Chris Barber

Chris is studying for a PhD in History.

Chris Barber

“I found out about the University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarships from the university website. Having the scholarship has provided me with the means to conduct my research without the more routine yet all-consuming realities of financial concerns, the student loan (which I am on the verge of paying off, give or take a year), and living costs. At the same time, the generous stipend is sufficient to enable me to do overseas research trips. In sum, it has made the doctoral research possible.

 “The University of Auckland is a top-achieving university that constantly produced high results internationally. Moreover, the understated yet well-organised New Zealand approach to education provides me the means to conduct high-calibre research without the baggage and stifling formality of other institutions that may lack the innovative spirit.

“There is a high level of academic freedom in the Faculty of Arts. This seems to be based on respect for the postgraduate researcher’s personal style, allowing students to get on with the business at hand without encumbrances or unnecessary bureaucracy. At the same time, there are support mechanisms for when students require greater assistance.

 “The postgraduate student culture in History is very well organised. There is a small yet budding group of postgrad students, all doing research in international history. They gravitate around Dr Maartje Abbenhuis, whose pioneering research in international history in the nineteenth century has opened up an exciting field for postgraduates, which few universities are able to offer. We meet regularly for workshops and talks, creating a social yet thought-provoking context for research.

“My supervisor suggested my research topic, based on my previous Masters’ research, which I did under her tutelage. It was practically custom-made for me, working with my preference for looking at ‘big ideas’. Seeing the possibilities, I was easily persuaded by the research topic and was particularly encouraged by the enthusiasm of my supervisor.

“I am writing a history of international arbitration in the nineteenth century. Arbitration is a peaceful means of resolving disputes between parties with an arbitrator. In the nineteenth century, arbitration played a pivotal role in the developing legal architecture of international society, culminating with the establishment of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 1899 – the first international court, which still operates today. My research attempts to trace the use of arbitration to resolve international disputes amongst states during the period, and how this worked with the development and institutionalisation of modern international law.”

Find out more about studying History.