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Starting Out by Jillian Gordon

Student Ambassador Jillian Gordon shares her experience of postgraduate studies and offers some sound advice to others looking to continue on to a postgraduate education.

It is terrifying to think that I started my academic education at SRUC back in 2011! It really feels like yesterday. After starting at SRUC my eyes were opened to the world of Agricultural and Animal Science, I have remained in this field for 8 years now. Earlier this year I was lucky enough to receive a PhD Studentship from SRUC and Edinburgh University (Funded from the Economic and Social Research Council). This studentship came in the format of a 3+1. This means that I am to complete a master’s by Research before I continue onto my 3 years as a full PhD student. Jillian

I am currently in week 7 of the studentship working towards my master’s by research, and this is the first time in my academic studies that I have been focussing on humans rather than animals, thought there are many similarities.


Moving onto full time postgraduate studies has taken a bit of adjusting to. Previously I had been studying part time and working full time. Now I am lucky enough that I get to focus 100% on my education, this change has been fantastic, but I do have some tips for people who are looking to move into postgraduate education:

  1. Learn your acronyms! For some reason people in postgraduate education never call anything by its full name, be that a building, course or even a company everything is shortened and some of these can be very similar! For example, SPS is the School of Social and Political Studies, SPSS is a statistical software…
  2. Get digital! The amount of reading you need to-do is enough to make any student get sore eyes! You do not need to make your back sore by carrying it around all day. Try as much as you can to keep it digital but just remember to BACK IT UP!
  3. When working with stats always ask every question you can think of! Never assume anything when working with data, check, check and check again! You do not want to get to the end of your data analysis and then release you have forgotten about your missing data.
  4. Always check your emails, you may get 50 plus emails a day and most of them will be automatically generated and not particularly useful but be careful! Always read the subject carefully you may be about to delete an email that will have the key to your success in an assessment.

The most important thing I feel anyone who is considering postgraduate studies should hear is:

You do not have to be a genius to be a PhD student you do have to be diligent in your studies.

Every detail may be of some significance so every detail should be considered. As long as you can keep this in mind you will not have any problems.

Jillian G

Jillian with pigs Wilber and Nigel


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