IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Q&A with Luna Zheng

Luna Zheng is a doctoral student from China. She is studying for a PhD in Music Education and is expected to graduate in 2023 and she tells us about her experiences of studying at IOE.

A photo of Luna Zheng in her graduation robes smiling in front of a UCL sign. Permission: Luna Zheng.
What is your thesis about?

My thesis is about the educational and professional experiences of female musicians in underrepresented roles. I am focusing on their life trajectories, identities and the surrounding historical and social discourses.

I hope to contribute to the theoretical advancement of the sociology of music education by understanding these extraordinary women for the first time in our contemporary world.

I have already been interviewing some notable figures worldwide, including conductors, brass players, composers and music producers.

What inspired you to take up your field of study?

My inspiration comes from my background as a musician and music educator in China and the UK. I have been intrigued and inspired by the life stories of musician friends.

Female musicians’ life histories have important social justice connotations. These lives have not been thoroughly researched too, so it is important to articulate and disseminate their stories for the first time.

I hope to generate debate about how we live, our relationships with each other, gender, and music careers.

What motivated you to pursue a doctoral degree, and what were you doing before this?

I have worked as a full-time music teacher, a curriculum designer, and a part-time performing musician before I embarked on my postgraduate studies - two MAs, including UCL’s Music Education MA and my current PhD. I have met wonderful teachers, researchers and colleagues at  IOE and UCL who have greatly motivated me to pursue my doctoral studies. I am also very passionate about my research area.

What will your next ventures be career-wise?

I have recently applied for an Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy with the support of UCL Arena and the Music Education MA team. This has been extremely helpful in supporting my development as a university educator.

Now, I hope to apply for the Fellowship qualification. After completing my PhD, I will be turning my attention to developing a portfolio of publications. I aspire to work in Higher Education to teach and supervise postgraduate students and undertake further research.

What was the most helpful element of the doctoral programme?

The learning opportunities and facilities for doctoral students at IOE and UCL are extremely helpful, including IOE’s Researcher Training Programme and UCL's Doctoral Skills Development Programme. These are superbly well-designed and delivered.

The supervision we receive is also immensely helpful. This was a key reason why I embarked on my PhD journey at IOE. Additionally, IOE has a substantial history of serving schools and education more broadly in London, the UK and globally, with many great connections, e.g., in schools, educational organisations, and music education scholarship worldwide. 

How do you think the system of learning or researching at UCL differs from that in your home country?

The impression I have is that UCL offers more for its students, not only in terms of its academic support, but also with their general care, including in areas of health and wellbeing or careers.

I completed my Mental Health First Aid champion training at UCL, for example. IOE also has world-leading academics who understand and support their students. The administrative and technical teams are also fabulous. 

Is there anything else you would like to say about your time at IOE?

IOE is a dynamic, inclusive faculty and learning community where you feel respected and cared for during your development.

When I started here as an MA student, I felt very welcome and have now found a home.

I would like to welcome all the new students we have, especially international students who have bravely come to the UK. I would like to say they are in the right place. I hope that I can contribute to their academic journey at the IOE.

Last updated 22 February 2023.