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History - Sian Pooley

Sian Pooley is a graduate student at St John’s. She attended a state grammar school in north Lancashire before coming to study history at St John’s in 2002. Sian graduated from her undergraduate degree with a double Starred First in 2005, having achieved the highest result in her year in both Part I and Part II. She then continued to study at Cambridge, gaining a distinction in the MPhil in Economic and Social History in 2006. Sian is now working towards a PhD in Social History.

'St John’s is a wonderful community in which to study history. The Cambridge undergraduate history tripos is academically challenging, but St John’s provided the support and encouragement that allowed me to make the most of the opportunities that it offered. It has been a real privilege to attend individual supervisions with some of the world’s experts on particular historical subjects, and their teaching has inspired me in my own research.

The papers that I studied as an undergraduate were very eclectic, ranging from medieval political history, to the cultural history of early modern European cities, to nineteenth-century British social history. As well as developing my broader historical understanding, this allowed me to identify areas of scholarship that especially interested me, and to make links between these subjects and approaches. Above all, studying history at St John’s taught me how to learn independently, and how to think and write critically. I particularly appreciated the opportunity to research my own dissertation in Part II – on Victorian domestic service – and this convinced me that I would enjoy continuing at Cambridge for postgraduate study.

My current research is on parenthood and childrearing in late-nineteenth-century England. This was the subject of my MPhil dissertation, and I am now developing and extending this work for my PhD thesis. I am a Prize Research Student at the Centre for History and Economics, and more details about my research can be found on their website:

Postgraduate study at Cambridge is very different to undergraduate life, with greater emphasis placed on detailed archival work and on interacting with research groupings beyond the College. However, St John’s offers considerable financial and social support for graduate history students, and provides a friendly and stimulating research community in which to study.

Sian was recently awarded the Prince Consort and Thirlwall Prize and the Seeley medal for her PhD thesis "Parenthood and child-rearing in England, c 1860-1910'

  - Sian Pooley, graduated 2005