Returning to University and the Exhilarating Task of Research

First comes Induction… Google was founded in the year that I first matriculated at Cambridge as an undergraduate.  We were looking forward to the Millennium, still a couple of years into the future.  When I arrived, my stereo was my only electronic equipment (I bought my first mobile phone after I’d graduated); and induction meant heading to the College bar to find second- and third-years to assure you that you didn’t need to go to all your lectures (you don’t).  Homerton, where I am now, wasn’t yet a Cambridge College. Arriving as a grad student has been an entirely different…

Staying Afloat: Managing the Second Year of a PhD While Trying to Win a Boat Race

In the last year, I’ve been trying to juggle my role as President of the Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club (CUWBC) with the second year of my PhD, in which I’m researching the role that parental input plays in the development of cognitive and non-cognitive skills in primary school children. I didn’t plan to spend the past year simultaneously managing the two tasks, but following a disappointing loss in the 2016 Boat Race, I decided that I wanted to do everything in my power to put an end to Cambridge’s 5-year losing streak. I was encouraged by teammates to run…

Tips and Tricks for PhD Students: The #PhDlifehack

This week a new cohort of PhD students is about to embark on their doctoral journeys in Cambridge. Although this is surely an exciting time, filled with many hopes and expectations, starting a PhD can also feel scary and overwhelming – How should you organise your work? Are there any tools or strategies that could be particularly helpful in staying on top of things? And how do you build good professional relationships during the PhD? With some of these questions in mind, we asked current PhD students and academics for advice and encouraged them to share their best #PhDlifehack with us…

Making the Most of Your Masters Programme at Cambridge

Hi, my name is Derk and I am a Malaysian PhD student at the Faculty of Education (EdFac), University of Cambridge. If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you are about to matriculate for the Master in Philosophy (MPhil)  programme at our Faculty. I was in your shoes two years ago, and that’s why I was asked to write this blogpost. I am sure you are very excited to be in Cambridge, and, knowing that the MPhil degree is really very short (about 10 months), you must be keen to find your feet quickly and make the most out of your limited…

My #PhDshelfie: Julie

As the intellectual cousin of the word selfie, a shelfie is a photograph of someone’s bookshelf. In the next few months, the FERSA blog will occasionally feature shelfies taken by graduate students in the Faculty of Education, accompanied by reflections about some of their favourite books. The first person to share a shelfie is PhD student Julie Blake.  I’ve just moved house and right now books are less a matter of shelfies and more a matter of Asda carrier bags stuffed in cupboards. But I have organized one bookcase of PhD essentials and that’s what you can see here. The top…

Planting Seeds, Nurturing Roots, and Growing Sideways: Transitioning from a Cambridge PhD to a Prairie Postdoc

On a hot June day in 2013, my friend Clementine walked with me through the infamous red doors of Cambridge’s Board of Graduate Studies to hand over my PhD thesis. While this celebratory photo is saved on my computer as “happy day,” I can still taste my anxiety. Having just dedicated three years of my life to a single project, what would come next? Beyond the frame of this photo are bags stored in various friends’ living rooms. I was days away from leaving a place where my roots grew deep. In this moment, I recall wondering where next? Would anywhere…

Reflections on a Successful Viva Voce

In this short blog post I will share general tips on preparation for the final PhD defense, as well as ideas on publishing en route to the PhD. I believe these tips contributed to my result of ultimately passing without corrections. I will not share the specific line of questioning that arose in the defense, since this is not particularly important, other than to indicate that it focused largely on philosophical debates around theoretical and methodological choices centered on, for example, Bourdieu, diffraction, post-humanism and new materialisms. From my post-viva standpoint it now seems to me that the focus was…