By Ben Rogers |

For all of us starting a PhD in any subject can be a daunting experience. We all go through the usual challenges of questioning if there is enough material for our projects, or if we will get on with our prospective supervisors. For me; all these issues are pretty much the exact same if you start a PhD in January. Though it does seem unusual that you would start such a program mid-way through the academic year. It did seem like the logical step for me. It mainly came about as a result of my previous university’s slow marking scheme for my Masters and in the four month hiatus before I started I came to the conclusion that the real world is a dark and scary place.

Coming from Ireland as I did or anywhere else in the world to Scotland to start in January can be easy if you plan your moves correctly. From the time I got accepted into the program to the time I was scheduled to attend I had a little over a month to find accommodation and sort other essential matters such as a bank account, registering with a GP and getting a national insurance number. Luckily for a January start I was able to find accommodation quickly and therefore I would recommend to any student that they search through every accommodation site online as you will eventually find something that suits you. Though bear in mind if like me the majority of your sources are based in archives in Edinburgh city centre, then make sure that you get accommodation not too far from the archives in order to maximise your use of them. Take it from someone who previously spent five years on a bus commuting to Dublin to attend university. Prolonged use of public transport will drive you insane. All work and no play etc!

For issues such as a banking and registering with public services I would suggest to reaching in advance which documents you will need to bring with you. Also bear in mind to dress appropriately. You are preparing to start a professional academic career so therefore banks and public services will take you more seriously if you look professional to them.

Aside from these issues there are no major obstacles to prevent anyone from starting a PhD in January. You still have the same amount of academic and administrative work to do regardless of when you start. It’s all worth it in the end though. I hope.


(Photo: Christopher Chan, Flickr)