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What studying is like at Durham University

Category: Higher Education, Cultural Diversity, Inclusive Environment, Education Programme, Durham University, Education institution


Dr Meechai Wongdaeng (School of Education)

Can you share a particular highlight from your time studying at the School of Education?

In my view, the School of Education has a very strong research culture. Being in such an environment helps to shape the research focus and interest of PGR students.

At the same time, continual research seminars allow the PGR students as well as the academic staff to be exposed to various research topics and approaches outside their specialism. That promotes interdisciplinary understanding and collaboration required for addressing current real-world challenges.   

What do you think makes Durham University / the School of Education unique?  

Apart from its outstanding support for students such as book request service, research grants and bursary, special-priced bus tickets across the county, what makes Durham University unique is its location which is alongside the world heritage sites such as Durham Cathedral and Durham Castle. Such a combination gives Durham students unique and rewarding experiences.   

What advice would you give to anyone who’s considering studying a doctoral degree at Durham?  

Durham University has excellent support for research students. Besides, its safe and peaceful environment and its scenic vibes are very advantageous for maintaining the progress of a doctoral study.   

If you could use only three words to describe your research area, what would these be? 

Learner agency, evidence-based pedagogy, policy evaluation.

Can you remember a particularly challenging milestone during your postgraduate research journey? How did you overcome this? 

A doctoral degree is a long journey which can be exhaustive at times. With the unexpected consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, this journey can become even more challenging.

To me, one of the most serious challenges during the journey is maintaining motivation and discipline to keep the research going because there can be so many reasons or obstacles to put you off and make you feel discouraged. I experienced numerous difficulties and challenges.

I think two main strategies which had helped me overcome those challenges were first, maintaining communication with the supervisor. Setting a rough schedule for reporting progress or at least sharing some stories with the supervisor could drive me to make continual little progress over time.

Secondly, giving myself some rest and rewards can be productive. At times, some processes in the thesis can be difficult or overwhelming. Giving myself some time to rest and relax and promising to myself to resume working after such refreshments averted me from being burnt-out.

Celebrating little progress or accomplishments such as finishing a chapter or transcribing interviews could keep me feel motivated to move forward. 

What are your future career plans

I was working at a university in Thailand before I started my EdD at Durham. I will join the academia at this university again upon my graduation. That would be a great chance for me to develop further as an educator and a researcher. 

Can you recommend an academic book/article that has had a significant impact on you as a researcher? Why have you chosen this? 

It’s really hard to choose one but I would recommend The New Meaning of Educational Change by Michael Fullan. I think this book is very meaningful to people working in the education sector.

It introduces several interesting and practical ideas for educational change from different perspectives such as for teachers, students, administrators, parents and the community. With the awareness of these different stakeholders in mind, research studies will not be too dry and dull with only a focus on evidence or theory but they can make more sense to the real stakeholders and can make real-world impacts. 

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself that we are unlikely to know. 

I have worked in the restive southern area of Thailand which has suffered from the violent conflicts caused by many factors. This is why I am personally against all forms of violence and have tried to be at least a modest promoter of peace and peaceful coexistence among people with different backgrounds and beliefs. 

Find out more


  • We are one of the leading Schools of Education in the UK and ranked in the top 100 in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022. We offer a stimulating and supportive environment for our research postgraduates and we offer several postgraduate study options. Visit our School of Education webpages to find out more. 
  • If you’d like to share your postgraduate research experience, visit our Submit a blog or vlog page for more information.
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