Amna Nazir, a former AHRC-funded doctoral student, talked to us about her experience completing a PhD with the Midlands3Cities DTP and the impact it had on her career.
Dr Amna Nazir began her AHRC-funded doctoral studies with M3C DTP within the University of Birmingham’s School of Theology and Religion and Birmingham City University’s School of Law, where her PhD explored the area of law and religion, specifically looking at Islamic Member States’ justification for the death penalty in the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review.
Since graduating in 2019, she has held positions as a Course Director for the LLM in International Human Rights and LLM in International Law at Birmingham City University Law School and Associate Director for its flagship Centre for Human Rights. Most recently, she has secured an appointment as the Editor for Harvard Law School’s renowned Program in Islamic Law, developing initiatives in Islamic law and data science and curating thematic roundtables and symposia, and a fellowship at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights.
Ahead of applying for her PhD, Amna recalls that she was keen to undertake an AHRC studentship due to the possibility of cross-collaboration at both the supervisory level as well as via the benefits of accessing resources and facilities across the institutions within M3C.
Amna has continued to build upon skills obtained during her studies, such as project management, public-speaking and networking. These skills are used when undertaking work for the BCU Centre for Human Rights, in particular, through community engagement, human rights activism and through providing consultancy services to governments and non-governmental organisations. Amna is also pleased to be able to utilise the research skills gained during her doctoral training within her lecturing role.
As a DTP student, Amna was able to access funding to support her studies which ranged from professional development activities to facilitating networking and professional relationships. Amna convened four academic conferences and travelled overseas to undertake field work and disseminate her findings to the wider public. This ultimately helped build her research profile and thus secure a full-time position in academia.
Amna explains that while doctoral study is often thought to be an isolating experience, being part of the DTP gave her a sense of community and belonging. Being part of the M3C cohort allowed her to foster meaningful relationships between researchers and other students. When asked if she would have done anything differently during her studies or early career stage, Amna was eager to tell us that she would not have wanted to change her experience.
Asked what advice she would offer to current PhD students wishing to pursue a career in academia, Amna explains the importance of attending networking events and taking advantage of opportunities, such as publishing in journals or presenting work at academic conferences which will test the theories you hold and allow you to gain valuable feedback from experts in your field.
Another practical piece of advice that Amna extends to current students is to be mindful of a worklife balance. “Taking regular breaks is crucial for your health and wellbeing. During my doctoral studies, I made sure to take regular breaks and it really did wonders!”