Top 5 tips for international postgraduate students: make the most out of your time at university

I came to Sheffield from Malaysia in 2012 as an international student, studying LLB Law. I completed my undergraduate degree in 2015. I then decided after three years of employment (also here in Sheffield), that Sheffield is the city I would like to do my Masters too (that proves to you how much I love Sheffield!) In comparison to most international postgraduate students who only just started their first year in Sheffield, I’m in a better position as I have already known the city inside-out as well as university life.

A lot of international postgraduate students found it difficult to make the most out of their time at university as postgraduate course could be really intense, and usually by the time they start to get a grip on everything, it’s time for them to say goodbye. So as someone who has been here long enough, here are my top 5 tips to make the most out of your time at university:

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3 tips to have a more enjoyable PhD experience


Doing a PhD has been one of the best experiences of my life, and not only because of my research (Design of Soft Robotic Implants for Tissue Regeneration. Amazing, huh?). It is because the whole experience involves meeting new people, going new places and learning many different things. It took me one year to finally decide to start this new endeavour. What helped me to take the final decision? The support of my family and friends. Now that you have taken the decision of starting this new life project, I want to be that friend for you and let you know my top three tips for when you come to study your PhD at The University of Sheffield.

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My first conference

Towards the end of June I set off to my first ever conference as a PhD student. I am a 2nd year PhD student in Biomedical Sciences and have spent the last (nearly) 2 years researching all about Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), which is also known as Motor Neuron Disease. Therefore when I saw that the European Network to Cure ALS (ENCALS) conference was happening in June I thought I would sign up. Continue reading

A real slog: master the monotony

Two-and-a-half years ago, when I first decided to take on a PhD, there were a number of challenges that I was warned of by both students and supervisors – longevity, isolation and motivation over four years, to name just a few. But, now approaching the end of my third year, with the seemingly endless desert of time stretched out before me in which to actually “write the bloody thing”, I can now assuredly say that none of those things have posed the greatest test. Not even close. Continue reading

The Graduate Science Showcase – what’s it all about?

It seems only yesterday that I was diligently attending my PhD induction lectures. And now here I am in my third year, being prompted to prepare a poster for the Graduate Science Showcase. This is an annual event at the University of Sheffield that brings together PhD Research students from across the whole Faculty of Science.  Even though it is meant to be an informal celebration of our diverse research project, I feel the pressure to perform well. With cash prizes on offer for the best posters, the standard is sure to be red hot!

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The Faculty of Science Showcase: a valuable experience

Last Tuesday 17 April the Faculty of Science Showcase – or poster day as most people know it – took place. Showcase is an event in the Octagon where many PhD students from the Faculty of Science present a poster with their work. Everyone can go and take a look at the posters and if it is lucky enough, the author will be there to explain it and answer questions. The presenters are mostly second and third year PhD students, depending on the department. I, as a second year PhD student in the Department of Psychology, had to be there and this is my experience. Continue reading

Getting a PhD: Advice from someone who does not yet have a PhD

So you’ve finally made the decision. You’ve decided to shun the real world a little bit longer and take the first steps toward a career in academia. A PhD. Or at least that’s the goal. You’ve got to get accepted on to one first. As it often is with many things in life, getting a PhD is more complicated than it seems. Gone are the days of one simple UCAS application and instead is a rather more confusing application process. It can be to difficult to navigate all the different steps involved in applying to a PhD, and as someone who has not yet been accepted onto a PhD program, I have had a lot of experience with the various ways of applying, so I thought I’d give you a little guidance on how to make your way through the maze. Continue reading

The last hurdle: preparing for a viva

Sometime in the future – a time and place that I cannot envisage at present – I will finish my thesis. It will have taken 3 years and consist of 75,000 words, as a PhD in English Literature dictates, and will have taken a large part of my soul to complete I imagine. I will afterward roam around a world without the daily writing and research, where I am not sat at my desk and rediscover the outdoors. However, I must be wary not to fall into the habit of doing nothing or lose motivation just then as I’ll have one more thing to complete: the viva voce. Continue reading

Earning some pocket money whilst doing a PhD

Most people know that you don’t do a PhD for the money, but rather for the love of your subject. PhD students are generally paid a stipend though, a non-taxable sum of money to cover basic living costs. This can range in amount but it’s always nice to be able to earn a bit more money on the side to enable you to treat yourself every now and again. It varies widely from department to department, but especially in the Science departments, there are a great number of ways to earn a bit more money, alongside your studies, at the same time as enhancing your CV. Continue reading