January 5, 2021, by Joseph Walters
A PhD? Where?
By Joseph George Walters, PhD Engineering Surveying and Space Geodesy
In my previous blog I wrote about the experiences that played a part in my decision to pursue a PhD. In this blog I look at the main factors that I considered when deciding to do a PhD at the University of Nottingham.
It would have been uncharacteristic of me not to consider geographical location as an influencing factor. The city of Nottingham is located in the middle of the UK. It is ideal for exploring my home country. As the crow flies Nottingham is also 70 miles from my parents in York, 32 miles from my brother as he was about to start university at Lincoln, and 70 and 110 miles from my extended family in Warrington and London respectively. I found these numbers very satisfying. They meant that my family were within relatively easy reach, despite later discovering that Nottingham’s train services can be surprisingly indirect. Location was the first factor I considered, although it is not as important for everyone.
The PhD I was offered at Nottingham was based at the Nottingham Geospatial Institute (NGI) on Jubilee campus. Having spent my undergraduate years on University Park campus, I saw Jubilee as a fresh start, almost like how a new university would feel, but with the added advantage of not having to start the whole university experience (and the admin) from scratch. The NGI is a leading cross-disciplinary research institute at the University. For someone interested in geospatial engineering it was a serious contender for postgraduate study. Jubilee also had a strong reputation as a sustainable campus which interested me and was relevant to my research proposal.
My final year project supervisor worked hard to secure me funding. It was their commitment and support that made me feel confident enough to apply. It also transpired that I knew many of the academic staff at the NGI from my undergraduate years. Two of them had been my personal tutors and so I had already established strong relationships. Consideration of a PhD supervisor and research group often plays a large part in deciding if and where to do a PhD. I am very fortunate to have had such as good relationship with mine.
Funding is a very important factor to consider. A long-term commitment like a PhD is going to be a lot less stressful if money is not a worry. Following the efforts of my supervisor, I was offered EPSRC funding for three and a half years to study at Nottingham. This finalised my decision to pursue a PhD here.
Despite deciding to stay at Nottingham I had also considered other postgraduate opportunities elsewhere. If you are considering postgraduate study, Nottingham is a great option, but I would strongly recommend considering alternatives as well. A PhD is a highly independent and individual experience. Your decision on whether and where to pursue it should depend on what you feel is right for you, both personally and professionally.
Are you considering further study? Take a look at our Thinking about a PhD page. We also have lots of information on sources of postgraduate funding. If you are interested in geospatial engineering and data science, applications for the fully-funded Geospatial Systems CDT are open for 2021.
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