Anna Bramwell-Dicks

PhD in Computer Science
Use of music in human-computer interfaces

Why did you choose to study for your PhD at York?

I did my MSc here, in Human-Centered Interactive Technologies, so I was familiar with the University, the Department and the city. Most importantly, I had built up a good working relationship with the academics working within human-computer interaction (HCI) at York.

The sub-set of HCI that I wanted to pursue for my PhD is a new, innovative area where very little research has been conducted before. The academics at York supported my research proposal, going as far as to help me to formulate the proposal and source funding. The support I was given at the application stage was a clear factor in helping me to choose to study at York. The academics in the group are internationally renowned for their research - as I wish to remain in academia in the future, the opportunity to work closely with academics with such strong reputations was another key factor.

What do you particularly like about being a Computer Science student at York?

I really like being a PhD student in the Department of Computer Science at York, being constantly surrounded by bright but approachable people from a variety of fields that are very different to my own. The result is that I’m constantly learning about wider Computer Science topics and not just limiting my knowledge to my specific area.

The opportunities to train as a postgraduate towards a career as an academic have also been very valuable to me. The University’s Researcher Development Team (RDT) run a lot of training courses for postgraduate researchers. Courses range from those focused on improving teaching skills, to those about understanding the research funding process, the importance of “impact” and the Research Excellence Framework and training on improving presentation skills.

Through the RDT I am taking a 20 M-level credit course called Preparing Future Academics (PFA). This course is, in essence, 1/3 of a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education. By completing the PFA course during my PhD, I hope this will set me apart from other candidates when applying for academic roles once I have completed my research.

The social side of the department is also a key factor in my happiness here, as there is usually someone willing to go to the pub for a couple of drinks and chat after work on a Friday night. During these sessions I have received valuable mentoring and advice from both early and later career academics, as well as having lots of fun times!

I also really love living in this city. York is a beautifully historic city where there is always something going on; from the huge markets in the city centre to the York Festival of Lights, there’s always something to do. A particular favourite of mine is York Resident’s weekend, where the many tourist attractions are free to attend if you are a resident of the city.

I love going to see live music and there’s plenty of that going on in York with some great jazz at local pubs and good music at the live music venues. For more renowned acts, I often hop over to Leeds or Manchester on the train for the night to see a gig; the fact that you can get back to York late at night from these big cities is a big plus for me. You’ll often find me on the 1am train back from Manchester having been to the MEN or Manchester Academy!

Would you recommend York and the Department of Computer Science?

Yes! I really enjoy studying here, because of the friendly and approachable nature of all of the staff and students in the Department and the high quality facilities. The fact that the University has a Duck of the Day Twitter feed shows the humour and fun approach to life and research taken at the University of York.