Here's a handy list of student FAQs based on feedback as to what has worked for other students and from research into good practice.
How much time should I spend on my Research Degree Programme each week?
You should treat your PhD as a full-time job. It’s important that you set aside time away from your PhD and set a routine, like taking weekends off. Rest is essential to recharge your batteries and inspiration can come when we remove ourselves from the intensity of work.
- What if I feel isolated?
When you are undertaking your PhD, you will not be attending classes and interacting with students in the same way as you did for an undergraduate or Master’s degree.
There are, however, plenty of opportunities to meet new people at Queen’s:
- The Graduate School is a wonderful resource for this as they have lots of events on offer
- You could also enroll for a wide range of half day or full day courses through MyFuture. This provides a great opportunity to talk to other students and make friends whilst gaining new knowledge or expertise on the courses provided
- The Students’ Union offers over 200 Clubs & Societies, ranging from Academic, Cultural, Sporting and Gaming. Joining one gives you a chance to meet new friends have lots of fun and get a bit of a break from your Uni work
- What if I become overwhelmed?
Throughout your academic journey it is natural to experience ups and downs.
It’s recommended that you try to achieve a balance, by working regularly and consistently while getting rest too.
Students identified that it is important to enjoy other activities, these could be small things like: taking up a hobby; volunteering for a charitable cause; exercising; or reading a book (unrelated to your subject!).
If things get too much, do reach out to either your supervisor, other research students, friends, family or to one of the many support services at Queen’s including:
- Advice SU - Independent of the University, Advice SU is the Students’ Union’s free and confidential service, which offers a wide range of help and support on areas such as: academic, money, funding, housing, health and wellbeing.
- QUB Student Wellbeing Team – Offers a range of support services such as a remote drop in service, counselling, consultations and coaching, education and awareness-raising, safe and healthy relationships advice and self-help material. The advice they can provide can cover the likes of: academic, disability, emergency/incident, financial, mental health, substance usage/addiction or sexual misconduct, bullying, harassment or hate crime.
- Inspire Students - Inspire Student Wellbeing is your independent, confidential student counselling service, available to all students at Queen’s.
- What it I have Extenuating Circumstances?
If your circumstances change which could negatively impact your studies, you should raise this at the earliest occurrence with your supervisor and PG advisor of studies.
- What if I need to take Leave/Vacation or Temporary Withdrawal?
Familiarise yourself with the procedures for taking leave/vacation or temporary withdrawal from studies.
What should I achieve every week/month and how do I measure achievement?
This really differs depending on the individual student and the research project but it’s always important to have a plan in place that you can work towards.
- Where should I study?
For some, choosing to study in the same place daily creates a habit which suits the flow of thought. Others thrive in selecting a variety of different place to study.
It may take you some time to adapt and settle into a routine that works for you.
Useful study spaces at Queen’s include: The Graduate School, designated office space and the McClay Library.
- What are the yearly goals for progression?
Familiarise yourself with the Study Regulations for Research Progression.
- What should I expect from my supervisor? What can I ask them?
The relationship with your supervisor is a professional one. It’s important that you respect their expertise and the extremely busy schedules that they have throughout the academic year.
- What should I say if I am unsure about my Supervisor’s guidance?
Academics want you to succeed with the PhD.
If you are having communication problems, they may not realise and you could consider the following:
- Ask your supervisor to explain in non-academic language
- Ask your primary supervisor if the issue you are having is better placed with your second supervisor or vice versa as everyone has different expertise
- Ask them to point out what you are doing well
To thank your supervisors for their work in helping and supporting you through your academic journey!