Jenny Kingston is a final-year PhD student at Portsmouth University. Specialising in environmental analytical chemistry, she is working on a European Union funded study into sampling pesticides.
"I worked in industry for a few years before coming back to do a PhD as I wanted a challenge," she said. "Being left to my own devices came as a bit of a shock. But a PhD gives you an independence of thought that an undergraduate degree doesn't."
Although she is not required to teach, Ms Kingston, 32, supplements her income by taking demonstra-
tion classes for Pounds 8 per hour and was obliged to attend a one-day teacher train-ing course.
She said: "We are paid for any mark-
ing we do. The good thing is that we can do as much as we please."
First-year PhD students complete a postgraduate cert-
ificate in research methods, which covers experimental design and writing skills.
"We had to write a review of the literature in our subject area, which was helpful," she said. "It forced you to do all the neces-
sary reading right at the start."
Although she dreads the final write-up, Ms King-
ston is fairly con-
fident that she will submit her thesis on time. Intermediate assessments and presentations ensured that she kept to a schedule.
Regular feedback from her supervisor kept her on the right track.
"You really do pass or fail on who supervises your research."
Ms Kingston plans to return to industry but regards her PhD experience as invaluable.