Student profile
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Luke Draper

"So far my PhD has been very positive and eventful. My supervisors have been very supportive and helpful, and it has been satisfying watching my project take shape."



"Ever since I was very young I have been passionate about writing stories. That passion drew me to a BA in Media and English and an MA in creative writing. Then, I found a new interest that would let me travel: TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language).

I spent a long time in Japan and concentrated on teaching writing, applying classroom methods I remembered from my MA days.

In my writing classes, I began using creative writing’s signature pedagogy, the workshop.

Observing the impassioned dialogues, the awkward silences and the frustrated attempts at articulation made me think about the linguistic angle, and I managed to attach my two academic passions - creative writing and applied linguistics – to an exciting research project.

Both a strong interest in my chosen field and a desire to work as a lecturer, my chosen career path, has urged me to pursue this PhD. I was lucky enough to work at a university in Japan that gave generous summer holidays, so I came back to the UK to teach on the University of Surrey’s pre-sessional programmes for international students, to improve their academic English skills before going on to study. I wanted to maintain my affiliation with Surrey, especially as the University continues to increase its international academic reputation, so I had no hesitation submitting my research proposal.

I am still only in my first year, but so far it has been very positive and eventful. My supervisors have been very supportive and helpful and it has been satisfying watching my project take shape. As my project is interdisciplinary, both my supervisors come with different areas of expertise and a wide readership of literature that has been extremely helpful.

It is very important to find supervisors who can apply their knowledge and experiences to your individual case while encouraging autonomous study. In my experience, nothing has been prescribed, only recommended and agreed upon, and I have been lucky that my supervisors’ suggestions have been so valuable. Also, both supervisors are unafraid to criticise the clarity of my writing, which is important when you are writing for more than one audience. They also support me with advice on time management and writing structure.

I work mostly from home, so Surrey’s easy-to-use e-library has been indispensable. There are a great number of books available to read online, which are simple to access.

The access to software through Surrey Self-Service is also a huge plus, with access to some very helpful programs, such as Microsoft Office and transcribing and data analysis software.

So far, I have been encouraged to focus solely on working towards my confirmation thesis. Once my project takes shape and bears the fruit of research findings, I am really looking forward to working more closely with other academics from the field of linguistics and literature and presenting my findings. I am looking forward to sharing my work with people from other academic areas.

Above all, I am proudest of what I have learned so far while focusing on my literature review. While writing a research proposal, it is easy to think you are knowledgeable about a certain field, but it’s not until you delve further into the rabbit hole of literature, noticing historical connections that have not been linked before and other research findings that can be applied to your project in an original way, that you notice your project really developing, and it is very satisfying.

Whenever I work abroad, I miss the British countryside and Surrey has some of the best rural environments in England. Guildford is a very well-positioned town to be able to enjoy other places. The well-connected and busy train station can get you to some wonderful places, my favourites being Bath and Brighton. Although I do not live in Surrey, it is the hub of my various travels around England.

I plan on staying in academia, working as a lecturer either in the UK or abroad. I really enjoy teaching in higher education and have taken this PhD to ensure I am fully qualified to continue. I may also enrol onto another MA class, as I simply enjoy learning and applying myself. As Oscar Wilde is quoted to have said: “You can never be overdressed or over-educated."


Discover more about our language, communication and translation studies courses, including our PhD Linguistics.