Jamie Buckland chose Reading for his PhD and received the full graduate experience: a vibrant community, comprehensive research training, and the opportunity to spread his wings.
"I chose to come to the University of Reading for my PhD because of the academics here. They were brilliant people for me to work with, and their research was relevant to my own which is extremely important. Reading was also one of the leading universities for the study of ethics, and offered more than enough expertise for my desired field of study."
A lively community
Jamie valued the thriving community at Reading:
"There was an excellent graduate community at Reading, which I consider to be one of the most important aspects of being a graduate student.
"All of us, both staff and students, would get together once a week for graduate activities, and then we would often go out to the pub together afterwards.
I also really liked the Graduate School for the social aspects of it. I'd often go there for lunch with people studying other subjects in the humanities, or in other departments, and it is a great place to meet people. They have a common area with coffee-making facilities, and I was given dedicated working space within the School. The library was also a brilliant place to work and you could easily meet up with other students when you needed a break."
Training and feedback
Jamie believes the time dedicated to graduate training at Reading really makes a difference:
"Once a week the Philosophy Department devoted a whole day to graduate activities: there would be a talk given by a graduate student in the morning, followed by a reading group which included academics, then in the afternoon, a member of staff would present their current work to us.
"The opportunity to present your own work and receive feedback from students and staff was extremely helpful, while the chance to listen to staff presenting on their current research enabled us to remain at the forefront of the discipline.
"In addition to the weekly departmental sessions, there was also more formal training run by the Graduate School. I was able to go to sessions on research techniques, and how to use the library efficiently. I received a lot of support and training in the initial stages of my PhD which was brilliant, and then they give you the space to write your own thesis - but the training and support is always there if you need it.
When I applied to Reading for my PhD, the lecturers here helped me with the whole application process and with my funding application to the Arts and Humanities Research Council. My supervisors continue to advise me now I have graduated and have been very supportive during the job application process over the last two years. This personal training and support has been immensely valuable to getting me to where I am now.
Jamie seized the chance to put his research skills and knowledge to the test during his studies at Reading:
"Myself and a few other graduates put on the biggest British Postgraduate Philosophy Association (BPPA) conference held at the time, setting the benchmark for future BPPA conferences.
"The aim of this annual conference, which you can apply to host at your university, is to enable PhD philosophy students to present and discuss their research with each other.
There were six of us running the three-day conference, and we were responsible for the organisation of the event and booking the speakers. The Department also supported us in terms of room bookings, catering and advice. We were very happy to secure a well-known philosopher, the late Derek Parfit, to speak at the conference, and we had attendees from many other universities, including abroad. It was a great opportunity for me to have this on my CV and to further build my network."
Aspirations for the future
Jamie is currently pursuing a career in academia:
"After graduating I worked part-time teaching in Reading's Philosophy Department, while also teaching A-level philosophy at a school in Oxford. Following this, I got a post-doc in Lisbon for six months, and ended up staying for two years! This role enabled me to carry on exploring the themes I'd looked at in my thesis at Reading. Working abroad was an excellent opportunity which I would thoroughly recommend to anyone. I have just started a two-year position in York, where I'll be mainly teaching undergraduate classes. After that who knows - I hope to secure a permanent academic position.
"I love that my job is to research philosophical theories, whilst grappling with problems, and teaching enthusiastic undergraduates! If I hadn't done my PhD at Reading I wouldn't be where I am today."