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Angela Matthews

LLM General

Postgraduate diploma in Law

After completing a BA in Religious Studies, Angela Matthews was keen to pursue an additional  educational and career trajectory. After some online research, the Kent-based student found Birkbeck’s Certificate in Legal Methods. After successfully completing that, she progressed on to the Postgraduate Diploma in Law, and hasn’t looked back since. She is now considering at PhD at Birkbeck, which she will combine while working as a senior consultant at Business Disability Forum

Here, Angela talks about her experiences at Birkbeck, and how it has helped her grow in many areas of her life.

Why did you decide to enrol at Birkbeck?

I enrolled at Birkbeck because I wanted a qualification which would enhance my professional career. Birkbeck was an easy choice for me – firstly because the lectures were in the evenings which meant I could study after work and, secondly, because the lecturers themselves were professionals practicing in the field they were teaching in. This was helpful for a law qualification; often my lecturer would come to lectures straight from court or meeting a client.

What has the flexibility of studying in the evening meant to you?

Being able to study in the evening was the only way I would have been able to continue my academic studies at that time. Without Birkbeck’s flexibility, I would not have the qualifications that I have now.

What was your previous experience of higher/further education?

I am someone who loves academia, so Birkbeck was my way of getting qualifications to get me to the position of being able to apply for a research-based PhD whilst enhancing my professional profile. I had a BA(Hons) degree before I started studying at Birkbeck. All of my academic programmes have been really fulfilling for me.

How did/do you cope with the pressures of studying?

Studying whilst working full-time is hard – and tiring. But most of the other students in my classes were in the same situation. This meant that most of them were there because they genuinely wanted to be there; it also meant they were dedicated and hard-working.

It was a very motivating environment – which is important when you’re still in lectures at nearly 9pm when you’ve been in the office since 7:30am that morning!

What was your relationship like with the academic staff?

The lecturers were just fantastic. They were both fascinating and inspiring to listen to. Their knowledge was in-depth and current – both in terms of the academic subject and also the professional reality of working in the field of law.

How did you find the facilities at Birkbeck?

Birkbeck had everything I needed. The library is fantastic, and I never had to request resources from outside of Birkbeck. I have stayed an alumni member of the library because of its range of resources.

What did your family/friends think of your decision to return to studying?

My family, friends and colleagues were initially concerned for my decision to study whilst working full-time – mostly because they were worried about me being able to cope and being tired after long days and then having a commute to outside of London late in the evening to get home again. My family and friends are now used to and support my work-study dual-existence which is now a really important aspect of ‘me’.

My professional career and my academic studies enhance and complement one another. At work, my clients appreciate and are always interested in the breadth of insight and critical thinking that academia has trained me in, and my academic career – even at postgraduate research level –  has benefitted from understanding the reality of industry and how ‘business’ works.

What did you hope to gain from your time at Birkbeck in personal terms?

I wanted a recognised qualification, but I also wanted a personally enjoyable and fulfilling experience. Birkbeck gave me all three.

Has it changed you as a person?

My Birkbeck qualifications gave me more confidence with what I do for a living. I also learnt other things about myself: my capacity for endurance (such as a long working day and then three hours of lectures, and what really motivates me (both academically and professionally).It also enhanced my professional and personal confidence.

How will the knowledge you have gained help in your life?

When I applied to work at my current company, the director who interviewed me specifically picked up on my Birkbeck postgraduate law qualification. She told me she liked that I had this. I got the job, and I was also promoted within a year of being at the company.

What would your life had been like if you hadn’t come to Birkbeck?

Birkbeck gave me two incredibly happy and fulfilling years. I still use the library and am a regular at Birkbeck’s various Institutes’ open lectures and conferences. I know Birkbeck to be a learning environment where I am confident in myself, where I am constantly inspired, and where I know I can thrive and reach my potential. Birkbeck is now one of the universities to which I have applied to do my PhD.

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'My Birkbeck qualifications gave me more confidence with what I do for a living.'