SOAS University of London

Lois Barnett , 1st Year

I've been here for five years now, taking my BA and MA here before embarking on my PhD studies, so I've obviously had a good experience! I'd best describe this time as "enriching", opening my eyes to the best scholarship from around the world.

MPhil/PhD Film Studies
I've been here for five years now, taking my BA and MA here before embarking on my PhD studies, so I've obviously had a good experience! I'd best describe this time as "enriching", opening my eyes to the best scholarship from around the world.

I was recommended SOAS by my secondary school Japanese teacher, who told me that it was an excellent institution for reading Japanese Studies with a brilliant international reputation.

I was very impressed with SOAS' library and access to resources, as well as the varied course options available for studying Japanese culture and the option to take an additional language as a floater unit. I was also impressed with SOAS' integration of students with existing Japanese language proficiency as I already had an A-level in the subject and wished to improve my existing skills - courses at other universities were aimed more at ab-initio learners.

It may sound clichéd, but the Centre for Film Studies really does feel like a nurturing family - even during the final year of my BA when I was unsure of what path to take next, the Centre's faculty and PhD students were incredibly supportive and welcoming. We all work together very effectively and I really enjoy sharing my passion for the study of film with everyone here. There is no "stuffiness" or rigid hierarchies, we all enjoy sharing our academic experiences together.

SOAS has allowed me to achieve more than I ever believed I was capable of - if someone had told me five years ago that I would be studying towards a PhD now, I would be more than surprised! It has set me on a path of investigative thought which I hope to continue pursuing for the rest of my life.

Full Student profile interview questions

How did you find out about SOAS?

I was recommended SOAS by my secondary school Japanese teacher, who told me that it was an excellent institution for reading Japanese Studies with a brilliant international reputation.

What made you choose to study your chosen degree programme at SOAS?

I was very impressed with SOAS' library and access to resources, as well as the varied course options available for studying Japanese culture and the option to take an additional language as a floater unit. I was also impressed with SOAS' integration of students with existing Japanese language proficiency as I already had an A-level in the subject and wished to improve my existing skills - courses at other universities (such as Oxford University) were aimed more at ab-initio learners.

How would you describe your time at SOAS?

I've been here for five years now, taking my BA and MA here before embarking on my PhD studies, so I've obviously had a good experience! I'd best describe this time as "enriching", opening my eyes to the best scholarship from around the world.

How would characterise SOAS and the typical SOAS student?

SOAS is characterised by its truly global worldview; the typical SOAS student is adept at negotiating issues from a varied and nuanced perspective.

How would you describe the course/programme of study/department?

It may sound clichéd, but the Centre for Film Studies really does feel like a nurturing family - even during the final year of my BA when I was unsure of what path to take next, the Centre's faculty and PhD students were incredibly supportive and welcoming. We all work together very effectively and I really enjoy sharing my passion for the study of film with everyone here. There is no "stuffiness" or rigid hierarchies, we all enjoy sharing our academic experiences together.

What is it like to live and study in London?

I don't live here because I can't afford it - this is the only real flaw with the university's location. Studying in London is excellent due to the university's geographical and institutional links with other libraries, museums and universities - I love being able to easily access and handle materials from across London with relative ease.

Who (or what) is your biggest inspiration or motivation at SOAS and why?

The faculty here are incredible, inspirational people, and I have been inspired by so many academics here over the past five years. I am indebted to Dr Isolde Standish, Dr Angus Lockyer and my fellow PhD students of the Centre for Film for supporting me and encouraging me to apply for the Sasakawa Studentship which has enabled me to continue my study here. I would also like to thank Jones Sensei and Kawabata Sensei of the Japanese language department for  inspiring me to continue my study of this wonderful language. My grateful thanks also go to Dr Stephen Dodd and Dr Alan Cummings for their constant vigilance and guidance since my very first days here at SOAS.

What is your fondest memory of your time at SOAS? Do you have a story or anecdote from your SOAS experience?

I remember performing stand-up comedy at the students union here a few years ago, to a room full of both friends and total strangers. I was very nervous as I'd never done it before, but the experience was so positive I felt that we had all become friends after those twenty nerve-wracking minutes!

What do you think makes SOAS unique?

SOAS is unique as the only institution - as far as I know of, worldwide - which specifically focuses on Asia and Africa. This makes it an important antidote to the more Eurocentric perspectives which can be seen elsewhere.

What impact has SOAS had on your life and outlook?

SOAS has allowed me to achieve more than I ever believed I was capable of - if someone had told me five years ago that I would be studying towards a PhD now, I would be more than surprised! It has set me on a path of investigative thought which I hope to continue pursuing for the rest of my life.

What next? What are your plans for the future?

I would like to continue on an academic career path researching Japanese fashion and its relationship with film. And possibly more stand-up comedy.

What does it mean to you personally to be part of the SOAS community?

To me, being part of the SOAS community has shaped who I am today, and has allowed me to come into contact with so many different perspectives.

Do you have any tips or advice for students applying to SOAS?

Always have an open mind, read some of the key texts concerning your subject before you apply (not only to save you a bit of reading time when you get here, but so you definitely know that this is the subject you wish to devote at least three years of your life to - SOAS degrees are not in any way easy!) and always listen to your tutors.

Describe SOAS in 3 words

Dynamic, different and engaging.

Is there anything else you would like to say about your course, department or student experience?

My experience here has been excellent over the past five years, and I really look forward to the rest of my studies to come. My days at SOAS will set the pathway for the rest of my life.