There are lots of differing reasons why people may choose to begin a course of PGR study, and there’s no one ‘right’ reason to do it. However, most of the current PGRs and supervisors we spoke to agreed that there are some reasons that make it easier to begin than others!
The view from students
Here are some of the reasons students we spoke to gave for why they began a PhD:
- Progressing through an academic career – many students told us they were studying for a PhD as they are aiming for careers in academia, and a PhD is a requirement for most academic jobs.
- Passion for the subject area, and learning in general – Many students emphasised their love of certain topics in their subject area as the reason for doing a PhD, and also mentioned a general love of learning as being important.
- Wanting to contribute to knowledge – “I want to contribute knowledge to my subject area and PhD research is the way to do that,” one student told us. “A PhD is supposed to be a work of original research, and I know I’ll make a specific contribution with my project.”
- Personal development – several students talked of their desire to increase their transferable skills in several areas. “Doing the PhD will increase my sense of personal belief,” one student reports – “taking on the challenge of a PhD and completing it is an amazing achievement!” Another PGR said, “this is a self-development project. I’m learning a lot about myself and how I work and really what I can do.”
The view from supervisors
Here’s a summary of what supervisors from throughout the Faculty told us about why students might want to begin a PhD.
All the supervisors we spoke to said the most important reason to do a PhD was deep interest in the subject area and a desire to contribute to knowledge. Several supervisors also mentioned that the main reason to do a PhD was the desire to pursue an academic career. One supervisor pointed out that there is almost an expectation that everyone doing a PhD is aiming for a career in academia. “This can make the PhD experience more difficult for anyone who is not following an academic career,” he told us.