Should I do a PhD in UK or Europe?

posted
23-Feb-18, 11:15
Avatar for Tulipflower1986
posted about 1 year ago
Hi there everybody,

I am English but moved to Portugal to do my Masters at the best university in Portugal. My Masters was unreal. I studied politics, and instead of having academics as teachers, we had different political figures, so, for example, I had the Minister of Finance as my economics teacher, or the head of the European Council as our teacher on European Politics etc.

Since graduating my University's reputation and connections has been helpful. I completed an internship at Portugal's Institute of National Defence and have since been accepted onto an internship at NATO in America. My classmates have gone on to the United Nations, European Central Bank, the Portugese government etc. etc. so employment doesn't seem to be a problem and my Portuguese is now fluent.

However, the methodology was terrible - there wasn't any. This made completing our 60,000 word thesis incredibly difficult. Now I want to do a PhD, but Portuguese courses don't include quantitative or qualitative research methods. I feel this would harm a future career either in research. Instead, we focus more on the topic itself and theory.

I think I need the training in methodology, but the PhDs here are 1/3 of the cost of a UK PhD. The aren't so respected, obviously, but I want to stay and get citizenship, remain in a multilingual environment. Also, at my uni I can do my PhD on a fast-track 2 year program, although nobody there has research interests matching mine.

Alternatively, there are UK PhDs via distance learning with a full year of methodology.

I have been trying to get the methodology elsewhere. For example, I'm taking a Khan Academy course in statistics and there are Coursera courses in quantitative and qualitative research methods. I've also found 3 summer schools abroad teaching methodology, but I'm worried supervisors here won't understand how to help me implement it. Would it really just be better to do the UK course? How important is that methodology training to overall PhD and career?
posted
28-Feb-18, 10:42
edited about 14 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 1 year ago
Quote From Tulipflower1986:


My Masters was unreal. I studied politics, and instead of having academics as teachers, we had different political figures, so, for example, I had the Minister of Finance as my economics teacher, or the head of the European Council as our teacher on European Politics etc.



Not sure whether this is a good or a bad thing!

I would say that a methodology training is the fundamental point of a PhD. A PhD is about teaching you to become a researcher. You can probably teach yourself this, as you mentioned, but I don't think this will be a replacement for being in an environment where you can learn from academics and other students. For this reason I wouldn't recommend doing a PhD by distance learning either. I think you need to separate what you want to do. Maybe stay for a while in Portugal and do the PhD at a later date. There's no rush.
posted
28-Feb-18, 18:23
Avatar for bewildered
posted about 1 year ago
The problem is I think that without the methods training you're not going to be able to publish anywhere decent in political science. I know from Portugal-based friends that currently quantity rather than quality of outlet is what matters but what would worry me, is whether that might change in future (as has happened in other European countries). There are though I think a few possible solutions - you could try to get a distance learning qualification in social science research methods eg https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/courses/taught/med/pg-modules/research-methods-(distance-learning).aspx and then back it up with ECPR summer schools in whatever specialist methods you need.
Another possibility (though Brexit might make this one problematic) would be to see if you could do a joint PhD with supervision from both a Uk uni and a Portuguese uni - there seem to b lots of French students doing this with KCL and get the methods from the UK side and content from the Portuguese.

But yes skipping methods is going to be very limiting career wise. Are you happy to stay in Portugal long-term too because a 2 year PhD programme as it's not Bologna compliant is going to raise eyebrows elsewhere too.

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