We use cookies on this site. By browsing our site you agree to our use of cookies. Close this message Find out more

More in this section Postgraduate

Student testimonials - PhD

The School of Law has the facilities to supervise postgraduate research in a range of areas. Our PhD programme is very successful and our alumni have gone on to undertake careers in a variety of roles, particularly in the healthcare and education sectors. Our testimonials below account for the ongoing success of the programme. 

Dr Sharon Fleming, Head, Research in Nursing, Royal Brompton & Harefield

DrSharonFlemingI started studying for my PhD in Sociology at RHUL in October 2004 and was awarded my PhD in March 2010. The experience of studying at PhD level at RHUL was very positive. My faculty had lecturers and professors who were experts in their field. There were many stimulating seminars and presentations during the time of my study. Students were also encouraged to present their work which helped to hone my presentation skills. Debate from peers and academic staff also aided reflection on my work. I was encouraged and supported to present my work at conferences and had excellent experiences of presenting at and attending four conferences during my PhD. I also attended the PhD support groups where we had many discussions about our work. I also had access to the very good library and as my subject was in a specialist area, the faculty also arranged access to workshops in other Universities.

My supervisors were excellent. Their expertise in Medical Sociology and in childhood asthma which was the focus of my study meant I felt supported through the many difficult stages of learning new skills and management of the work required at PhD level. Their support was also invaluable when family illness interrupted my studies. Good advice from my supervisors and the support of the administrative team helped mitigate the stress caused from my studies being delayed. The PhD journey is a challenging experience but for me it was made easier by the excellent support and encouragement I received from my department and my supervisors.

Dr Chaitali Das, Lecturer, Queen's University, Belfast

DrChaitaliDas,Lecturer,QueensUniversity,BelfastI started my PhD at RHUL in Sept 2004 and successfully defended my thesis in March 2009. My experience of studying at RHUL was extremely positive. The department was extremely supportive in creating a suitable atmosphere for me to carry out my research by providing me access to a good infrastructure and mechanisms of support from staff and students.  My faculty also helped me create links with other administrative departments in the university where I was later able to get a part time administrative position to support myself. I also had access to excellent facilities such as the careers centre, a very good library on campus as well as easy access to libraries in London.

My supervisor was brilliant. She was sensitive to my needs as an international student and supported me to be able to live and study well at RHUL. She also encouraged and supported me to attend various conferences, apply for grants and subsequently plan my future after my research.

Doing a PhD away from home was challenging in many ways that I had not previously anticipated. However, I received support and encouragement from the University, my department and particularly my supervisor which was  crucial in my completing my programme of study.

Professor Karen Lowton, Senior Lecturer, King's College London

KarenLowton I left school to train as a nurse and was working as a research sister in 1996 when an advert caught my eye for an ESRC CASE studentship in the Department of Social and Political Science at Royal Holloway, with Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust.  I had juggled both my undergraduate and masters degrees with having young children and working, so applying for the full-time studentship and subsequently resigning from the NHS was a huge decision to make, and it literally changed my life.

As an ESRC CASE student, I had both an academic and workplace supervisor; despite my thinking at the time that my academic supervisor was far too tough on me, the quality of supervision I received was outstanding.  I now value greatly the attention to thought and detail that my supervisor ingrained in me during this time.  Similarly, Royal Holloway's provision for ESRC students in terms of staff expertise, interaction with other students, desk space, library stock and conference attendance all enabled my research to take a strong academic shape.


I am now a Senior Lecturer at King’s College London, having worked as a research fellow and lecturer at King’s since being awarded my PhD in 2001. My doctoral training gave me an excellent grounding in conducting sociological research and has enabled me to apply for and be awarded research council funding of my own, and to supervise PhD students, hopefully to a standard as high as those at Royal Holloway.  

Dr Karen Ballard, Senior Lecturer in Women's Health, University of Surrey

KarenBallardUndertaking both a Masters degree and a PhD in medical sociology at Royal Holl oway meant that I spent four enjoyable and very full years developing the intellectual skills invaluable f     or my academic career. The process of growth and development was certainly not always obvious during my study years and I spent many moments plagued with self-doubt over my ability to reach the necessary cognitive level. Armed with enormous determination, an ability to work hard and importantly, invaluable encouragement and support from staff and fellow doctorate students, I produced a thesis that I remain extremely proud of.  Although I completed my PhD over a decade ago, I continue to benefit from th e skills that emerged. My thesis focused on women’s experiences of the menopause and their use of hormone replacement therapy and through different research approaches, I collected valuable data that allowed me to examine and contribute to theories of medicalisation and ageing.


Having published over fifty papers in academic journals, I am now trying my hand at creative writing. I am really unsure whether I have the talent needed to write a successful novel but one important lesson I learnt from doing a PhD is that with a great deal of determination and a little bit of self-belief, many things become possible and the journey is generally very exciting and extremely enjoyable.

Dr Rick Hood, Senior Lecturer, Kingston University

DrRickHoodIn 2005-07 I studied for an MSc in Social Work at Royal Holloway, and after qualifying went on to work for a local authority child protection team. A couple of years later I happened to see an email advertising a number of PhD scholarships funded by the Southwest London Academic Network (SWan). Suddenly I knew that was what I wanted to do! I contacted my MSc course director, who was very helpful and supportive, and encouraged me to make an application. Then I was fortunate enough to make it through the selection interview. Along with my lead supervisor, I was also provided with two other supervising academics linked to SWan.  They were all brilliant. My lead supervisor was there right from the start and stayed with me through every stage of the process, culminating in the nerve-shredding   experience that is the PhD Viva. I was awarded my degree on 1st April 2013, which I’m sure was not deliberate on the part of the college. At the time, of course, I was just relieved it was over, b  ut I now look back on those three years of full-time study with some nostalgia.


Doing a PhD was transformative in many ways. My supervisors encouraged me to present at conferences and publish papers, and gave me opportunities to teach and contribute to other research projects. In the end, it has completely changed my career path. While continuing to work part-time as a social worker, I also worked as a teaching fellow at Royal Holloway, and subsequently at Kingston University.  I now have a full-time post as a Senior Lecturer at Kingston University. My doctoral studies were an invaluable apprenticeship in conducting good quality research and this experience has enabled me to apply for grants and manage other research projects since. I can only recommend the department, and the kindness and support of my supervisors.

Dr Jenny Tonsing, National University of Singapore



Doing my PhD study at Royal Holloway University of London (RHUL) has given me exposure to an outstanding academic experience and research environment which has helped expand my intellectual inquiry. The institutional support and the resources made available for doctoral students for research were excellent. RHUL PhD program is supportive yet challenging. I never stopped working: reading, thinking and writing. I was fortunate to have a committed and dedicated supervisor. She was exceptional from day one of my doctoral study. She was sensitive to my needs, intuitive, supportive and a superb mentor. My supervisor's high expectation, confidence in me, and enthusiasm for my research project were the driving force to give my best and to be the best that I can be.












Comment on this page

Did you find the information you were looking for? Is there a broken link or content that needs updating? Let us know so we can improve the page.

Note: If you need further information or have a question that cannot be satisfied by this page, please call our switchboard on +44 (0)1784 434455.

This window will close when you submit your comment.

Add Your Feedback