Dr Alastair Watson is Assistant Professor at the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) and currently teaches Business Communications, Introduction to Management and Strategic Management at undergraduate and postgraduate level. He has a keen interest in Management, Marketing and Organisational Behaviour. Prior to joining UOWD Alastair was Assistant Professor in Management at Heriot-Watt University Dubai Campus, and Teaching Assistant during the completion of his PhD at their Edinburgh Campus. He also spent a number of years as an active operating manager within branded restaurants as well as hotels in the UK. Whilst completing his doctorate, he moved into training, quality and regional recruitment with a large branded restaurant operator in the UK. Dr Watson’s research interests are Staff Commitment & Motivation, Institutions, and Customer Service and Loyalty.


I’ve been wondering over the past three weeks how to move on with my posts.  The initial stages seem fairly obvious, and were fun to write about.  However, part of me wants to impart some of my experiences from the 33 months since I started to the submission of what is ultimately a really long coursework!  Oh, and did I mention, I did it in less than 3 years whilst still teaching and working?

What I’ve jotted down is a list of ten questions that I wish I had thought about more fully, or even considered at all.  Now, please remember (as mentioned before), I was full-time PhD (with teaching and marking commitments in my PhD contract), and part-time at work.  However, my employment contract was 27 hours per week (plus travel time), which is only a few hours short of what most people would consider a full-time contract (35 hour per week).

I’ll split this over 2 blogs, as there’s a fair amount of content I’d like to share.  I don’t want anyone getting bored…

Top 10 Question to ask yourself

Question 1: What’s the real reason for embarking on the PhD?

I’ve discussed why I did it previously.  I wanted to change what I do for a living, as part of a long term plan which included leaving the UK to work and live.  It can be a solitary life, and very frustrating at times, so if you’re going to do it for fun…I’d say THINK TWICE!!

Question 2: Have you decided to do it full-time or part-time?

Remember, most schools will offer a full-time PhD as a 3-year study (often with an additional 6 months to complete writing up).  Part-time is normally a 6-year term.  Are you going to be able to commit to those timescales, when you consider other commitments?  I had to…I needed to move into the next stage of my life, career, and earnings!!!

READ  What drove me to become a reclusive PhD student?

Question 3: What are your personal commitments?

Perhaps this should really be Question 1?  We all have a personal life, and need to consider those nearest and dearest to us.  Going back to study at any level will impact your time, finances, and most definitely your mood(s)!  If I look back to Question 1 above, then the term of my PhD was discussed at home, in order to fit in with the long-term plans, and what I want to do in the future, and where I want to do it.  Make sure that you plan at least a day at home, not working – stay sane, and don’t irritate those closes to you (too much)!

Question 4: What are your work commitments?

Are you going to stay at work full- or part-time?  You need to think what type of schedule you are going to have, and how often work can spill over into your home-life.  Quite often I would leave the house early, get home late, end up travelling up to 8 hours per day.  This will impact your ability to function as part of the family, and you will be knackered!  To complete the schedule(s) that I set myself, I would often wake up at 2am and work until 4am if I knew I was going to be at home the next day.  Time, dates, what I was doing, and where I was going to be, all had to be planned and diarised carefully.

Question 5: Have you taken a break from education/study?

If you’re like me, returning to be a student after 8 years was strange!  There was a part of me that felt out of place.  I was surrounded by 18-21 year olds, trying to engage them in learning, whilst working alongside people who had already achieved what I was setting out to do!  I’d gone through a psychological cleanse previously which had included selling all of my old text books (at a massive £££ loss), and burning my notes, etc.  Some of those things would have been useful to have kept.


Picture by Ethan Lofton under CC license.