"I decided to stay at the Department of Sociological Studies as it is a supportive and research focused department with an excellent reputation."

Sociological Studies PhD student Sarah Baz
Sarah Baz
PhD student
Sociological Studies
Growing up in Sheffield, Sarah always dreamed of studying at the University of Sheffield. After completing her undergraduate degree here in Sociology and Social Policy, Sarah decided to stay at the University to progress her studies and pursue her growing research passion.
Sociological Studies PhD student Sarah Baz

Why did you originally choose to study at the University of Sheffield?

Being brought up in Sheffield I occasionally used to go past the University's main buildings, aspiring to one day study at the University of Sheffield. Having studied sociology in sixth form, I wanted to advance my sociological knowledge and was particularly interested in pursuing social policy alongside this. Attending an open day provided further insight into sociology at Sheffield and I was particularly impressed by current students' presentations about conducting their own sociological research projects. I was delighted to then secure a place at the University. 

Tell us a little about your higher education journey at the University of Sheffield...

I studied BA Sociology and Social Policy, followed by an MA in Social Research at Sheffield. I then secured an ESRC +3 PhD scholarship during my Masters degree study to pursue a PhD with the Department of Sociological Studies, exploring experiences of Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslim lone mothers.  

At the end of each programme of study, what made you decide to move to the next level, and at Sheffield?

I was not really sure whether I wanted to advance my studies after completing my undergraduate degree, however during the third year I completed a dissertation project which really brought forward my passion for conducting research. Pursuing a postgraduate Masters degree would not have been possible without achieving a scholarship from the University. This was key to further advancing my studies. Finally, I pursued a PhD as I wanted to further explore the topic of lone motherhood amongst Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslim women, merging my interest in sociology and social policy. I decided to stay at the Department of Sociological Studies as it is a really friendly, supportive and research focused department with an excellent research reputation. My supervisors and staff are very committed in supporting students to achieve their best potential and critically engage in research.

Tell us a little about your current PhD research and why you chose this area of research...

I have just submitted my PhD, which explores the lived experiences of Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslim (PBM) lone mothers, intersectionality and the role of South Asian women's organisations in their lives. My initial interest in this area of study emerged from personal experience of growing up in a lone mother headed family. I also noticed a gap in research; PBM women are often marginalised in family and lone motherhood studies. Through exploring lone mothers' experiences, I was also able to challenge the negative racialised stereotypical perceptions of migrant PBM women, presenting their strength and agency. I also enjoyed conducting qualitative research, gaining insights into individuals' lived experiences and the different aspects in society (e.g. social policy) which shape their lives. 

What do you think about Sheffield as a city? What is your favourite thing to do here?

Sheffield is my hometown; it has a variety of green spaces to enjoy whatever the weather and has great places to eat and shop! People are genuinely really kind. The city has almost a small village town kind of feel and I live amongst a brilliant small community, which I'd prefer any day to the big city. And I don't mind walking on the steep hills, either! 

What are your plans for the future, following the completion of your PhD?

Following the completion of my PhD I hope to pursue a career in research, preferably in academia. I would love to further expand and develop my research or work on other research projects broadly matching my areas of interest. During my PhD I have had many great opportunities to develop my career, such as attending the 2019 Annual British Sociological Association conference and being a research assistant for a NIHR funded project. I have gained many valuable interpersonal and research skills, which will be useful for whatever comes my way in the future (given the current Covid climax, I think we've all learnt that anything can happen). I've also met some brilliant individuals in the Department and definitely made great friends with fellow PhD students. 

What advice would you offer to new students?

My advice would be to really enjoy your time in the Department, it's a great opportunity to explore a research topic which you are interested in and passionate about. Beyond studying, make the most out of any opportunities that come your way during your time at University. Finally, really enjoy your time carrying out fieldwork. Looking back it has been one of the best parts of the PhD; I've met lots of lovely people and inspirational women.

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