Living some distance from your PhD uni?


Hi all,

Considering doing a PhD in criminology after my MA and have already sounded out a university and supervisor with very positive feedback and been asked to apply.

Not knowing much about how the day to day mechanics of a PhD actually works I was wondering if it's workable to live approx 1 hour and 30 minutes from university and still undertake a successful PhD?

For those already doing a PhD - are you 'in' university every day? is it possible to 'work from home' (ie by researching using the university's online journal search database)?

Would it be possible to utliise the 'sconul' system and use more local university libraries to research at rather than physically going into uni every day?


Hi Hope,

I moved nearly 200 miles away from my uni part way through my PhD, and had a three hour journey there. My family live near my uni so I had somewhere to stay and used to go up regularly at first for teaching and to see my supervisor. But for the last couple of years I only went up occasionally and managed to work from home quite easily. I think this is more possible in humanities/arts where it is easier to work remotely.
Sconul access is great and if you have another uni library near you you can take advantage of that. I would say if you think it is the right uni and supervisor then this is more important than how far away you live and an hour and a half isn't that far really.


Thanks Pam, much appreciated :)

Whilsr doing the PhD, how often was it necessary to go 'in' to uni per week? per month?

Did you have to attend academic conferences at uni etc etc?

Thanks again


It's definitely possible - I live about 2000km away. ;-) The first few months I spent on campus though - lots of research seminars and meetings at the beginning. I do miss not being on campus but it is possible not to go very often if your supervisor is in agreement.


It is possible!

I live in I am quite far way from my uni....


I used to live next to campus. I now live 1.5 hour away from campus and I go to campus twice a month, to get books from the library. I cannot afford going there every day, but again my PhD is in the humanities. I have found, however, that I am missing out in certain things. For instance, it was only once I was hired as a PGTA (and that was when I lived next to campus) - could it be that I am way from campus? I don't know. I am moving 3.5 hours away from campus soon, for my husband's new job, and I am feeling terrified - but I will sort something out with the local university, so that I can use their library.

Avatar for Batfink27

I'm about an hour and a quarter from my university, and I agree with what previous people have said. It's perfectly possible, assuming you're not doing a subject where you need to be in a lab every day or something. For most of my PhD I spent two days a week on campus, though now I'm writing up that's dropped down to once a week or once a fortnight, depending on when I have meetings etc. Early on it's good to be on campus more often to get to know the department and, more importantly, for the department to get to know you. I know I've missed out on a few things by not being there more regularly - the social events, the extra little bits of work, some informal chats that might have sent me in different directions with my research. But not much, and on balance I don't think it's been difficult at all. Online access to journals has made it all so easy.


I did my PhD at a uni about an hour/hour and a half away from me (depending on traffic!). For me this was too far to travel every day, so to start with I just went in to uni once a week or so. Gradually, as I got more confident in my research, this dwindled away until I barely went in at all, and only saw my supervisors once or twice in the last year or so. We kept in touch via email and phone, and this was plenty for me. It does depend very much on how you like to work and the project itself; some people like to see their supervisors face to face more often, and for some projects it might be necessary. However, I am happy to work alone most of the time, only asking for help if I get stuck. Others prefer to be in the office environment and to have the opportunity to mix with other students.

I did feel that I missed out on the more social aspects - I didn't attend the weekly meetings within the department, or get to see the other PhDs present their work at the monthly meeting. I also felt that occasionally my supervisors forgot about me and prioritised the other students over me to some extent, which is hardly surprising as the other students could see them every day and be much more 'visible'. I was a bit older than the other students so wasn't interested in living the 'student lifestyle' so much anymore, so from that point of view I didn't feel that I was missing out on friendships or anything like that.

A lot depends also on the relationship you develop with your supervisor. If you aren't going to attend uni regularly, then I think it is important to establish early on that you can be trusted to get on with things. I sent very regular progress updates at the beginning to show that I was motivated and working hard. I also made a real effort to attend uni whenever they asked me to, such as if there was a specific meeting they really thought I should go to, to prove I was taking an interest in the department as a whole.