I’ve previously shared how the PhD life comes with flexibility and control over your time – you get to decide how to plan your days to achieve your deliverables. Currently, this flexibility extends to your place of work, because of the exceptional circumstances brought on by the pandemic. However, with the LSE campus re-opening its doors to students, with a planned hybrid model, this flexibility may lessen, and PhD students may be asked to return and attend campus as per the Regulations for Research degrees of the LSE (see section “Studying away from School”).
I am personally quite excited to return to campus, as I enjoy the separation between my home and my place of work. While it is true that working on campus requires a bit more daily planning (as you’ll understand if you read on), I found this con offset by the benefit of seeing your PhD colleagues and friends in person. Studying a PhD can be isolating at times – so the sharing of thoughts, banter, (and snacks) with your colleagues in the programme makes the overall journey a much more pleasant ride.
You’ve read what my typical PhD day looks like working from home; here is what a weekday in my PhD life looks like working on campus:
My alarm rings. I awaken, make my bed, and put the kettle on to make my morning coffee. I get dressed and have a chat with my roommate as I eat a light breakfast.
Today I’ve decided to walk to school– it takes 30 minutes as opposed to 15 minutes by bike, but the weather is nice out, so I’ll get a dose of Vitamin D on the way. I pack my bag and head out the door. I usually sip my coffee on the way, thanks to the cool KeepCup given to me by the PhD Academy upon my registration. I sometimes listen to music or the BBC Global News podcast to catch up on some world news.
I arrive on campus, and head to the PhD study space of Cowdray House, where the Department of Health Policy is based. Each Department offers a dedicated study-space for its PhD students, with a printer, desktop computers, and lockers. I say hi to fellow PhDs in the room, put my lunchbox in our shared fridge, and catch up on some emails and Teams messages.
I log out of Teams and emails to enable my focus. I get started on the PhD task I’ve set myself for the day (for instance, cleaning a dataset I will use for my analysis).
It’s time for the weekly PhD seminar. I head to Kingsway and take my seat in the classroom. In today’s seminar, we are critically evaluating published journal articles and debating on their methods, findings, and wider implications.
The seminar ends. I head to the PhD Academy with the other PhD students to grab lunch.
I return to the study room. I decide to spend a bit of time on an extra-curricular of mine – I log into the Journal of Health Policy and Economics (JOHPEC) portal and assign some submissions to Editors and Peer-reviewers as part of my Deputy Editor in Chief role.
My focus wanes – time for a short pause. I go for a brisk walk around Lincoln Inn’s field with a fellow PhD, whose also in need of a break.
I return to my PhD task.
A PhD colleague pops her head through the door. “I’ve been coding all day and my brain is fried. Want to grab a drink in about 30 minutes?”. I happily agree and quickly finish up the task I’ve set myself for the day.
We head to the Georges IV, our usual spot for after-research drinks. It’s conveniently located in front of Cowdray House!
I’m back home, have dinner and catch up with my roommate. We chat about our hurdles of the day. I usually make extra portions which I pack in a lunchbox for tomorrow’s lunch.
I organise myself for the upcoming days. What I do afterwards varies – I watch Netflix, do PhD work (etc.), or just get to bed early.
While the work does not vary whether you’re working from home or campus, I find my life on campus a bit livelier than working from home. I hope this gave you an idea of what you can expect a day as a PhD student at LSE to look like, keeping in mind that your schedule may look completely different from mine upon the start of your PhD journey.
This post was written in early September 2021. See here for the latest UK government guidance on coronavirus. Find out more on LSE’s response to coronavirus, including teaching and learning plans for 2021/22 here.
I agree— a scholarly work space surrounded by equally motivated, intellectual peers does wonders in boosting bursts of rigorous output!