Student Profiles

BA English

Link to an article in The Financial Times by a HMC alumna, as testimonial of what it is like to return to study:

An Oxford undergraduate again — in my late 50s

This summer, in common with most BA candidates studying English literature at Oxford university, I graduated with a 2:1. No number can sum up the amazing experience of being a full-time undergraduate in my late fifties, scaling the generational divide like a college ball gatecrasher. An unusual situation intensified by a sense of déjà vu. Having read philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford in the seventies, I graduated feeling I had not made the grade. This sense of being an imposter among geniuses is common at Oxford, I’ve discovered. After a career in journalism and child-rearing, I was attempting to explain Sylvia Plath’s agonised poetry to my bored GCSE-candidate son when I realised — I should be studying literature……..

MSc Refugee and Forced Migration Studies

After completing my undergraduate degree at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, I lived in Syria for two years. When the conflict started I relocated to Jordan and then to Lebanon where I spent the next four years working with humanitarian projects that focused predominantly on emergency aid and education for Syrians, Iraqis, Sudanese and Somali refugees in the region.  Here at Oxford I am doing a MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. The MSc programme balances out my practical experience with theoretical approaches and valuable skills such as the refugee law and quantative methods classes. Although it was initially difficult to make the switch back to the classroom, I’ve come to appreciate the environment at Oxford that allows me to explore concepts without the pressure of having to implement activities immediately or satisfy donors. Life at Harris Manchester is without a doubt my favourite aspect of Oxford, I am awed at the friendships I have managed to cultivate in such a short time and the openness and support of the staff. There is a strong ethos of social justice in the College that aligns with my own upbringing, and our close-knit community means we engage meaningfully with one another especially on controversial, topical discussions, while still rustling up great parties in the JCR. Even though I am only half-way through my time here, it is already evident that this is an experience that will leave an indelible print on my life.


Mandy Photo

Mandy, 31
MSt English Language

After finishing my undergraduate degree in Toronto, I spent a while working in local politics before deciding to find a way to make a stimulating career out of what I love most: working with the English language. The 9-month MSt at Oxford was a perfect fit.  Now I’m on course for the masters and I love it. It’s quite challenging, but in all the right ways—pushing me to do my best work and thoroughly learn about my chosen field.  Oxford is an incredible and unique place, but also an overwhelming one. In the midst of that, I’m so grateful to be at HMC—its small, welcoming, and beautiful environment have been key to my success at Oxford.  A big part of that is the exceptional college library (with a pair of even more exceptional librarians who go out of their ways to make student lives easier), as well as the dynamic, open, and caring community of students who form a pivotal support network for one another.  I feel at home here, and it’s going to be hard to leave.  I’ve accepted a funded place in the University of Toronto’s English PhD program, where I plan to continue my research and build a life of reading, writing, thinking, and teaching what I love.


BA Oriental Studies

After finishing my A-Levels in Singapore, I completed two years of military service and spent a few months as a private tutor and orchestra musician before coming to HMC to study Egyptology and Assyriology. My course is tiny—there are just two undergraduates across the entire university in my year—which translates to unrivalled flexibility in course options, and real care and concern from tutors. I found little division between undergraduates, graduates, and staff, not least because of frequent Egyptology tea parties! This is quite unusual, and created a close-knit community right from the start. HMC has been a great place to live and work. College have supported my participation in study trips and projects outside of Oxford, and the library is a wonderful resource—I haven’t had to spend any money at all on books! Despite our small size, there are lots to see and do—I’ve attended masterclasses by internationally renowned musicians, browsed our very own art show, and handled beautiful Egyptian artefacts, all within college walls. Prospectuses often claim that everyone in Oxford is perfectly normal, but I must disagree! Most people have a quirk or two, but that’s what makes studying here so interesting. There are so many stories to listen to, especially in HMC, where everyone has spent time away from formal education. Coming to Oxford can be daunting, but the diversity and openness of HMC reassuringly shows there really isn’t an ‘Oxford type’ one has to fit into to find meaning and enjoyment here.

Anthony, 24
BA Human Sciences

Before I arrived at HMC I was a full-time International Swimmer for Great Britain and formerly for Swaziland. I completed my A-levels at 18 and I decided to take two years away form the studies in order to focus strictly on my training in the run up to the 2012 Olympic Trials. I subsequently read for a degree in Human Sciences which I completed in 2015. The course itself was more that I could have ever imagined, offering a challenging and yet alternative approach to the study of human life, behaviour and the context within which it is shaped. This involved a fantastically broad curriculum spanning from medical genetics to social policy. My experience of studying Human Sciences at Harris Manchester was very positive. I felt that my Director of Studies and other college staff were readily available to assist in any difficulties, whether academic or pastoral. Additionally, I was pleasantly surprised to find such a fantastically diverse and interesting student body with varied widely in terms age, lived experiences and academic backgrounds. I was also pleased to find an extensive profile of extracurricular activities. Key personal highlights include my involvement in the Oxford University Blues Swimming Team and establishing a HMC African-Carribbean Society. My experience at HMC has undoubtedly shaped my life and career aspirations. I have recently completed a graduate law-conversion degree, where I have developed a particular interest in areas of law closely allied to research I completed as part of my dissertation on the neurobiology on criminal behaviour. Much of this experience will certainly have a significant impact as a pursue a career in legal practice.