Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Education

Maria Rapti

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) | 2012-2016

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

My Bachelor’s degree is in Primary Education, which I obtained at the School of Education at the University of Ioannina in Greece (2007-2011). I also have a Master’s degree in Special Educational Needs, which I studied for at the School of Education at the University of Leeds (2011-2012). All the above has fed into my PhD work, which is funded by the University of Leeds.

What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?

During my Bachelor’s and Master’s studies, I became interested in issues related to both leadership and inclusion. The potential of conducting research which could improve leadership activity and consequently could also impact positively on achievement of students with Special Educational Needs motivated me to undertake PhD study. At the very least, one of the incentives was also the fact that studying towards a PhD would contribute to my professional development.

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?

I am interested in the wellbeing of students with Special Educational Needs. The area of inclusive leadership is under-researched, making me passionate to contribute to the knowledge in this field.

What do you think of your course so far? What aspects of the course have you enjoyed the most or are looking forward to the most?

Despite the fact that there are many myths around doing a PhD that fill students who embark on their studies with dread or delight, my personal experience of undertaking this course so far has been intense yet enjoyable and rewarding. It has given me the opportunity to discover and learn new things in a field that I am passionate about and, through its ups and downs, it has facilitated my professional and personal growth. The process of getting to understand and solve problems with the support of the supervisors, yet working independently, offers the feeling of self-satisfaction and increases your confidence.

What would you say about the learning facilities in the School and at the University in general?

The learning facilities at the University of Leeds are probably its most important asset. There is state of the art equipment and software available to students. Recent developments include a new library and the restoration of the old ones, which all provide access to innumerate books, journals and other resources. Most importantly though, there are services like the Skills@library which guide students in developing their academic skills and making the most out of the resources.

What would you say about Leeds as a city?

Leeds is a great city to study at. The single-site campus is just a short walk from the centre of Leeds, which is small but compact and perfectly formed. Over recent years, it has been rapidly developed and there is something for everyone. Having a massive student population from all over the world, Leeds could be characterised as a vibrant city which has opportunities for all tastes in terms of going out and having fun. Apart from being a thriving cosmopolitan city, it is also a perfect gateway to Yorkshire, which is great for outdoor activities.

What do you like to do outside of studying?

The academic activities are a big part of the PhD life, but there is always time and energy for other activities. Leeds University Union (LUU) is an award-winning students' union and includes many different clubs and societies that students can join. I’ve been a member of the swing dance group, where I met friends whom I socialise with in Leeds.

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?

Doing a PhD is a life changing process, which involves personal and professional growth. It is challenging, but it gives you the freedom to take control of your own learning and to acquire skills and experiences that outweigh the required effort.

What do you plan to do once you’ve finished your course?

After my PhD, I hope to continue researching best educational practices related to inclusion of students with Special Educational Needs, alongside teaching within Higher Education translating research into theory and practice informing stakeholders’ practices.

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