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Alumni testimonials

Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Esther Wilkinson

BA (2009), German and Italian (ab initio)

MPhil (2010), European Literature and Culture

Research student in Clinical Psychology

I studied German and Italian (ab initio) as part of the MML Tripos, graduating in 2009, and went on to take the MPhil in European Literature and Culture in 2009-10. After finishing my MPhil I switched career track and took a one-year conversion course in Psychology.

Since then I have been employed mainly in psychological research, with a focus on developing and testing out therapies for parents who experience psychological problems during pregnancy and the first few years after the birth of their child. These have been joint projects between universities and the NHS, and have involved working with diverse populations with a wide range of difficulties. In October I will be starting my Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, which involves a mixture of teaching, on-the-job clinical training and individual research work. It is funded by the NHS and will qualify me to work as a Clinical Psychologist.

This may at face value seem quite a jump from studying MML, but I feel that the MML course was in many ways an excellent preparation for the work I do now. I first started thinking seriously about pursuing a career in psychology in my final year, when I was reading a lot of German Thought, including the writing of Freud and other psychoanalytic theorists. I found this fascinating, and went on to write my final year dissertation on the representation of madness through music in German literature, a theme which I developed further during my MPhil.

Being a linguist is all about communication, and that is one of the most important skills you need as a psychologist. The MML course really encouraged me to engage at a variety of levels with different cultures, and the year abroad in particular gave me a brilliant opportunity to develop my interpersonal skills. The fact that the course is demanding and very varied – encompassing not only language, but literature, thought and history as well – meant that I emerged with well-rounded skills, strong initiative and the confidence to tackle complex and challenging situations. This was invaluable preparation for a career which combines ‘hands-on’ people-focused work with research, and which involves working in a large, busy and constantly evolving environment such as the NHS.