Oliver Puckey portrait and with a guitar

Name: Oliver Puckey

Hometown: London, United Kingdom

Extracurricular interests: Listening to and performing music, travel, reading, film

Postgraduate degree: PhD in History

Life before Catz

“I completed my undergraduate studies in History at the University of Manchester between 2015 and 2018. This was followed by a year at University College London in 2018–19 to complete my Master’s in History, where I developed an interest in the history of classical music and opera, and was lucky enough to take a two-week German language course in Vienna. Between my Master’s degree and starting my PhD in Cambridge, I worked for two years as a Libraries and Heritage Assistant in South London.”

Life at Catz

“Catz is a small and welcoming college, which, for someone unfamiliar with Cambridge’s collegiate system, made settling into academic life here easy. Everyone here is very friendly, and there is a strong sense of community spirit. Catz is also strongly invested in both the academic and pastoral aspects of university life, which I have appreciated. Its central location makes it a great place from which to start any exploration of Cambridge, and there are some excellent cafés in the immediate vicinity of the College!”

Postgraduate studies

“My PhD research looks at the circulation and reception of German classical music in nineteenth-century Europe, with a particular emphasis on its reception in Britain. I am interested in how music (and music criticism) became a vehicle through which broader developments, such as in philosophy, literature and religion, were articulated.”

The Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme

“Without securing funding it would not have been financially possible for me to pursue doctoral studies in Cambridge, so I am incredibly grateful for the support of the Harding programme in enabling me to do this. One of the joys of historical research is the opportunity that it opens up to travel to archives and libraries, as well as to meet other like-minded scholars at conferences both within and outside of the UK. For this, I am very grateful for the research allowance provided to Harding students. I have also been inspired by the breadth and depth of research being pursued by my fellow scholars on the Harding programme.”

Advice for undergraduates thinking of applying for postgraduate studies

“I think it is important to read as widely as possible around your area of interest before writing up a research proposal. Reaching out to a prospective supervisor as early as possible within the application cycle is also worthwhile, as they will be able to provide you with useful feedback and support. Last, although the application process can be very stressful and tense, it is rewarding when your hard work pays off!”