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How did I pick my PhD Project?

When deciding to do a PhD it’s so important to ensure your project is something that’ll keep you interested - as you’ll be working on this for a minimum of three years.


For my own project, I knew I wanted to look into British Indian voting behaviour – but I didn’t know quite how far this research topic idea would take me in academia.


Funnily enough, it was when I was preparing for my AS Level exam in Government and Politics in 2015, when scratching the surface of voting behaviour – I noticed something that actually quite annoyed me. The textbook had said something along the lines of “ethnic minorities vote for the Labour Party.” I realise for a 17-year-old, it’s quite a bizarre thing to get annoyed over – but for me I knew this was inaccurate and rather outdated. How, you might be wondering – my answer to you, is quite simply I knew my views aligned with the Conservative Party, and if I – a young, British Indian – felt that way, then surely there were others who felt the same. It sounds like a cliché, but it was just after then that I knew if I got into university – voting behaviour of ethnic minorities is what I’d write my dissertation on.


Fast forward to the end of my second year at De Montfort University, when we were told to start thinking about what we wanted to write our dissertations on and to submit a form on the topic, well I got that done instantly! For 4 years, voting behaviour was something that had bugged me, and finally it was time for me to add just a little something to the existing literature. When returning to university in September, we were given a deadline of March 2020 to have the dissertation completed, which is why my research was titled British Hindu voters and the Conservative Party: A Case Study on Leicester East. By focusing specifically on Hindus in the Leicester East constituency and measuring attitudes towards the Conservative Party was specific enough to highlight that something is happening, and ethnic minority voters aren’t a homogenous voting bloc.


Of course, like all projects – it wasn’t a smooth-running project, but I’ll be writing a piece on how to overcome a variety of challenges at the end of this week.


For my master’s dissertation, I had started the year thinking I would write my dissertation on Artificial Intelligence and ethics – and I “stocked up” on a lot of books to get me prepared. However, when the time came and following a conversation with Dr. Rakib Ehsan about what I’d do after my masters, the consideration of doing a PhD on voting behaviour, I was advised to do my masters dissertation in a similar area to the bachelors dissertation. It was after this conversation, the title for my dissertation was born: Is British Indian is a redundant term? A Case Study on Indians in England. For this dissertation, I didn't face as many challenges compared to the experience of my bachelors and as a result – I definitely found it a lot more enjoyable! The top three things that I know made researching and writing my masters dissertation enjoyable is; I had more control over the process, my supervisor was really helpful and I was learning a lot from the wealth of data I had collected, as a total of 245 people had participated in my research.




Following the success and engagement that I had from my masters degree, I knew I wanted to do my PhD on British Indian voting behaviour. I had built up a solid foundation of knowledge – and I knew the findings in both my dissertations had highlighted someone does need to look into British Indian voting behaviour, so I thought “why not me?”


And here I am, in November 2022, I'm at the University of Hull, under a fantastic supervisor and second supervisor – in a very supportive department, getting ready to take a deep dive into being immersed in my project.


Sidenote:


I do think it’s also important to highlight that this is applicable to you, if you’re currently doing your Bachelors or Masters. You’ll be working on your dissertation for an extended period of time, you’ll be completing your dissertation amongst other things that are going on in your life, the topic you chose has to be something that you look forward to getting back too – no matter how far it may challenge you!


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