Centre for Global Development

Emily Preston

emily-preston-webDegree: MA by research Modern Languages

East Asian Studies, School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Graduation date:  December, 2012

What were you doing before you applied to your chosen programme?

After obtaining my International Baccalaureate Diploma in Thailand I decided to come to the University of Leeds in September 2006 to read a degree in Modern Chinese Studies. I graduated in 2010 with a BA (hons) first class and distinction in oral Chinese. This opened the door to various funding opportunities.

I was offered a fully funded prestigious Chinese Government Scholarship to study an MA degree in Shanghai, China. At the same time I was also offered a double-MA Chinese Studentship from the White Rose East Asia Centre (WREAC) at Leeds University, funded by the ESRC language-based areas studies (LBAS) scheme.

Why did you apply to the programme?

I decided to continue postgraduate study at the University of Leeds because of the strong research reputation of the University. I had already developed strong relationships with both my supervisor and other academic staff within my department. The support and inspiration that I received from them were one of the critical factors in my decision to stay at Leeds.

Furthermore, receiving a WREAC studentship meant that I would be incorporated into a scholarly community, with research supervision from Asian studies experts at both the universities of Leeds and Sheffield. Home to the National Institute of Chinese Studies and a member of the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) China seminar series, WREAC Leeds proved an attractive place to embark on research on China.

What are your best memories from studying at Leeds?

I have many great memories from my time at Leeds and I am sure more to come. What was nice about studying a difficult language like Chinese at undergraduate level was that class sizes were quite small and contact hours long. This meant that students got to know each other and develop friendships quickly.

Since the majority of students spent the second year at Capital Normal University in Beijing we became a close-knit group, solidifying friendships for life.  Leeds University has been a wonderful home for me for the past five years, where I have made significant intellectual and personal development but also made life-long friendships.

What distinctive skills did you learn from studying at Leeds?

During my undergraduate studies I acquired advanced Chinese linguistic skills and gained a broad understanding of Chinese culture, history, society, business and development. Although the course at Leeds is in modern Chinese I also had the opportunity to study classical and pre-modern Chinese. But the skills I gained at undergraduate level were not limited to linguistic and translation skills, but also essential analytical skills.

Furthermore, the taught MA in Advanced Chinese Studies provided me with language skills for advanced research as well as research training in area studies. I also had the opportunity to take basic Thai language courses during my taught postgraduate studies.

What are you doing now?

Having just completed my taught MA with distinction I am now beginning my MA by research on internal migration in China. Currently I am conducting my field research in Beijing, where I am being hosted at Peking University (equivalent to Oxford/Cambridge in the UK) as a senior visiting student. I am also interning at the University Chicago Centre, Beijing. I am primarily collecting secondary sources in the original Chinese language but I also hope to conduct interviews with domestic and international NGOs, other civil actors, and representatives of government organisations, international development agencies and academics based in Beijing.

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