Ph.D. Talks: Get to Know our UofG Law School Ph.D. Candidates

On 17 February 2023, the GU-IPS hosted its first event of the semester- Ph.D. Talks: Get to Know our UofG Law School Ph.D. Candidates. The guests were Gabriele Cifrodelli, Aline Iramina, and Andreas Giorgallis, who are currently pursuing their Ph.D. at the University of Glasgow’s School of Law. The event was moderated by Sushmita Nair and took place at the Gilchrist Seminar Room (The Wee G). 

About the guests: 

Gabriele Cifrodelli is a Ph.D. candidate as well as a Research and Teaching Assistant. He is also a member of the CREATe. His LLM dissertation while as a student at the University of Glasgow inspired his Ph.D. topic, which seeks to answer whether an Artificial Intelligence System can be considered an “inventor” under the current patent system.  

Aline Iramina is in the third year of her Ph.D. journey. A member of the Brazilian Bar Association, her research is on copyright and platform regulation, and she wants to promote algorithm transparency to mitigate the effects of algorithms on copyright regimes. She is also a digital engagement intern at CREATe. 

Cyprus-born Andreas Giorgallis is a third-year Ph.D. candidate and, like the others, is also associated with CREATe. His Ph.D. research focuses on the Restitution of Sacred Colonial Cultural Objects, particularly on the Magdala Collection (Ethiopia).   

Motivations to pursue a Ph.D. 

The speakers had interesting stories about their motivations for pursuing an academically enthralling path. Aline had work experience related to copyright regulations and investigating copyright law from a government perspective. This experience made her feel like she might like academic research, thus leading her to pursue a Ph.D. 

As a student pursuing a double-degree law program at the University of Trento, Italy, Gabrielle got an opportunity to pursue his master’s at the University of Glasgow. A brief stint at a law firm made him realize his interests lie elsewhere.  

Like Gabrielle, Andreas too felt he belonged elsewhere after working in a law firm for a few years. He contacted several universities for a Ph.D. based on his LLM dissertation from the University of Edinburgh. Eventually, he got a chance to join the University of Glasgow for his Ph.D. 

Ph.D. application process 

The high tuition fees make Ph.D. funding feels daunting for international students. Self-funding, local institutions, and university scholarships can make the Ph.D. adventure less stressful. 

Aline sought a scholarship from the Internet Society, which referred her to CREATe Director Professor Martin Kretchmer. She sent her CV and LLM dissertation to the College of Social Sciences (CSS), which offered a scholarship to fund her studies. 

Gabriele explained that the UK government provides two types of external funding for law schools: EHRC (Economic and Social Research Council) and AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council). Although he applied for the AHRC and CSS scholarships, he was, unfortunately, denied a grant. But he was selected for a Research and Teaching Assistant position at the School of Law and the CREATe, which combines a Ph.D. scholar and class teaching. Gabriele says this allows him to train as a teacher. 

Andreas was awarded a Ph.D. scholarship by his local institution, the Government of Cyprus. Checking the websites of universities and contacting cultural-heritage law professors made it easier for him to figure out the application process. He is currently writing his thesis while helping his Ph.D. supervisor write a book on a similar topic. 

Requirements for Ph.D. application 

Ph.D. candidates must pass two stages: funding and admission. Since applicants have publications and strong academic records, Aline and Gabriele agreed that contemporary topics with little/scarce research can bolster a good Ph.D. proposal. Proposals should be original and advance the existing knowledge. Gabriele advised that since many students apply for Ph.D. funding/scholarships, they must have an intense research background. He also suggested choosing a Ph.D. mentor with relevant experience related to the candidate’s thesis. 

Having work experience does not necessarily have to be a prerequisite for the application. Gabriele and Aline advised students to pursue a Ph.D. immediately if they had a clear goal. However, some work experience can expose the candidate to where to focus on his thesis.  

Andreas said a Ph.D. proposal should have a clear title, a literature review that covers what has been written, and most importantly, the candidate’s contribution, such as criticisms or suggestions. It should also cover methodologies like empirical research, doctrinal research, and interviews. He suggested contacting the potential Ph.D. supervisors or your LLM supervisors to discuss the Ph.D. topic before applying. 

Other key factors of a Ph.D. Application 

When asked about the relevance of academic grades in one’s Ph.D. Application, the speakers agreed that in case one is applying for an academic position, some universities require good grades, especially the grade received by the candidate for their dissertation. Maintaining good grades helps the university determine if a candidate can do research. Other skills that the speakers emphasized were knowing how to make a presentation, do empirical research, and conduct interviews.  

The Interview Stage 

While talking about the interview stage of her Ph.D. application, Aline said that the interviewer asked about the research’s potential theoretical and practical impacts. Andreas said the interviewer looks at the candidate’s CV, including publications, internships, relevant work experience, and past grades. On the other hand, Gabrielle mentioned that a few candidates do not have to give an interview as part of their application. Talking about his experience, he said that he was asked to create a structure that he would follow while teaching a class. Ultimately, it boils down to the position that you have applied for. 

The Ph.D. Life 

The transition from working to academic life can be difficult for some. Aline remarked that the Ph.D. is an academic degree that requires daily intellectual discovery and has a lot of flexibility, which is not present in the law firm culture. When asked what the best part of being a Ph.D. candidate is, all three touted attending conferences, having the freedom and flexibility to navigate the Ph.D. thesis and research and work at their own pace, networking, and being part of the academic community. 

Concluding remarks 

The insights shared by Gabrielle, Aline, and Andreas were quite helpful for prospective Ph.D. candidates.  Their candid answers about the fundamental parts of their Ph.D. journey was a good starting point for students interested in a career in academia.