Not only is Sheffield ranked highly for its academic output, it’s also regarded as the friendliest department in Britain
Why did you choose to study in Sheffield?
I stumbled upon a book on lying and misleading by Sheffield Professor Jenny Saul. Reading-and enjoying-it led me to look into studying at Sheffield, and then I discovered that several department members work in areas I want to learn more about. Along with the department’s commitment to preparing its students well for either PhD study or scholarship in academia, this realisation that I could continue to study what I’m most excited about at a deeper level made Sheffield a terrific choice for me.
What made the University of Sheffield stand out for you?
The Sheffield philosophy department’s reputation sets it apart. Not only is it ranked highly for its academic output, but it’s also regarded as the friendliest department in Britain. Studying in a welcoming and supportive environment where I’ll learn how to hone my philosophical skills from talented professionals is exactly what I was hoping I would find.
What do you particularly enjoy about philosophy?
I love that philosophy enters into virtually every academic discipline there is and therefore gives me the chance to keep learning about other subjects. For example, studying philosophy of language also allows me to learn about linguistics so I have a more thorough understanding of language as a whole, which then allows me to think ever more deeply about how language creates meaning. This interdisciplinary aspect is thrilling.
How did the Department of Philosophy help support you through the whole process from application to settling in?
Even during the months before I came to Sheffield, the philosophy department sent out several communications (both via email and postal mail) providing me with information about the programme and encouraging me to reach out if I had any questions. A month before I was due to fly over, I received a letter with a schedule for Intro Week so I knew what to expect. Moving to a new country can be an intimidating experience, but the department’s communication made the process much less overwhelming. Since I’ve arrived here, everyone I’ve interacted with-the department’s administrative staff, the faculty members, the PhD students, and even my fellow MA students-has been friendly, welcoming, and supportive. If I have questions about anything, whether about an essay requirement or choosing an appropriate module, I could ask anyone and always get a helpful answer.
Moving to a new country can be an intimidating experience, but the department’s communication made the process much less overwhelming.
What are your top tips for any international students thinking about studying philosophy in Sheffield?
The entire university is incredibly supportive of international students, and the philosophy department is as well. Don’t be afraid to take advantages of the resources here: they’re here for our benefit. The department arranges English-language teaching courses for its international postgraduate students, so please utilise those if they can help you. And remember that philosophy is the most difficult subject there is, because it’s thinking on the deepest, most abstract levels and trying to communicate those thoughts. It’s objectively hard! If you’re having troubles with your readings or with writing your essays, whether or not English is your first language, don’t be afraid to ask questions or to seek advice. Anyone here, staff or student, will be more than happy to help however they can.
What is it like being a postgraduate in the department?
Being a philosophy postgraduate at Sheffield is enormously exciting because the department is so active, and postgraduate students get to be part of it. From weekly postgraduate seminars (where PhD students present their research) to weekly departmental seminars (where philosophers from various universities present their work) to parties and social events, there are so many opportunities to develop not only your thinking abilities but also relationships with the philosophers around you. It’s friendly and stimulating all in one.
What are your first impressions of studying and/or living in Sheffield so far?
The university buildings are relatively spread out throughout the city, so it can take a bit of time to adjust. My undergraduate institution had its buildings together on a small campus, so I had to get used to how integrated Sheffield’s campus and the city are. The proximity makes going to the city centre easier, especially if you live nearby. But Sheffield isn’t just buildings and concrete: there are some parks near the Students’ Union, so there are still some green spaces close to the central campus. And the Peak District is close via bus, so there are opportunities to get away from the city for a while.
What do you know now about Sheffield that you didn’t know before you came here?
I was a little apprehensive about moving to England. Even though it’s culturally similar to the United States (where I’m from), British culture still has different customs than those I’m used to. That said, virtually everyone I’ve met in Sheffield seems to have had experience talking with foreigners, and the cultural difference is not as intimidating as I feared it would be. It takes some adjusting, of course, but from my experience Sheffield is a very welcoming community, both inside and outside the university, so try not to be nervous!
What are your plans after your postgraduate study?
I’m considering pursuing my PhD in philosophy, and I haven’t decided whether I want to return to the United States or stay in Europe (though I think I’d rather do the latter!).
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