Case study

PhD student — Sarthak Mondal

Sarthak graduated with a first class honours degree in Sport Business Management from Sheffield Hallam University. He then went straight on to study for a PhD in Sport Economics and Governance

Why did you decide to pursue a PhD course?

When I was in the second year of my undergraduate degree I started taking a keen interest in research, which led to one of my second year class assignments being worked into a full fledged journal article by my tutor. I presented in poster showcases and conferences and collaborated with his research group on other projects as well. It was at that point that I realised that I could be a good researcher and the following year I went on to work as a casual research assistant for Sport Industry Research Centre and started making myself comfortable in areas of research.

At this point, I knew that I wanted to pursue a PhD after graduation, but the major challenge was skipping the Masters degree.

What was the application process like?

The application process involved two stages:

  • the submission of a research proposal along with two academic references
  • then a face-to-face interview of one hour (it was video interview this year due to the pandemic) if shortlisted after first round.

Why did you choose this PhD and institution?

A PhD is a long-term commitment and as a result it is important to select a subject area that you are passionate about. Choosing the institution was an easier task as I chose to work with supervisors I already knew from my undergraduate days.

How are you funding your PhD study?

I am on a full stipend by the university as recommended by UKRI. However, as I am classified as an international student, I have to pay the difference between home and international tuition fees, and it comes out of my stipend.

Apart from that, I work casual, part-time jobs on campus as a student ambassador and recently secured another part-time job as a content writer with a sports education organisation.

Tell us a bit about your PhD and what it involves

My PhD involves examining financial and governance issues in the Asian football industry. It's a mixed-methods PhD and involves working with both quantitative and qualitative data. At the end of my PhD I'm hoping to make a research contribution by developing a quantifiable model of good governance for the Asian football industry.

How is your PhD assessed?

My PhD is assessed in three stages:

  • submission of research outline
  • confirmation of doctorate
  • PhD viva.

How well connected is your university to the industry you'd like to enter?

My supervisors are well connected with both the academic and professional field. I haven't decided yet on what I want to do after my PhD as it is still a way off, but I have vague ideas. I have networked both in conferences and via LinkedIn with individuals from the industry I wish to work in upon completing my PhD.

How does postgraduate life differ to undergraduate?

Postgraduate life is a lot different to undergraduate. While you are still expected to work independently during your undergraduate, the degree is driven by lecturers, the department and the university.

The story is a lot different for a PhD. For a PhD you have to work independently and essentially drive your own research. The supervisors are there to guide you as and when you need, but the end of the day you are your own boss. The successful completion of your PhD depends entirely on you, and that includes working to deadlines and developing a good working relationship with your supervisors.

What do you hope to do when you graduate?

I want to take up a post-doc position after finishing my PhD. However, given the unpredictable world we are living in, that might not be the case in three-four years, and I have started considering other options as well.

What areas of work could you go into as a result of your PhD?

Upon completion of my PhD, I can take up teaching positions with any university, if they are available or search for a post-doc position or even work in mid-to-senior level governance positions in the sports industry.

What tips would you give to others considering a PhD?

A PhD is a major commitment. So be sure before you apply that you want to pursue it. Speak to people who are already pursuing their PhD and pick their brains if they are willing to have a chat with you. Have a research idea in mind and start speaking to your lecturers and other people in your network to get advice from them on this.

Want to share your story?

Get in touch by emailing and tell us you'd like to provide a case study about your job, course, work experience or gap year.

Find out more

  • Sarthak took part in our virtual event, Future You: Live!, which was held on the 26 November. If you missed it you can still catch up. Register to watch the advice sessions and student panels.
  • Learn more about PhD study.

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