Emotions and the PhD

Please note that this course is finished for the moment, but you can still read the blog posts and undertake the activities. Please feel welcome to add your comments to the posts and join the ongoing conversation.


This Pomodoro Break course will focus on the emotional ups and downs commonly experienced during research degrees. The course draws on the ThesisWhisperer MOOC to understand why you might be responding in particular ways to the challenges of doing a research degree. The aim of the course is to support you in doing your best possible work by understanding how you might be feeling about your supervisor and your project and why this is so. We will work through a range of emotions from frustration and loneliness to curiosity and passion; by the end of the week, you’ll be better able to ride the highs and lows of a PhD experience.

By the end of this mini-course you will be able to:

  • Understand how and why you might be feeling as you do
  • Identify some strategies for managing these feelings
  • Have a stronger sense of well-being as you continue in your studies

When is it? The course will run over a week, 20-24 April 2020. Please register your interest, by 5pm Thursday 16 April.

How does it work? When you register, we’ll send you a link each day to a short blog post that provides some stimulating reading, links to relevant material, provocative questions and useful activities. All up, the reading and responding will take 20-30 minutes – just enough time to drink your coffee.

Day 1 Emotions and the PhD: Introduction and Confidence

Embarking on a PhD marks the beginning of a long journey that inevitably has a series of ups and downs. You are likely to experience a range of emotions that are both positive and negative; sometimes emotions that might feel negative can also act as a positive force. All of these feelings are likely to […]


Day 2 Emotions and the PhD: Frustration and Loneliness

These negative emotions might not sound like a fun focus for you today; we need to acknowledge them, but also consider ways of dealing with them. FRUSTRATION Frustration can appear in various forms during the PhD: research does not always run smoothly and the associated writing is also fraught with challenges. While some people love […]


Day 3 Emotions and the PhD: Fear and Curiosity

Today we think about fear and curiosity. Of course, fear can prevent progress, but it’s important to understand how curiosity can also become a stumbling block. Both can be managed, and we’ll look at strategies to help you do this. FEAR HDRs face a whole raft of fears during their studies, many of which are […]


Day 4 Emotions and the PhD: Boredom and Passion

Today we’ll look at boredom and passion. You can use both of these emotions to push your work forward and get where you want to be in your studies. BOREDOM When you start out on the PhD journey, it’s hard to imagine that you’ll encounter boredom along the path. But many HDRs go through periods of […]


Day 5 Emotions and the PhD: Love

This is our last post for the Emotions and the PhD Pomodoro Break mini-course. I want to leave you with a sense of what can sustain you through the emotional rollercoaster of doctoral studies. LOVE There’s the passion you feel for your particular topic that we explored yesterday, and then there’s the love you have […]