After I complete the degree I would like to find a job in a University, and follow the career of an academic. I am sure by now that my decision to stay in Durham University for a second degree will prove to be a valuable and essential background for the future.

Dr Linda – CEO of Develop Global Ltd

Name: Dr (Linda) Hui Yang

Nationality: Chinese

Degree: PhD in Intercultural Studies

Graduation year: 2011

Job: Chief Executive Officer

Employer: Develop Global Ltd (UK)

I have just completed my PhD study at the School of Education, Durham University this summer. I am now a proud Dr!

Becoming a Dr signifies the new beginning for the future. Before graduation in 2011, I set up my own company, Develop Global Ltd, which provides intercultural training and consultancy. My company is based in Durham and I am very much excited and confident about it because this allows me to make full use of my professional and personal strengths!

Looking back, one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life is to pursue a PhD degree at the School of Education, Durham University. I have learned and grown so much both as a researcher and as an international citizen.

I have received an enormous amount of support from my department both academically and financially. All administrative and academic staff in my department are so friendly and always ready to help. Throughout my PhD years, the experience of working on my research project with my supervisors, two excellent academics in intercultural studies and higher education, has been truly inspiring. With their support and encouragement, I had presented in both national and international conferences and acted as research assistant in two international research projects focused on international students studying in the UK

In addition to advance myself as a researcher, while ensuring the good quality of my research, I devoted myself to extra-curricular activities for my personal development. I need to point out that without the support from Ustinov College and my supervisors, many of my ideas and initiatives would not have come true. In my first year of PhD study, I founded Ustinov Intercultural Forum (UIF) which aims to promote cultural awareness, integration and personal development among all in Durham University and beyond. I acted as founding president for three years during which I initiated and led many projects such as Cultural Day (annual event at Ustinov College since 2006), Durham Intercultural Dialogue (coordinated with Durham County Council, 2008), Creative Cultural Diversity (three-month event in June 2009) and the Working Abroad Career Fair (coordinated with the Careers Employability and Enterprise Centre, Durham University). From 2006 to 2009, in addition to UIF, I acted as Postgraduate Research Students Representative (School of Education), Students’ Representative of the Chinese Association of North East England, International Students’ Representative (Ustinov College), Clubs & Societies Representative/Career Centre Liaison (Ustinov College) and Social Secretary of Ustinov Rugby Club.

In 2008, I applied successfully for the intern post to work in the section of Intercultural Dialogue, Culture Sector at UNESCO headquarters in Paris for three months. That was such an inspiring and valuable experience for me because I have experienced and learned so much from the unique on-going intercultural dialogue with people who are from different cultural backgrounds and work with me on the same platform where I could apply both of my professional strengths and other essential competencies.

Throughout my PhD years in Durham, I have got much recognition from Durham University and beyond. In 2008, I recieved the Outstanding Student Contribution award from the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health. In 2009, Ustinov College awarded me Outstanding Contribution to Intercultural Communication. In the same year, I was the North-East Regional Runner-up of Shine! The International Student Awards.  Also in 2009, Ustinov Intercultural Forum (UIF) was recognised as Best International Students Society.

Among all, the biggest recognition that I have achieved is the PhD degree from Durham University. This degree is not only the recognition of academic achievement, but also, the recognition of my personal growth, a transformation from a Chinese student to an international citizen.

Durham University provides me with an education. It’s an education for life.

Jing at Imperial

Name: Jing Pang

Degree: Physics MPhys

Graduated: 2009

Nationality: Malaysian

Current position: PhD at Imperial College London

 While I was investigating universities in UK, I created a shortlist of possibilities. In the end, I chose Durham University not only because of its high quality research and teaching in the Physics Department but also the opportunity to immerse myself in a collegiate environment full of student events. I joined several societies and enjoyed making friends from various backgrounds.

My main interest is the application of modern technology and bringing this into the market. Therefore, other than academic study and social life, it was also very important to consider other aspects of skills such as business awareness and entrepreneurship to help my career in the future. In Durham University, the Careers Employability and Enterprise Centre helped me to cover these aspects by providing various activities throughout the years to help every student who would like to increase their transferable skills and employability. One of the activities I attended was a three day entrepreneurship course in partnership with other companies such as IBM. This course greatly helped me to develop some business awareness and other soft skills which are not obvious in my physical science academic study. In my final year, I was applying for a research and development position and the Careers Centre helped me significantly in the application process by checking my CV and giving me interview advice. With their help, I was offered the job.

Durham University has taught me to always expand my horizons and improve myself. So after a year of working in industry, I am now doing full-time PhD research in the Materials Department of Imperial College London with a full scholarship. I would like to say that studying in Durham University is a unique experience and fun while giving students ample opportunity to enhance their employability.

Laura loves Durham


­Name: Laura da Costa
Degree: BA Education Studies-English Studies;
MA Research Methods (Education)
Graduated: June 2009, January 2011
Nationality: Belgian
Current Status: PhD Candidate in Educational Research (Durham)

Before I came to Durham University, I had never been to England before. I keep trying to leave, but every year I find new reasons to stay at Durham. I initially came to Durham wanting to teach International Baccalaureate English to high school students in international schools. Over time, with my continued participation in different societies and activities, my interests and career ambitions have changed several times. Whether it be through careers fairs, company presentations, advice on interviews and assessment centres, or one-on-one chats with careers advisors, I have found support from the Careers Employability and Enterprise Centre at every step of the way. At a presentation they put on by a local market research consultancy, I made good contacts and obtained a part-time job. For over a year now, this continues to provide me with an understanding of how research at the commercial level is undertaken, and affords an interesting counterpoint to my own academic research. Importantly, I now know that after my PhD I have the options of staying on to do postdoctoral study (one more reason to stay!) or put my research skills to use in market or political and social trends research. I also know that if my career ambitions change once again, there are people at the Careers Centre who can help steer me in the right direction.

Reverend Leonard pursues PhD

Name:  Rev. Leonard Wee

Reverend Leonard Wee next to Durham Cathedral

Degree: MA Theology and Religion

Graduated: 2009

Nationality: Singapore

Employer: The Presbyterian Church in Singapore

Current course: PhD Theology at Durham University

When the Presbyterian Church in Singapore offered me a scholarship to further my theological education, I chose to come to Durham University because of its fine faculty, its long tradition of excellence in biblical research, and its beautiful surroundings. I was not disappointed! The one year in my MA course had been most profitable; the professors paid careful attention to my work, and their feedback enabled me to sharpen my thinking and theological skills.

 I am currently into the second year of my PhD programme at Durham. On top of the excellent supervision that I am receiving for my research, I enjoy the weekly postgraduate seminars in the Theology and Religion department. Here, we interact with our fellow PhD students, professors, and renowned scholars from all over the world who are invited to speak. It has been an exhilarating experience for me at Durham, and I am sure that goes for the other 160 or so PhD students at the Theology and Religion department as well!

 When I return to Singapore, I will be serving under the Synod of the Presbyterian Church and will be teaching full-time at the Trinity Theological College. I look forward to making my contribution to nurture a new generation of leaders and pastors for the church in Singapore-Malaysia, Asia and S.E. Asia!

Dr Liz chemistry whizz!

Name: Elizabeth New

Nationality: Australian

Degree: PhD in Chemistry     

Job: Postdoctoral Fellow

Employer: University of California, Berkeley

I really enjoyed the time I spent in Durham completing my PhD. It was a wonderful experience to work with such talented chemists amongst the academics and students in the department. I also benefited from the opportunity to attend and present my work at a number of British and international conferences. Aside from the chemistry, I loved being part of the community of international and local postgraduate students, and having the opportunity to explore all the beautiful areas around Durham.

After I finished my PhD in Durham, I was awarded a fellowship from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, which has been supporting research and education since 1891! With this support, I was able to come to UC Berkeley as a postdoctoral researcher. I am currently developing tools to better understand the role copper plays in our bodies, and how mishandling of copper can lead to different diseases.

In January next year I’ll be going back to Australia, to take up a lectureship at the University of Sydney. I’m planning to continue to work at the interface of chemistry and biology, to improve the current methods for studying oxidative stress in cells. Just as everywhere else, academic positions in Australia are hard to come by at the moment, and my job application was made much stronger by the research experience I gained during my PhD at Durham.