PhD Philosophy student Kathleen Murphy-Hollies says one of best things about studying at the University of Birmingham is the "opportunities and support available to research students in creating the kinds of activities and events which they want". We find out more about her experience as a researcher at the University.
Why did you choose to study a PhD in Philosophy?
I chose to study for a PhD in philosophy primarily because I missed the subject. After completing my masters I worked in an office for a couple of years but I would still think about the philosophical issues I studied and I wanted to come back to studying them more and more.
I wasn’t completely sure what career I wanted but pursuing philosophy further was definitely a possibility to me. So, studying for a PhD would enable me to find out if I could see myself doing that whilst still giving me valuable tools and experiences for other research and writing based jobs.
Why did you choose to undertake research at the University of Birmingham?
I was personally familiar with the University of Birmingham and had really enjoyed my time here. Since then, the campus had only got better. There was a shiny new library with lots of study space and useful technology. There was more beautiful green space on campus and new members of staff in the department. The philosophy department in particular had experts in the specific fields of philosophy that I am interested in and wanted to bring together; ethics and philosophy of psychology.
What are the best things about your course?
In my view one of the best things about the course are the opportunities and support available to research students in creating the kinds of activities and events which they want. For example, you can start a reading group, host a regular workshop, or even organise an entire conference. There are funds and experienced members of staff who are very kindly happy to help you with the organisation of those kinds of events. If there’s something you wish existed but doesn’t, you can start it yourself.
What is life like as a researcher at the University of Birmingham?
I really enjoy how much I am in charge of filling my own diary. I am free to choose to focus on writing a certain paper, sharing work with colleagues in the department, preparing for conferences, teaching, or gaining some other relevant experience. I also have the flexibility to choose to work on those things at times which suit me, which I really value. There is a lot of solitary work, in reading and writing philosophy, but then there are plenty of opportunities to engage in the research community. You can share your work and listen to the ideas of others, which helps break up the working weeks.
What support have you received during your PhD?
My supervisors have shown a keen interest in not only the areas of research I am passionate about but my personal goals too. There is a culture at Birmingham of sharing opportunities amongst each other, whether it be word-of-mouth or on social media platforms. This means that I come across more opportunities to apply for conferences, submit to special issues in journals, and gain valuable experience in teaching or the delivery of courses.
Outside of your research, what experience have you gained and how will it help you in the future?
Teaching philosophy to a range of different audiences and presenting my own work has improved my confidence and communication skills immensely. This is something that I know will help me in whatever further jobs I end up pursuing. Further, organising events which other people engage with has really boosted my self-esteem and the coordinated planning and collaboration required for them is also a highly transferable skill. I have found myself working with a vast and diverse range of people, at different stages in their career and from different disciplines. This is hugely valuable and the interpersonal skills I’ve developed will be important for many other roles.
Find out more studying for a PhD in Philosophy over on our course pages.