Title: Jason Moser - doctoral researcher in Applied Linguistics
How did you find your PhD study?
I've really enjoyed the research aspect of it. There were six modules and all six involved doing a research paper and the final thesis was a 12000 word research paper. So I really enjoyed the research aspect of it.
Did you get enough support?
Absolutely. In Japan they have a tutor system and I had I think probably one of the best tutors that was available at the time. He had a doctorate and had lots and lots of experience so his feedback was invaluable in my whole two and a half years of studying.
Would it have been better to study full-time?
No, actually, I think the part-time aspect of it and doing it distance learning is in some ways a lot better than doing it full-time because when you're doing a distance learning MA most of the time you're working as well so you get to actually do study and do research and a lot of that research takes places in your work environment. So it's a very nice combination, being able to continue working and doing research.
Did you have the opportunity to interact with other students?
Yes, in the case of Asia and in Korea and in Japan, Birmingham once a year has an in-house seminar where they come over, the two professors come over, and for about five days they hold seminars and when I look back at the MA, that was probably the highlight of the whole experience - getting a chance to talk to Birmingham professors as well as meeting all your fellow students and future colleagues.
How did you then decide to move on to study the PhD by distance learning?
After having done the MA, I'd felt like it was only half climbing the mountain. I developed I thought relatively good research skills and so I felt confident that if I did a PhD that I would do well enough or would be able to do one. Also, nowadays, as probably everybody knows, in order to get a decent full-time position in a university or even in a high school, having a PhD is very important. So there was that career aspect.
Why did you choose Birmingham?
Talking to a number of people I'd been told that the most important part of starting a PhD is your relationship with your supervisors. Having spent two and a half years studying at Birmingham, I'd got to know the professors quite well and I felt that I would be able to have a good relationship with whichever one of these supervisors I was assigned to. That was very important. Having known who the people were, who the professors were, and the help and support I'd got in the MA I felt it was a natural step to move on to a PhD.
What topic did you research for your PhD?
My research is in task-based learning, which the University of Birmingham is somewhat well-known for. What I researched recently for my doctorate was different task-planning variables and their effect on student production. In particular I looked at immediate task repetition and how it can improve latter performances.
What advice do you have for someone who is deciding whether to do a PhD?
I think it's important that you find a supervisor that you feel comfortable with and they feel comfortable with you. I think that from what people before me who had done a PhD had told me that and I would absolutely agree with that and say that's really important. I am working full-time, I was a full-time lecturer in a university while I was doing my PhD and I was doing it part-time and by distance. I always tell people that there's no such thing as a part-time PhD. It involves a lot of work and a lot of effort over essentially a long extended period of time. That's something that you have to prefer for but it's also something that you get used to. The first couple of years you're not used to that type of commitment and that type of work that you have to do but once you get into it you become familiar with it and you get used to it and it becomes part of your life.
Would you recommend Birmingham to others?
I regularly recommend to people who ask me about where should they study and so forth. Over the past eleven, twelve years that I've been studying at the University of Birmingham, I've gotten to meet a lot of the professors and academics and I just found them to be so professional and so supportive.