The overall ranking of Lancaster is good. The staff and the environment are supportive and welcoming. Most importantly, the prospects after graduating from Lancaster University are promising.
I was initially amazed by how the English Department allocates an office to every postgraduate student, which is rarely possible for an English Literature department in the UK! Also the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences provides joint and interdisciplinary courses available for all PhD students, which benefits my research as well as my social circle with students from different departments. PhD students are encouraged to deliver papers and attend conferences (domestic or international) which are crucial to enhance our CVs. The Faculty and the Department alike are generous in funding or partially subsidising students to cover the fees incurred when participating in a conference, which is a great assistance.
After completing my PhD I intend to teach at a University in Taiwan. Although we are not required to attend any courses, there are many training sessions to sign up for at Lancaster University, which establish or strengthen my teaching skills. In the English Department, we have Work in Progress running continuously throughout the academic year to develop my research, get feedback and gain experience in the line of my profession. There are also other resources and supporting groups to help establish my future career (involving teaching or other career plans) and researching skills.
Drawing from my previous experience studying in the UK institution, I prefer the environment of a small town instead of doing my research in a big city. There’s not too much distraction; however, the city is very functional despite being smaller than London, Manchester, or Edinburgh. You can find everything you need in the city centre; and can enjoy viewing the landscape, walking along the canal, or hiking the hills within walking distance. Local people are friendly and the city is never too dangerous or too boring (it has live bands, clubs, art events and shows).
I strongly advise international students to strike a balance between studying and having fun – enjoy the environment Lancaster has to offer and get support if the study load gets overwhelming. Being at Lancaster is also a good opportunity to make friends with students from all over the world.