Esther Renwick

Postgraduate Student of the Year 2017

Esther Renwick has been awarded the title of University of the Highlands and Islands’ Postgraduate Student of the Year 2017.

Esther, from Stromfirth, Shetland, achieved her PhD in archaeology while bringing up three small children, and by studying part time over a ten year period at Shetland College UHI.

Esther’s thesis explored the most effective ways to present archaeological monuments to the public. She analysed online reviews, interviewed visitors and observed how people move through archaeological sites. Using philosophical and anthropological concepts of human behaviour and responses to the world around them, she created recommendations for a more engaging visitor experience.

Esther was nominated for the Postgraduate Student of the Year award by her PhD supervisor, Dr Simon Clarke. She was commended for her influential research, her community engagement and her dedication to her studies. Dr Clarke explained: “Esther started with us in 2007 and completed her thesis working around part time employment and three small children, two of whom were born during her studies. I nominated her not for what she has achieved in her final year, but for a decade of application. Her academic studies are very much having a practical application in the real world.”

Speaking about her award, Esther said: “I am so pleased to be recognised by the university, it has been a long journey but very worthwhile - the rural campuses and virtual learning environment enabled me to pursue my passion for presenting archaeology whilst also living in my dream location, working and raising a young family. My long suffering family also deserve a mention here, without their wholehearted support none of this would have been possible.”

Professor Clive Mulholland, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands, said: “I’m delighted that Esther has been selected as our Postgraduate Student of the Year. Esther’s story is a shining example of how our university can provide students with opportunities to conduct cutting-edge research within their local communities in subjects inspired by the people, environment, economy, culture and heritage of the Highlands and Islands.”

Esther was presented with a certificate and a cheque for £100 at the Shetland College UHI graduation ceremony. She has now taken up a communications role with the Shetland Arts Development Agency.