Gefion Thuermer studying for an iPhD Web Science
"I chose to study at the University of Southampton because of the unique Web Science course offered here. I had been doing some work in this field for my undergraduate study without knowing exactly what to call it, so when I saw a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) about WebScience on FutureLearn I immediately felt a strong connection.
The biggest strength of my course is that it allows me the freedom to run my project myself but with expert guidance. I get to bounce ideas around a room full of specialist academics, which is fantastic and I feel so well supported
"The web is this amazing, giant new thing that affects every area of our lives, but because it is so new, no one knows what these effects are, or how they interact. Web Science looks at how the web changes society and society changes the web. My project looks at how political parties use the internet to make decisions and whether or not the web improves democratic participation in society.
"The biggest strength of my course is that it allows me the freedom to run my project myself but with expert guidance in all disciplines. The first year of the iPhD is an MSc course and I am now writing my PhD across three fields: Sociology, Political Philosophy, and Computer Science and I have specialists in every one of these fields in my supervisory board. I get to bounce ideas around a room full of academics with these diverse backgrounds, which is fantastic and I feel so well supported. They often suggest an angle to my project that I might not have thought of and I really enjoy this approach.
"The highlight of my course so far has been a research trip to Amsterdam where we met with another institute. We ran small projects together, presented posters of our work and discussed how we could tackle a set research problem from our various disciplines. This was fantastic - the buzz of so many people thinking and learning together was really inspiring!
"There have been lots of opportunities at Southampton for networking and work experience. The Web Science Institute holds regular industry events, distinguished lectures or research weeks, where we have the opportunity to meet industry partners and run small projects with them. I am also able to go to conferences, such as WebSci16 this year, where I am presenting my first conference paper."