Harry Imlack - PhD Journey

Harry Imlack
Harry Imlack
PhD Student
School of Law
Harry Imlack tells us why he became a student here at the University of Sheffield, his research interests and top tips for those thinking about doing a PhD at the School of Law.
Harry Imlack sitting on a bench outside of Bartolome House

My name is Harry Imlack and I started studying for my PhD at the University of Sheffield in October 2021. Although I do not currently live in Sheffield, it is where I was born and grew up. Doing my PhD here has been a great opportunity to rediscover this friendly and vibrant city. 

I have wanted to do a PhD since I was an undergraduate. I began studying for my LLB in 2016 with the intention of eventually qualifying as a solicitor. It soon became clear, however, that legal practice would not have been the right career choice for me. I found myself facing a dilemma. On the one hand, I no longer wanted to go into practice, but on the other, I was thoroughly enjoying my degree and studies. 

I had become very interested in, and even passionate about, contemporary legal issues and problems. In particular, the area of UK public and constitutional law. After speaking to some of my lecturers, I began to consider the possibility of taking my interests further by pursuing a career in academia. I went on to complete an LLM, while simultaneously developing my own research interests and what would eventually become my PhD proposal. 

My main motivation for wanting to do a PhD is my own interest and passion in the subject area and my belief that I can contribute something new. A PhD offers the unique opportunity for you to focus on a project which is important to you and entirely your own. It is also the gateway to a career path which will allow me to continue this kind of work even after finishing my thesis. 

My research revolves around the issues and problems which may arise from constitutional change in the UK. In particular, I am looking at how best to understand, measure and evaluate these issues, within the UK’s distinct constitutional context. 

I am interested in constitutional law because it raises questions that, I think, are fundamental to the way our society and its political structure can be understood. It encourages us to consider the importance and role of notions such as democracy, fairness, accountability, and individual rights. Furthermore, we are in a period of significant constitutional change and re-evaluation in the UK. I think it is a particularly interesting time to be researching constitutional law, and there exists an opportunity to contribute to this ongoing process of re-evaluation.  

Doing a PhD has been far more challenging than I expected it to be. The first six months or so were a steep learning curve for me, and it took some time to adapt. Although it has been extremely challenging, it has been challenging in the best kind of way. I’ve been encouraged to push myself, both regarding my work specifically, and in regard to the development of broader skills. 

The number of other opportunities which present themselves while doing a PhD has also been surprising to me. Doing a PhD isn’t just about sitting by yourself and working. Finding ways to engage and share ideas with other academics, presenting your research at conferences, and teaching; opportunities like these are an important part of the PhD journey and have contributed towards the development of my own project more than I would have expected. 

Harry Imlack standing outside the front of Bartolome House

If you do a PhD, make sure you are doing it because it is something that you truly want to do. If that is the case, then try to enjoy it.

It is such a unique and brilliant experience which can easily become overshadowed by your own worries, anxieties, and expectations. 

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