Alistair Mason

1st year, part-time PhD Student, Law

I have a masters in Professional Legal Practice from the College of Law (now University of Law) and a Law Degree from Lancaster (2006-9). I am also a qualified solicitor and I work full time up in Cumbria (Hence why I'm a part time PhD student!).

I'm doing my PhD because I enjoy a challenge and working towards something, after qualifying there isn't really much career progression for a few years, so I looked at other options. As part of my training I really enjoyed working with academy schools, I also really enjoy governance/regulatory areas of law (I currently specialise in Commercial and Governance), so a PhD seemed like the obvious solution.

I chose Lancaster because it’s one of the best law schools near to me, so I can commute down without much trouble as and when I need to. I already knew several of the tutors and had a really positive experience during my undergraduate degree, so I knew that the Law School would be a positive environment to work in. It’s also quite nice to keep going back to see how things have developed. It's an excellent facility, with a good atmosphere and it brings back warm memories of undergraduate study.

My PhD is fun overall, it's stressful at times but also really interesting and thought provoking. It has developed way beyond what I expected when I started, and I have barely even scratched the surface of where I could end up.

The Law School is really friendly, everyone says hello and people bob in and out of offices for chats which is really nice. There's normally a lot going on and there's always someone on hand to help if you can't find what you're looking for. Conversations are always really insightful and I find that my tutors will often stop someone walking past to weigh in on a discussion we're having, so it's really collaborative which is great.

My average day consists first and foremost of my job, so I usually spend 8-5 in the office, I then come home and have a couple of hours working on my PhD - which at the moment means reading. Then dinner, an hour or so to chill out and process before bed. Weekends are a bit different, I like to have a lie in, then I work on my PhD for an couple of hours, have a break for half an hour or so, then do a bit more work. I tend to go out for a while at lunch time for lunch, get out of my office space and relax. then it's back to the books for a few hours before getting ready for dinner and having an evening off.

I would recommend the Law School and Lancaster University, it was an amazing experience at undergraduate and the same is true of postgraduate. Lecturers are supportive, helpful and do everything they can to help you develop. Everyone is friendly, the campus is lively and the library is really well stocked. There is also a lot of investment, so things really are only getting better (as the sports centre and library demonstrate).

I worried when I was thinking about a PhD that I wouldn't be able to fit it around my job. My job does give me flexi-time so I can use that to leave early or have a day off to finish some writing, but lecturers are really flexible and I have most supervision meetings in the evenings anyway. Don't think you have to choose between a postgraduate course and a job, I have both and it's working well so far.