A launchpad for my career development

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Dr Jeannie Hill Bulman
J H Bulman Consultancy
PhD in Digital Literacies
Earning a PhD in Digital Literacies gave Dr Jeannie Hill Bulman the confidence, credibility and profile to succeed as an expert in her field and start her own consultancy business.

Why did you choose your course at Sheffield?

The University of Sheffield was my first and only choice for the completion of my PhD.

The reason behind this was the quality of the tutorial support that I knew I would receive. I had previously read the work of, and been involved in projects alongside, Professor Jackie Marsh.

As soon as I had identified a focus for my research, which was in the field of Professor Marsh’s expertise, I approached her to be my supervisor.

What expectations did you have of the course, and how did it meet those expectations?

I wanted to complete a longitudinal study which involved tracking a cohort of Key Stage 2 pupils for four years.

I realised that the support that I would require for this would need to be specifically tailored. I

expected to receive a number of tutorials in order to keep me on track, as well as support and challenge my thinking. These expectations were by far exceeded.

The tutorials were arranged at convenient times at relevant points throughout the research period.

I was directed towards relevant literature and provided with support and direction for the project.

Professor Marsh also provided the appropriate challenge to encourage me to think wider and deeper about my research, as well as helping me to consider the structure of the final thesis. As this was a longitudinal study, a wealth of data was collected.


I was helped to stay focused and in track in order to avoid the research becoming too general and superficial. The course was completely tailored to my needs and far exceeded expectations.

Dr Jeannie Hill Bulman

PhD in Digital Literacies


What were the highlights of your study?

I always looked forward to my tutorials. Also, although this may be unusual, I actually enjoyed my viva.

The examiners (Professor Andrew Burn and Dr Julia Davies) had a thorough knowledge of my thesis, and despite the ‘trepidation’ of an exam, it was great to be able to share my findings and talk about my research in this depth.

As well as the time spent at the university, I also thoroughly enjoyed my research visits to school.

Each visit was focused and felt quite ‘cutting-edge’ at times, as the pupils in the focus group guided my findings and further developed the progression framework.

What knowledge have you gained from the course?

I have experienced and developed a range of research methods throughout the study.

This has enabled me to support other students with their research (when working last year on the masters course at the University of Sheffield). Completing the PhD has considerably deepened my knowledge of research in general.

I have also had an interest in digital literacies, visual literacy and the use of film in the primary curriculum for many years.

I have worked on various projects with schools in this area and completed my masters on researching the impact of film in the curriculum on writing. It had been identified that one of the areas in need to further research in this field was a structure of progression.

With this in mind, I decided one of the most effective ways of attaining a progression in children’s reading of the film, and how this relates to the reading of print comprehension, would be to track a cohort of children across a key stage.

As my PhD research was routed in a true passion, it was exciting to design and deliver the project, then analyse and write up the findings. As a result, I feel I have gained an in depth knowledge in this specific field.


As my PhD research was routed in a true passion, it was exciting to design and deliver the project, then analyse and write up the findings. As a result, I feel I have gained an in depth knowledge in this specific field.

Dr Jeannie Hill Bulman


What have you achieved since graduation?

My background is in primary teaching and I have been an English Subject Leader and Deputy Headteacher in two primary schools. I have also been a Teaching and Learning Consultant in two local authorities.

Since graduation, I have set up my own successful training and consultancy business (J H Bulman Consultancy).

This is now in its second year and provides training and consultancy on a regional and national basis to primary schools, through presentations at conferences, writing and delivering courses and inset days, and bespoke consultancy for all English curriculum needs.

I also worked part time at Sheffield University for a year, providing tutorial provision for masters students.

Publications – I currently have a UKLA Mini-book due to be published in Autumn 2017, co-authored with Dr Becky Parry entitled ‘Film Education, Literacy and Learning’.

My own research from my thesis is also due to be published by Palgrave McMillan later this year – ‘Children’s Reading of Film and Visual Literacy in the Primary Curriculum: A Progression Framework Model’.

How do you feel the course has prepared you for your life after University?

My course at The University of Sheffield served as a launchpad for my career development.

Receiving my doctorate added to my credibility as an expert in the field of primary phase English and gave me the confidence to establish my own training and consultancy business.

In addition, my profile in the literacy community has been raised through invitations to speak nationally and internationally about the research which I undertook as part of my course. 

This benefit will be enhanced further when the research from my own thesis is published later this year.

I also find myself in a position where I can disseminate the skills and knowledge of research techniques, which I have acquired during my course, to other educational professionals through training sessions and individual support.

Moreover, I hope to use these skills and techniques to carry out further research projects in the future which will be aimed at improving the attainment in English of pupils in the primary phase.

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