Keith Pigott

Subject Philosophy
Course PhD Global Ethics
Country Germany
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What is the degree of commitment in a Phd Philosophy full-time DL in terms of estimated weekly workload? In a Research Phd (which does not have teaching courses) there are schedules, homeworks and deadlines too? Is there a standard calculation of hours per week dedicated?

As I am only a part-time DL  Phd student I cannot completely answer your question. However, even as a part-tme DL there are deadlines to be agreed and kept. There is an obligation to meet on a regular basis (every six weeks) with my supervisor team. In these meeting we review progress and set targets. If the supervisors feel not sufficent progress is be ing made they are obliged to state this on the official record of this meeting. There is also a Progress Review Panel which formally reviews the progress made after x(1 years time). This panel comprises college faculty, and their approval is required to continue on the programme.  I went through this review process and although the panel expressed some concerns about my progress I was allowed to continue.

As for the necessary time commitment , If you are a fulll time DL then it must be the equivalent of full time employment – but again this is probably highly dependent on the individual researcher. As a part-time DL student I have struggled to find time  do my research alongside full time employment.

How do you interact with the DL community at large? What is the engagement level like and what recommendations do you have for students to make the most of it? How is the DL community linked to the on-campus community (if at all?)

Sections of he DL community has the opportunity to meet in persosn at the residentials. Outside of this, my experience is that contact between DL students is minimal.  Attempts by the UoB to foster communication between DL students have not really worked.  The responsibility for this is, of course, with the DL students themselves. There is no real link between the DL community and the on-campus community.  I think the DL student would need to make regular trips on-campus for various department events for there to be such a link. For example, there is a conference being hosted by the univesity end-May, which I will attend.

Was there a big transition from undergraduate to postgraduate study?

For me the big transition is from  participating in mainly taught programms of study to undertaking a research project.  I dont think the concluding dissertaion module on a taught MA has anything like the same feel as embarking on a PhD.

But I think it is important to keep in mind that when starting your PhD you yourself  are not the finished article.  As your project develops so do your own academic and organisational skills.  I would say in this respect   there is a clear continuation from previous courses of study.  The core attributes of curiosity, openness, willingness to learn and application are those which will bring success in both the undergraduate and postgraduate world.

Can you describe your journey from school to where you are now?

Well, it has become a long journey.  I left school over forty years ago aged sixteen. After several years earning my living in various ways , I returned to full-time education as an undergraduate student.  After graduating, I dabbled with a PhD and some undergraduate teaching, but was given a career opportunity I found I couldn’t refuse, working as a policy adviser in the Chief Executive’s Office of a Metropolitan City Council.  Some years later, chance took me to the United States and then  to Germany. I still live in Germany and now work in the IT division of a large financial company based in Munich. A few years ago I completed a distance learning MA in Philosophy.  My current programme of study is the follow-on.

Why did you choose the University of Birmingham?

I chose the University of Birmingham because the Global Ethics DL option is well constructed and mature. At the same time the University as a whole has a solid public reputation. But more than anything, I wa struck by the openeness and friendliness of the people I met  and talked to when first exploring the possibility of enrolling on the PhD programme.

What was your motivation for undertaking postgraduate study?

There is no straightforward answer to the question of what has motivated me to undertake postgraduate study. As I am close to retirement age, it definitely isn’t the opportunities for career advancement a postgraduate qualification might afford.  In fact my area of study, Global Ethics,  has no direct bearing on my professional work.  Many years ago, as an undergraduate, I always felt a little frustrated that time didn’t allow to explore a topic area as fully as I would like. This was also the case when,much later,I did a parttime MA by distance learning. So  one motivating factor for enrolling on a PhD programme is the opportunity to take any ideas I may have as far as they will go. Of course, as I am studying parttime and by distance learning, there are still significant restraints; and the discipline of assignment deadlines and supervisory meetings still provides a research framework which is at once both enabling and constraining. Second, as I mentioned, in a few years I am reaching retirement age and I see the PhD as one means of transitioning into a new phase of life. I would like to think I am never going to `retire´, just do other things.