Graduate schools would provide postgraduates at provincial universities with a stimulating intellectual atmosphere, says the only full-time employee at Southampton's new Arts Research and Graduate School.
Kevin Sharpe, professor of history, has been seconded to the school for five years to concentrate on his research -- on the representation of authority and images of power in the period between Henry VIII and William III -- and on graduate teaching.
Professor Sharpe said: "Postgraduates in provincial universities often suffer from isolation. I remember how much I got out of there being about 40 people working on 16th and 17th-century history when I was a postgraduate at Oxford, and I feel sympathy for those who find themselves one of only two or three in their subject. And while Oxbridge and London will always have advantages in this area. I think that bringing students together in graduate schools will help."
Of the school's 120 students, more than 70 are taking the new interdisciplinary master's degrees launched this year.
Professor Sharpe said he expected a growth in demand for MAs and hoped that some students carried on to doctorate level.