"Life in Surrey is full of opportunities. There’s a friendly, collaborative community awaiting you, preparing you for professional academic life and contributing towards your development as a researcher. Additionally, the University offers a wonderful campus experience"
Beyza Ucar is a PhD student in the Surrey Institute of Education. She is researching how to personalize online supports to facilitate learning of argumentation skills in the teacher education context.
Impressions of Surrey
I was impressed by the variety of specialisms and the projects done by the academics in my department. Unfortunately, I had to spend 1½ years online due to the pandemic therefore I have had less experience in real campus environment.
Life before Surrey
I hold an undergraduate degree and MA in Computer Education and Instructional Technologies from Hacettepe University in Turkey.
I want to be an academic therefore having a PhD would bring me closer to my goal. I was awarded a scholarship by the Republic of Turkey’s Ministry of National Education to pursue my PhD in the UK which motivated me to pursue my PhD.
Why did you choose Surrey?
The main reason I chose the University of Surrey was my supervisors, Marion Heron and Anesa Hosein. As a PhD student, good supervision is important. I read a paper by my supervisor, Marion Heron, and then I Googled her and reviewed her university profile. The other academics in the Surrey Institute of Education also appealed to me.
I was attracted by Surrey’s location and the campus environment as well. I felt a connection with University of Surrey logo as my previous university also has a deer logo, so I believe it brings me luck. It has been so, so far!
Passion for your subject
When I was in primary school – and at later education levels as well – I used to have so much difficulty with learning. In those days, I did not know I was dyslexic. I always dreamed to be a teacher and facilitate learning. This passion evolved towards developing educational programmes. After studying computer education and instructional design, I realised there was a significant gap in supporting students’ thinking skills. My studies motivated me to investigate the use of technology to enhance thinking skills.
Support from the University
As my study involves technology enhanced learning, I needed to design and develop an online learning environment for my PhD project. The University gave me some funding, and this allowed me to recruit a developer as well as money to incentivise my participants to take part in experiments and other activities relating to my PhD research.
I found the working environment in the department really supportive and, having a laptop and monitor provided by the University, these made it so helpful and easy to work in the office. I had access to a host of apps through the Surrey App Store which was incredibly useful.
I should also mention University’s Neurodiversity team directed and supported me in the diagnosis of my dyslexia and offered me specialised supports which is very beneficial for my studies.
My postgraduate research is self-directed but my supervisors always pose questions to help my critical thinking and to see any points I have missed. As a researcher, this has strengthened my confidence and the way I approach my project. It also helps me to develop a wider perspective as a researcher. My supervisors also encourage me to build a connection with other researchers and academia by offering me roles in conferences, introducing me to other researchers, and directing me to academics who specialise in areas with which I need help.
Other opportunities at Surrey
I am conducting marketing and communication projects in Surrey’s Doctoral College conference, which helps me to strength my collaboration with other PGRs and professionals at Surrey. I also work as a research assistant in a project at the University’s School of Veterinary Medicine. This strengthens my interview and research skills.
Studying for a PhD at Surrey
I am so happy to study in Surrey. I love the academic experience offered by Surrey Institute of Education. I love the nature that’s all around in the campus and the lake: it gives you the space to breath during the busy times of your work. I also enjoy the University’s location – it’s a big advantage – being – to be close to central places.
Best moments at Surrey
My best moment in Surrey was the time I came to campus for the first time after the pandemic lockdown. I must also add every day is the best moment for me now because I enjoy the experience my department gives me.
Advice for students thinking about postgraduate study
Life in Surrey is full of opportunities. There’s a friendly, collaborative community awaiting you, preparing you for professional academic life and contributing towards your development as a researcher. Additionally, the University offers a wonderful campus experience.