A great culture of passing down advice from older to younger students and making friends across the programmes
How did this department help you in your career?
I'm pursuing an academic career in the Philosophy of Cognitive Science. Since finishing my PhD in Philosophy at the University of Sheffield in 2021, I have been a Teaching Associate in the department, and I am soon to start a postdoc at the Centre for Philosophical Psychology (University of Antwerp).
The department and my supervisors at Sheffield have offered a huge amount of support and guidance throughout my years here. For those wanting to pursue an academic career, the department puts on training sessions on various aspects such as how to prepare an academic CV, how to prepare for an interview, and how to apply for grants.
Because of the friendly environment in the department, it was also very easy to approach any member to ask about career advice. My primary supervisor provided the most support for me, advising me on which jobs were good to apply for, how to write a cover letter/CV, and organised mock interviews to prepare me for the real thing.
What was your experience as a PhD student in this department?
I thoroughly enjoyed being a PhD student in this department. I came here to do an MA in Cognitive Studies in 2016, and decided to stay to pursue my PhD too. From my first day here, I was struck by the open and friendly environment.
There is a lot of study space in the department, where MA students and PhD researchers can work together, and this makes for a great culture of passing down advice from older to younger students and making friends across the programmes.
A highlight of the week is the Postgraduate Seminar, where a PhD researcher presents their work in progress, followed by a Q&A and then a pub trip. I learned a lot about different research areas from the other PhD researchers and this greatly broadened my general knowledge of philosophy.
What advice would you share with prospective students?
Take all the opportunities that come your way! When I started my PhD, I thought doing a PhD was about writing a thesis. Though the thesis is obviously a big part of it, there is so much more around it.
My PhD was greatly enriched by presenting at conferences, being part of reading groups, organising conferences and workshops, and being part of the local MAP chapter. Doing your own research can be quite isolating and hard at times, so taking time to do research with others in various ways is a great way to combat this.
A note about a career in Philosophy?
A career in philosophy is hard but rewarding, and I would advise anyone to think twice before embarking on it. Teaching and research are both really stimulating activities, and the profession allows you to travel to international conferences, visit other universities, and collaborate with researchers across the globe.
But the job market is extremely competitive, and you are likely to put a lot of hours into grant proposals which may never see the light of day, and apply for 20+ jobs before you even get an interview – needless to say, this is very emotionally tough. My best advice is to be prepared. Try to build up a great CV during your PhD so that you can hit the ground running when you finish.
A global reputation
Sheffield is a research university with a global reputation for excellence. We're a member of the Russell Group: one of the 24 leading UK universities for research and teaching.