UCL Careers


Michael Cai

MA Philosophy of Education student Michael used the Turing Grant to fund his research placement to explore further study and PhD options at visit Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China.

Student standing in front of a green wearing a UCL branded t-shirt

Tell us why you wanted to undertake a global research placement in China.

I’ve always wanted to do a PhD after finishing my master’s programme at UCL and I was wondering if there was any chance I could do my PhD at Zhejiang University. During my Turing-funded visiting scholar period, I contacted my potential supervisor and discuss my PhD plans with him. I also wanted to get a taste of the Zhejiang University campus to see if I liked it and wanted to stay longer.

The reason I chose to visit Zhejiang University in Hangzhou is that it is one of the top universities in China and one of the top 50 universities in the world. Hangzhou is also a rich, historic, and peaceful city that deserves to be visited.

What impact did the placement have on your future plans?

I had a great time conversing with many scholars and learned a lot! My supervisor was very kind and a well-known scholar in China. He introduced me to many other doctoral students and professors to chat with. He also invited me to listen in on many important academic meetings that are not normally open to externals. I could not be more grateful for these experiences and his significant help. After my Turing-funded research placement, I decided that I would like to pursue a PhD.

Top tips for undertaking a placement in China:

  1. Register for a WeChat account and a local number with a smartphone, and download some useful apps so you're able to do everything you need to.
  2. Live a normal life on campus while attempting to experience the university’s unique culture.       
  3. Interact and network with academics (i.e., postdocs or professors) and students. This will broaden your knowledge in your field and help you make new friends.
  4. Speak to the locals; learn about their way of thinking and how it differs from yours or where you are from. 
  5. It is important to experience how different the cultures we live in are and reflect on why. The fact that China and Chinese academia are fundamentally different from those in the United Kingdom is the most compelling reason to try to experience.

A panel of four speakers on a stage
Alt text: Four individuals sat in chairs on a stage in a university lecture theatre.

A classroom of students facing a speakers at a lectern
Alt text: A small lecture theatre. There is a lecturerer behind the theatre podium, and stduents are sat in the theatre.

A sign for the School of Philosophy at Zhejiang University
Alt text: A sign that reads "School of Philosophy, Zhejiang University".