Case study

MA Disability Studies — Ella Houston

Ella Houston graduated with distinction in MA Disability Studies and is now focusing on her PhD. She hopes to become a university lecturer in the future

I began my Disability Studies BA at Liverpool Hope University in 2010, graduating with a first-class honours degree.

During this time I developed a strong appreciation and interest in disability studies theory and knowledge. My experience at Hope was extended by working as an academic support worker and writing mentor.

Following this, I completed the Disability Studies MA in the faculty of education at Hope, for which I was delighted to gain a distinction.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time studying on the MA course, particularly reflecting on critical disability theory and critically analysing models of disability. Near the end of my MA course, I was honoured to receive the Centre for Culture and Disability Studies (CCDS) Prize for Research Excellence.

Whilst studying I became keenly interested in the research of Dr David Bolt, my MA tutor and dissertation supervisor. In particular, his work on disability, aesthetics and advertising extended my understanding of the complex relationship between disability and culture, and cultivated my own research interest in applying feminist-disability studies perspectives on advertisements.

During my time at Hope I started a disability studies society, through which I enjoyed sharing updates on disability studies-related news and events. A key focus is promotion of the CCDS seminar series.

I have also submitted a research paper to the CCDS conference taking place next year titled 'Disability and Disciplines: The International Conference on Educational, Cultural, and Disability Studies'.

I have been delighted by having three research papers accepted for publication; they are currently undergoing the peer review process.

The papers are focused on cultural representations of disabled women, firstly in film and media, additionally in pharmaceutical advertisements from the mid-twentieth century, and the final paper is adapted from the research I conducted for the purposes of my MA, focusing on the representations of learning difficulties in mid-twentieth-century classic American novels.

I am looking forward to presenting a paper based on disability imagery and advertising at the British Sociological Association's 'Societies in Transition - Progression or Regression?' conference.

Alongside developing my own research interests and PhD study, I was extremely excited to join Dr Claire Penketh's Disability and Special Educational Needs team as an associate tutor in December 2014.

My aspirations for the future are to continue developing my research and work in feminist-disability studies. In terms of future career goals, I would like to work as a university lecturer in disability studies or a closely related subject.

I hope to continue making the most of my connection and energy for learning and research that was sparked years ago by the disability studies and SEN team at Liverpool Hope.