Dr Emma Harvey

PhD in Education, 2023. MA Childhood and Youth Studies, 2012. PGCE, 2011. BSc (Hons) Psychology and Sociology, 2010.

Dr Emma Harvey headshot After completing my undergraduate degree with University College Suffolk in 2010, I wanted to go into teaching. I applied for a place on the PGCE course, and Suffolk New College offered me a place as a trainee lecturer in their early years department. I completed my PGCE in a year and was offered a permanent position as a lecturer. I am still working at SNC today.

I completed an MA in Childhood and Youth studies between 2011 and 2012 with University College Suffolk whilst working as a newly qualified lecturer. I felt the MA helped me to bring together my years of experience as an early years practitioner and my current job role (as my undergraduate was psychology sociology, not early childhood studies), so the master's degree felt like a good way to develop my understanding of contemporary childhood issues.

I had enjoyed my time at UCS so much that I wanted to do a PhD; I felt my learning journey was not yet completed. In 2018 I found an opportunity for a research subject and spoke with my supervisor about the idea. I was pleased they felt it was a solid grounding for research, and I began my PhD journey in September 2018. I had just started my data collection when national lockdowns were announced in 2020, so I had to adjust my research methods considerably. However, I persevered and managed to completed my data collection in a reasonable time. My Viva was in August 2023, and I was thrilled to pass with minor corrections. I was awarded my PhD in September 2023!

Although having a doctorate is not essential to work in further education, it has definitely helped my confidence. I feel very well qualified, and I believe the research journey and what I have learned about research and contemporary issues in early childhood has benefitted my own students. I have also had opportunities to work with awarding organisations in creating and reviewing courses for early years educators, been part of creating apprenticeships with apprenticeship trailblazer groups, and course validation processes with other universities that I may not have been able to access if I had not been working towards a PhD. I feel my doctorate will open up many more opportunities to me in the future.

Initially my choice to study at UCS was convenience. As a mature student (I was 31 when I started my undergraduate degree) with a young child in primary school and one at nursery, I could not move away to study at a university away from my home base. I had to continue working in my job whilst I studied, and my family network is in Suffolk. However, when deciding upon my university choice for master’s and PhD level I did not even look elsewhere. I had such as positive and enjoyable experience at UoS that I did not want to go anywhere else. I feel like part of the fabric of the university; when I began my undergrad degree, we were the first cohort to make use of the new build Waterfront building, and I have been studying there ever since. It feels like a second home to me! My eldest son has now completed his software engineering degree with University of Suffolk, and now my middle son is a now student there.

The university has fantastic facilities. For my courses, the facilities were classrooms, the library and study spaces that were all state of the art. I had never written on a wall with pen before! But the walls in the James Heir building are designed for use by groups who are mind mapping or gathering ideas and can be used as note pads! The facilities for group work (whether in a classroom or in the library pods) are really great.

For my sons who are tech students and graduates, the facilities are phenomenal. The Digitech centres at the waterfront atrium, and the BT Adastral park are filled with the most current equipment that can really place students in a fantastic position for employment. There is also an amazing health campus about to open.

Staff at the university are genuinely supportive, and their desire to be part of developing the university are evident in the frequent awards that are won across all departments, and the growth of the courses that are offered. The university is going from strength to strength. I feel very proud to be part of the University of Suffolk alumni, and I recommend the university to anyone who will listen! My supervisor once said to me that if I was a stick of rock, I would have the University of Suffolk written through me!

I had some of the best times as a student at University of Suffolk. Even though I did not have the traditional university experience of living away from home, I met some of the best people, and made lifelong friends. The university experience also opened up so many doors for my career.

As a child and young person I had never really thought about going to university. My parents had not been to university, and none of my family had studied at a higher education institution. I had a worked in early years for many years, and I needed a new challenge. I had definitely never considered going beyond an undergraduate degree until I began studying at UoS.

The culture of progression being achievable for all gave me aspirations that I could continue to postgraduate study, and it was encouraged by my lecturers. Once I completed my undergraduate degree, I knew I wanted to continue, and this was encouraged; I felt my lecturers believed I could progress. There was lots of information available about progressing to postgraduate study.

As a graduate, the aspirations for my own children to study at degree level have been part of our conversations about their career and education journeys from when they were very young. I am so proud of them for doing their degrees, and they both know that their commitment to their degrees is vital for their successful careers.

I found the student services available through the library really helpful. With a gap of six years between my MA and PhD, I needed a refresher on academic referencing, literature searching, and writing critically, and the webinars, workshops, one-to-one tutorials, and group seminars were really helpful tools.

"My supervisor once said to me that if I was a stick of rock, I would have the University of Suffolk written through me!"

Dr Emma Harvey