Our Postgraduate Open Day will take place on Wednesday 28 March from 3pm-7pm in our brand new INTO University of Stirling Building. Register now to secure your place.
Why I chose Stirling
My name is Chris, and I’m a Sport Psychology PhD student in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport; I’m doing research into the mechanisms underlying effective support exchanges within sport and how it influences athlete burnout and career transition experiences. When it came to choosing where to go for my Masters degree, Stirling was the only University in Scotland that offered a British Psychological Society accredited course – when I did a campus tour and had the chance of speaking with the course director, I didn’t want to look anywhere else! Through networking on my course and having a very good working relationship with my dissertation supervisor, my Masters dissertation later opened-up the opportunity for a PhD. The stunning campus environment, on-hand sports facilities, close connections with sport industry, and supportive network offered by the Faculty meant I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity! More importantly though, my supervisory team were international experts in my area of research – and to hit the nail on the head even further, the other Faculty staff (who you inevitably end up getting to know and occasionally work with) also had overlapping areas of interest and expertise. Being surrounded by this ‘pocket’ of specialists has allowed me to become more expert in my topic area, while also developing competence in the field more broadly.
Application and Transition Process
I didn’t experience any obstacles here (for either my Masters or PhD) – the speed of administrative turnaround meant there was little waiting time. Coming from a bigger university where I did my undergraduate degree, I felt like I received a lot of on-hand and ‘individualised’ support and attention while transitioning to Stirling; someone was always on hand to pick up the phone or put me in touch with someone if I needed guidance. When writing my PhD proposal, my prospective supervisor was also very keen on making the project happen, and accordingly was very supportive during the lead-up to meet with me and to support me in writing a strong application.
When I started the Masters and PhD I was always thinking that it would set me up to do applied sport psychology consultancy – which it has; I am now practicing as a trainee sport and exercise psychologist alongside my research! But it has also opened-up my eyes to many other possibilities and career opportunities. By networking with the other academics in the Faculty and using the sport industry contacts right here on campus, it has allowed me to gain experience in teaching, presenting at academic conferences, and getting involved in a project with Scottish Rugby, to name a few! As time goes on I’ve realised that the PhD is not just about turning me into an academic – it is training me to think more adaptively, network, and to be an excellent problem solver, which are highly transferable skills.
Fees and Funding
Although I started off self-funded for the first few months in my PhD, I was able to get part-time jobs right here on campus (teaching, invigilating exams, etc.), and earn some money through my sport psychology consultancy. After I started networking and utilising support from my supervisory team (that’s key, using the expertise that are on hand to help you!), we managed to approach some funders who were keen to collaborate and part-fund the PhD. With that being said, there are options out there, and if you don’t rush into things and do your homework, you’ll be amazed at what funding opportunities you can make happen for you.
Message to prospective open-day attendees
I would stress that you come to our beautiful campus with an open mind (and your camera!), and think about where the opportunities can take you. I never dreamt that bumping into people from the sport industry who work and study here at the university would lead to some of the projects I’m working on right now! Your postgrad experience will be very different to your undergrad experience, but you will get so much out of it (during and after your course) if you’re willing to be stretch yourself creatively and make those opportunities happen.
Chris Hartley is currently studying for his PhD in Sport Psychology at the University of Stirling