Selen Kars-Unluoglu

Country of origin: Turkey

Lecturer, University of the West of England, Bristol

When I was considering which universities to apply to for a PhD degree I was primarily attracted by the international research reputation of Lancaster University Management School. The sustainable quality of the research environment, as evidenced by the RAE results and the top-ranking PhD programme in well-publicised university league tables, reassured me that a rich learning environment was awaiting me.

The Department of Management Learning and Leadership (DMLL, now called the Department of Leadership and Management) is home to accomplished faculty and distinguished leaders in the fields of organisational learning and knowledge management whom I can only profit from. I was very fortunate to be able to study with Mark Easterby-Smith in DMLL: he provides his students with independence and self-discipline which will turn out to be extremely valuable in their future research careers and guidance and support that will keep them inspired throughout their studies. 

Shortly after I had joined the department, the intellectual climate in which diversity is embraced began to make a real impression on me. There are many wonderful students who come from different cultural backgrounds and have taken different paths in life, which I think is very appealing to incoming students. I had colleagues who were studying the issues that I was intellectually interested in back in their home countries – Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Canada, Turkey and the UK among many others. The faculty’s diverse research interests and approaches further complemented this amazing richness and global awareness.

Life in Lancaster was good, too. What one expects from a city is very personal, but having lived all my life in big, metropolitan cities I found Lancaster a very welcoming, traditional British town to live in. Since it was my first time in the UK the cosy atmosphere in the town and the surrounding natural beauty was a particularly nice experience for me. Seeing familiar faces while shopping , dining or waiting for a bus made me really feel a part of a community.

Doing a PhD is a tough journey that tests your endurance and self-determination at several points. As teachers, supervisors and mentors, the faculty are very demanding but very supportive and well-intentioned. They are determined to bring out the best in their students through challenges but also, and more importantly, through collegiality and camaraderie.

The PhD programme also reflects this companionship. The biannual PhD workshops mean that you can connect with other PhD students who are going through the same challenges as you. The “Managing your PhD” seminars and the “Survival Skills” workshops which are part of the research training programme offered by LUMS are particularly inspiring and encouraging – and several times during my journey they provided me with the courage and strength I needed to keep stretching my limits.

No PhD programme in the world can remove the uncertainty, doubt, fear and risk of failing, but the social and intellectual environment at LUMS will definitely help you along the way.