I am currently working as a Research Associate for a Leverhulme funded project on contemporary U.K. political leadership. The project is part of the Aston Centre for Europe (ACE), an interdisciplinary research centre which is based in the School of Languages and Social Sciences at Aston University.
Brief outline of PhD research
My PhD research undertook a comparative analysis of contemporary British party leadership; the case studies included Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg in the Leaders’ Debates. British political culture, including, personalisation and celebrity and political institutions were considered as contexts which frame political action, and provide opportunities and constraints for leaders to use the self to political purpose. The significance of the media as regards leadership performance was analysed through a range of elite interviews with leading Westminster practitioners. The findings indicated that the mediation of political performance, personalisation, symbolic leadership politics, discourse, image, character, and the role of the political ‘persona’ have become central to understanding contemporary British political leadership.
Why did you choose to study for your PhD in the School of Languages and Social Sciences?
Having completed my undergraduate degree at Aston, I became interested in the topic of political leadership after completing a final year module entitled ‘Political Leaders: Case Studies and Comparative Perspectives’ by Professor John Gaffney. A range of exciting and lively lectures which enabled students to contribute to discussions and present work marked the beginnings of an academic career.
What did you find most useful about the PhD programme?
The Research Skills Training Programme was particularly useful as regards project management, interview skills, and managing and analysing data. The research support that I received from my supervisor, Professor John Gaffney, was invaluable. We are currently working together on the Leverhulme project on political leadership.
How has your PhD helped you in your current occupation?
As a PhD student, I acquired a range of skills that have been helpful in my current role, for example, project management and writing research. Having completed my PhD within the Department, it is very fulfilling working alongside colleagues and contributing to the research culture within the Department and the School.