Meet the lecturer: Professor Sarah Smith

Meet Professor Sarah Smith, lecturer in the School of Economics, Finance and Management.

Tell us about your journey into academia…

I am an accidental economist – and academic. My undergraduate degree was Philosophy, Politics and Economics and I specialised in politics. My first job was in political consultancy but I soon realised that economics would provide the tools that would help me to understand the policies that I was interested in.

After doing a master’s at the LSE, I worked at the Institute for Fiscal Studies which was a great combination of academic research and policy analysis. I spent time working in government but saw opportunities in academia for a more flexible career and the luxury of choosing the questions to work on. My first academic job was at the LSE on their master’s in Public Administration, where I really enjoyed teaching economic evaluation methods. Bristol economics department is a perfect fit for me because it has a focus on applied research and research with impact on policy and practice – in health, education and welfare.   


What’s your favourite thing about teaching on postgraduate taught programmes at Bristol?

I have taught an economic evaluation course to MSc students at Bristol – it’s great because it’s really applied and gives students powerful tools that they can use later in their careers. As part of the assessment, students designed and presented their own policy evaluation. As well as giving students an opportunity to learn by doing, I found it fascinating to learn about different policies from across the world. Our PGT programme is very diverse, bringing together students from many countries.    


What’s your number one top tip for prospective postgraduate students? 

Think about why you’re doing a postgraduate taught degree. Our specialist PGT economics programmes build on an undergraduate degree but they’re also much more tailored to different economics careers – in industry, banking/finance and public policy. You can use the year to build up specialist knowledge and skills – try to tailor it to what you want to do next. 


Meet the lecturer: Dave Jarman

Meet Dave Jarman, Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Tell us about your journey into academia…

Like most of the team at the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, I’ve followed a slightly unconventional path into academia! We actually pride ourselves on the diversity of experience we’ve collectively accumulated! 

I did actually do my master’s degree at Bristol, in the Arts Faculty; an MA in Myth from the Classics department. My passion was for Indo-European Heroic mythology including classical, Celtic, and Viking tales and you’d be surprised how useful that has been along my journey into entrepreneurship and innovation education! 

I’d always done a lot more than just my degree though; I’d been involved in lots of clubs and societies and Students’ Union representation, and I took my passion for education in a slightly different direction. I initially became a skills trainer and development coach in the Students’ Union and later the Careers Service here at Bristol. I was supporting students to run better activities and develop their employability, then I switched into supporting freelancers and start-up entrepreneurs working for the University’s Research and Enterprise Division supporting new social and commercial ventures ranging from healthcare and high-tech ideas to charities and creative freelancers.  

eventually became the Head of Enterprise Education here at Bristol, chaired the UK’s national network of entrepreneurship educators, and then became the Head of both Careers and Enterprise at a creative arts university just down the road. I got tempted back to Bristol with a switch to the academic side of the house as a Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at what was then a brand new centre in 2016. 


What’s your favourite thing about teaching on postgraduate taught programmes at Bristol?

What tempted me back and what I still love most about teaching is helping students develop their ideas into reality. Our MSc Innovation and Entrepreneurship is all about helping students build the skills and develop their half-ideas into workable propositions to change the world. As you can tell from my own journey, my interest is in people and ideas, and the stories people tell about who is allowed to do what and why. There is a lot of mythology around entrepreneurship which I love to debunk and make it accessible to everyone. 

At the centre we teach in a really practical, professionally relevant manner. We provide a toolkit and a mindset to discover, create, develop, evaluate, and prototype ideas that create value. That’s still hugely motivating. 


What’s your number one top tip for prospective postgraduate students? 

My top tip for prospective PG students is to show us the trajectory that you’re on. What I mean by this is if we’re going to invest in you and support you we want to see in your application some evidence of your passion and skill so far, and also your ambitions for the future. We want to invest in students who’ve got the motivation to make the most of the course, so show us your initiative, show us your burning interest, show us your hopes for the future and that’ll excite us about wanting to work with you to achieve that. 


Meet the lecturer: Dr Mimi Thebo

Meet Dr Mimi Thebo, lecturer in MA Creative Writing.


Tell us about your journey into academia…

 I didn’t really want to be an academic – I wanted to be writer! But when I did my own master’s in Creative Writing I found the whole process extremely inspiring. I didn’t just love what happened to my own writing, I loved the whole process. Watching people go from being okay or good-ish writers to being truly wonderful writers was terribly exciting. I just couldn’t walk away from it. 

That was nearly 20 years ago… 

My writing and my teaching grew together. My first book was my MA manuscript. My PhD was done between books three and four but before books six and seven. Book five happened in the middle of it – Drawing Together with Walker Books. It’s for early readers, has sold over 250,000 copies and has been translated into five languages. I think more of my PhD went into that little book with Jess Meserve’s illustrations, than into the actual dissertation novel! Writing, researching and teaching have been the perfect combination for me.  I can’t imagine life without all three of them. 


What’s your favourite thing about teaching on postgraduate taught programmes at Bristol?

Bristol is a vibrant, multi-cultural city. As a harbour town, it has always gone out into the world and has always welcomed the world into itself. Many writers live in or around Bristol, and it’s always had a lively literary culture – largely because of its cultural richness as a harbour. 

The University is a well-established Russell Group establishment with superb resources and solid administration practices. That’s why the new master’s in Creative Writing can take chances. We can support the extra administration of admitting both full-time and part-time students. Our admissions department could work out ways for students who hadn’t done a first degree to be credited for their prior knowledge. Estates and timetabling could ensure that we could teach in twilight hours, making parking cheaper and letting people work child care and paid work around their studies. 

To make it even better, this flexible degree is taught in one of the top ten English departments in the UK, and it is exactly the experience and the solid, traditional university infrastructure of Bristol English that allows innovation and widens participation.


What’s your number one top tip for prospective postgraduate students for the MA in Creative Writing? 

Read contemporary literature and write. It’s just that simple. If you’ve been doing both for a few years, you might well be ready for a master’s in Creative Writing. It doesn’t matter whether you’re old or young, what your background’s like or whether you’ve had previous study in the subject. If your writing is everything to you, it will also be everything to us. 


Have you put your postgraduate plans on pause?

In this time of uncertainty, it’s only natural to feel as though you need to put your future plans on pause. The postgraduate team, here at the University of Bristol, want you to know that we are still on hand to help you progress to postgraduate study in 2020.

Our work hasn’t been put on hold, and your future needn’t be put on hold either.

We’re just about getting the hang of working from home: we’ve mastered the video meetings and are settling in to the new ways of working. While children and pets might be making our working days slightly louder, we’re still available to answer any questions you have and can assure you that if you want to begin your postgraduate journey with us, we’ll be here to help you do just that.

Firstly, we’d like to invite you to some new live chat events that we’re really excited about! You can access the live chats from wherever you are in the world, and they’re a great way to ask us your questions about postgraduate study at Bristol.

The live chats are being hosted by the Arts and Social Sciences and Law faculties, and each day will see a different school within the faculty taking part. Chat to our experts, academics and current students to find out all you need to know about our master’s programmes.

Arts week live chats, 27 to 30 April

Social Sciences and Law week live chats, 4 to 7 May

To get the most out of these events, it might be useful to come prepared with a couple of questions. You’ll also be able to see the answers that the team make live throughout the chat, so you could even learn about something you hadn’t thought of yourself!

Later on in the year, we’ll also be hosting another set of virtual events with more of our faculties. Register your interest to be notified when further details are available.

If you want to crack on with your application now, go ahead! Our application process is hosted online, and there is guidance and advice on our website. If you need to ask us anything, our enquiries team can still be contacted on, or on +44 (0) 117 394 1649.

During these strange and unsettling times, the postgraduate team are working just as closely together as we always have done, despite being scattered around the city and surrounding area. Get in touch with us whenever you need to, keep working towards your goals, and stay safe.

With best wishes,

The Postgraduate Team