Postgraduate Students

Madison - PhD in Classics

Making friends, falling in love with the city and the support and guidance of the department made Edinburgh the perfect fit for Classics PhD student, Madison.

Why did you chose the University of Edinburgh?

Madison Rolls

I came to the University of Edinburgh as a study abroad student during my undergrad in the States. In addition to making great friends and falling in love with the city itself, the university felt like a natural match for me. I was engaging in subjects that I felt were exciting and new and pleased to be surrounded by students who felt the same way. I decided to return to Edinburgh to pursue my Master’s degree, where I was extremely pleased with the attention given by small class sizes and ability to develop a flexible curriculum geared towards what I found interesting and worthwhile. This positive experience only confirmed the fact that I wanted to stay here to pursue my PhD, and I haven’t looked back since.

What attracked you to this programme in particular?

Pursuing a PhD in Classics was a natural next step after completing my Master’s degree here, and by the time the application process began, Edinburgh already felt like home. I love that the staff here are so willing to get to know their students and eager to see them succeed. When I announced my decision to pursue a PhD, I felt like I immediately had so many people behind me willing to help in ways as small as checking up on me during the application process, or as big as reviewing and editing my proposals. Having that help from the start convinced me that I would be well supported here and I can confirm that that has been the case ever since beginning the program. 

What have you enjoyed most about your time here?

I have found that apart from thesis-work the department is very keen to see its’ students building their experience in aspects outside of the classroom. There are constant offerings for participation in workshops, seminar series, and even several travel experiences geared toward expanding our understanding of both the ancient world and modern academia. Last year I participated in my first ever archaeological dig, which I was made aware of through my personal tutor. It’s not something I would have ever expected to do, as I’m not an archaeologist, but I feel that the first-hand experience I received from participating has opened my eyes to new ways of understanding the past.


What are your plans for the future?

As a first-year student, my short-term goals are to build a strong CV by becoming more involved in the department and focus on developing my thesis. I do not expect the former to be a challenge, as there are so many ways to become involved (program representatives, class representatives, workshop development, etc.). In the long term, I’d like to work as a professor within a Classics department, and these goals have been both recognized and supported by my supervisor. I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll call the UK or the US home, but I’m confident that my training here at Edinburgh will provide me with the skills to go wherever I choose. 


If you could offer any advice to new or current students what would it be?

Upon starting my PhD I found myself participating in every program and attending every seminar on offer with the main goal of making friends. What I didn’t realize, however, was that in doing this I was also expanding my knowledge and experience outside of the realm I have been used to. I would encourage any student simply to participate in as much as possible, especially in the beginning. The thesis work will always be there, but smaller things like the weekly Classics seminar series or trips to Hadrian’s Wall are easy ways to make connections and friends while simultaneously developing yourself and your CV as an academic.