Here you can read a selection of accounts from current students about what it's like to do a PhD at Lancaster University.
"When I heard about PhDs with industrial collaboration, I knew it was right for me.
After studying for 6 years, I thought perhaps I should put my skills to use in industry. If I hadn’t been introduced to the idea of a PhD in collaboration with a company I guess I would be at the beginning of my industrial career right now. However once I'd heard about PhDs with an industrial partner I didn’t have to think twice, I knew this was the best way for me. Not only could I apply my ideas, but also I could still be studying and learning new things. It seemed like a perfect combination.
Even though the start of a PhD can be challenging, once you begin to understand the methodology it becomes an exciting journey. Each little thing that I learn makes me feel that I've accomplished something. By setting myself milestones, I can also track my progress. However, the most important thing is a good relationship with my supervisors. Although the PhD is centred on independent work, good advice from your supervisors is priceless and can greatly improve the research.
Collaborating with Unilever is a great experience. Real-life data can be very challenging as it doesn't tend to conform to nice assumptions, but there is nothing more rewarding than applying my own work to real industrial problems. To get the most from the data it is important that both parties understand each other’s objectives, therefore, visits to the company and getting to know about their research work is crucial. Such collaboration develops numerous skills, including team work and the ability to explain your research to people from other disciplines.
I will always recommend doing a PhD in collaboration with a company. It is challenging, rewarding and the results can be easily seen through the application of the methodology by the company."
Click here to view Karolina’s personal profile page.
"Studying for a PhD is a lot more diverse and dynamic than I anticipated.
Progressing to a research degree from a taught degree can be daunting, but the PhD lifestyle offers a flexible and varied working life, with opportunities for creativity and individuality. My PhD topic was completely new to me, and was not related to any undergraduate courses I had taken; at first I found this daunting, but I soon found myself engrossed with the topic, and craving to explore more. As I progress further, a multitude of avenues down which I can explore are blossoming, each of these offering an exciting opportunity for me!
Working with Garrad Hassan has been very rewarding for me. I can see that the work I am doing has a purpose and hopefully, as I get further into my PhD, the models on which I am working will be useful within industry. Having a link with industry also provides areas in which to focus my studies, whilst giving me the opportunity to see how a company operates.
Doing a PhD isn’t as much about ‘reading’ and ‘writing’ as is often thought. Alongside my own studies, there is a wealth of seminars available to attend, in which other PhD students present their work, or businesses come and offer an insight into their current investigations and ideas. There are conferences and courses to attend, both at Lancaster itself, and further afield. There is also the opportunity to tutor undergraduate courses, a satisfying and worthwhile aside to day to day work. Through all of these avenues it is easy to get to know other people within the department too, and I’ve made some great friends here at Lancaster! "
Click here to view Erin’s personal profile page.
"My PhD life so far has been exciting as well as challenging.
I really enjoy the freedom my PhD programme grants me but at the same time it requires a high level of self-discipline. Compared to my earlier job as a researcher in an investment company, I particularly appreciate the fact that I now have a strong influence over the direction of my research.
Doing research in collaboration with Man Investments Limited gives me access to a rich source of real life data against which I can test my statistical models. It is also extremely helpful to listen to experts’ views and understand the underlying nature of the subject that I study, which quite often may not be obvious statistically.
As a PhD student I have the opportunity to become a tutor for undergraduate students, which naturally gives me lots of training on presentation and communication skills.
Having spoken to many PhD students from other universities, I found that Lancaster is one of the most supportive institutes in terms of providing opportunities for internal or external training and conferences. I always think it is very important for a research student to stay aware of the latest progress in their research area and my department has indeed given me various means of connection with the extreme value theory community or the statistics community in general."
Click here to view Ye’s personal profile page.
"My PhD at Lancaster University gives me a great opportunity to combine both aspects of my plan for a future career: high quality training and work experience.
It seems that problems arising in industry drive modern research. I am really motivated by my PhD topic because it leads to theory development through practical applications of a novel subject. Collaboration with AstraZeneca involves short visits to the enterprise and regular meetings with external and academic supervisors giving the opportunity for discussion and guidance about research and statistical analysis. This enhances my ability to communicate on advanced topics as well as developing new research ideas."
Click here to view Ioannis’s personal profile page.
"The best thing about my PhD when I started was that I really had time to just think about ideas.
I decided to do a PhD in extreme value theory as I found this a really interesting topic, with a good mix of both probability theory and statistical methods involved. The four years I spent in lectures and doing exams were valuable for building up a knowledge base, but now I appreciated being able to follow up the ideas that interested me most and consider them in more depth.
Although I enjoy the theoretical aspects of my subject, the collaboration with Shell adds a valuable extra dimension, as it offers the chance to see methods which you develop being transferred over to people who are really going to use them. It also offers great experience working with a wider variety of people than may be usual in other PhDs, and helps develop skills in explaining your work on a range of levels and in a variety of contexts. In addition, industrial collaborators are only too aware of the problems encountered in real situations and can provide helpful practical experience which suggests interesting research problems."
Click here to view Jenny’s personal profile page.
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