Student spotlight details
An architecture module during her undergraduate history course persuaded Judith to study the subject again years later.
‘Before enrolling on the Postgraduate Certificate in Architectural History, I was working as Assistant Head of Sixth Form in an Independent school in Ipswich, called St. Joseph’s College. This was founded in the late 1930s by the Lasallian Brothers, and we still share their ethos of faith and service to the community. The College is especially well known for rugby, but we have an interesting mix of students, many from overseas. I teach History and Politics, and feel passionate about both subjects; we live in interesting times.
‘I have always been interested in art and architecture, and having studied the broad sweep of Architectural History at A level, I chose ‘Architectural History: 1660-1720’ as my Special Subject when a History student at Oxford in the 1980s. I was hooked, and have wanted to pursue my interest ever since, but life got in the way. Now my children are grown and I felt ready for a new challenge. I was especially interested in the Oxford course because it is such a beautiful place to study and I could be assured of excellent tuition. Moreover, I was attracted to the more practical, Historic Conservation element, which I thought added a different dimension to the study.
‘The most challenging aspect of the course without doubt was fitting it into my already busy life. I went part-time at school, but found that the journey to Oxford from Ipswich each week ate into my study time. I was unable, sadly, to spend long hours in Oxford libraries, and had to be very proactive in finding books and journals so that I could study at home.
‘I found every aspect of the course both rewarding and stimulating. The lectures were fascinating and the field trips a complete eye-opener. However, I would have to say that the most rewarding aspects were the Historic Conservation Unit and the Dissertation. The former took me completely out of my comfort zone, and allowed me to understand the small building I chose, the Bell Cage at East Bergholt, completely. This structure is so well fitted to its task that it has not changed significantly since the Seventeenth Century! The Dissertation gave me the opportunity to research from primary sources, and the building I chose, the Chapel at my College, was very close to my heart yet completely unknown to the outside world. It was a journey of revelation.
‘Now I have finished the course, I am back at school and considering my options. I would love to continue my study of Architectural History, and would particularly like to pursue post World War Two religious architecture, as I feel that I have only scratched the surface. I am currently turning my Dissertation into a digestible booklet on the Chapel to support the College’s charitable activities.
‘What I would say to anyone considering an Oxford course - and especially this one - is: take the plunge. Your investment in time and energy will be well rewarded. The course has taught me both knowledge and skills and has made me hungry for more.’