There are so many opportunities available to PhD candidates to study and research abroad during their PhD. It can be an invaluable experience and shed a whole new light on the project. There are libraries and laboratories around the world just waiting to be discovered regardless of one’s research area. What is more, studying and researching abroad is a fantastic occasion to meet and network with other researchers in a similar field and attend events and conferences which would be harder to reach from home. Likewise it is a new exposure to different scholarly traditions and potentially new methodologies. We are living in an ever more interconnected world and although technology allows us to share so much information, not everything can be digitalised, not everything can be shared over video call.
International research needs to be factored in to the overall timetable: applications might require planning in advance so it is a good idea to get to know early on what opportunities are available and their requirements.
Many countries engage in joint PhD programmes between institutions in different countries, and the PhD candidate often has a supervisor in each of them. A European example of this is the Erasmus Mundus joint doctorate.
The Erasmus scheme is a brilliant opportunity for PhD students. This allows the candidate to be attached to a European university which has links with their home institution, thus inserting them into a network of similarly interested researchers. What is more, the new city or country might be the home to new collections in institutions such as libraries or archives. Although English is generally widely spoken, the benefit is that they also get to brush up on a foreign language, adding another feather to the bow!
Country specific schemes:
If the candidate has a specific country in mind it might be worth thinking of the bilateral funding opportunities for PhD candidates to go abroad.
- The most famous case of this is probably the Fulbright scholarship run by the U.S. government
- Another example of this is the Entente Cordiale scholarship between Britain and France which funds periods in the other country from language courses to an entire year abroad.
- Likewise, the German government runs the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
The relevant embassy or cultural organisation is a good starting point.
The home university may have a direct exchange or joint programme already in place so it is worth contacting the institution’s international office.
Funding institutions and academic societies
There is also the possibility of applying to a funding institution to research abroad. For example, the AHRC runs the ‘International Placement Scheme’ allowing their funded students to spend six months at institutions such as the Library of Congress.
Similarly, the Leverhulme Trust runs ‘Study Abroad Studentships’
Academic societies also offer grants for international research or travel so it is worth keeping an eye out for their announcements.