Dr Gabriel Botchwey
I am currently a Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Education Winneba, Ghana.
Prior to this I taught Social Policy and Project Management at the University for Development Studies in Ghana (2012-2013) and worked in development practice as a Project Officer, Consultant and Socio-Economic Development Officer for various organisations from 2000 to 2007 in Ghana.
I have a background in Religions and Sociology (University of Ghana) and Development Studies (Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands).
Why I decided to undertake a PhD
I am very interested in learning how people think their affairs should be managed, especially how decisions should be made and who should make them. These tend to reveal different answers from different categories of people and I am excited about studying these issues in politics.
Development also means different things to different people and even with the same people, these meanings can change over time.
I felt the University of Leeds was a great place to engage with these issues for a PhD, and it offered me more than I expected.
My experience at Leeds
The University of Leeds is unique in many ways. It offers an atmosphere for direct critical engagement with your own assumptions about yourself as researcher, to challenge your views and to consider all possible interpretations of your observations as researcher. The School is willing to take critical comments from students and respond to their concerns.
The support staff in the School of Politics and International Studies are wonderful. They were always ready to help with printing, photocopies, administrative issues and all.
Since I graduated
I was quite prepared for work by the time I completed: I was confident about my research skills, I had obtained a teaching qualification in higher education through the ULTA-1 programme; I had acquired job search skills through the career skills centre and several other activities. They all paid off in my transition from study to employment.
Finding a job after my studies was not the key issue for me; the problem was which job to accept. I think employers understand the value of a research degree from Leeds, and are keen to snap it up. My current employer was my 4th job offer within 15 months after graduation.
I now teach political science, public policy and decentralisation at different levels in our university. I supervise the research projects of students and I am very active in research activities concerning the impact of small-scale gold mining in Ghana, local governance and public services delivery.
Leeds grants you access to all the materials and facilities you need for your studies; computers, office space, internet access, electronic resources, well stocked libraries, etc.
They even go to the extent of ordering materials for you from another library if it is not readily available from the University library. The library staff also give individualised guidance in accessing resources even when you begin your programme late (which happened in my case).
Leeds never sleeps; the owl is a perfect representation of the city. It’s an active city that offers everything you can ask for, and it never fails to remind you when Christmas is approaching with all the lights and hangings in the city centre.
Our Department of Political Science where I teach has just been created (October 2013), and my immediate plans are to help strengthen its programmes, and then to concentrate more on research that will enrich my teaching.
Top tip for current PhD students…
Walk into the career skills centre and have chat with the staff, and you will be helped. Do this early, if possible, before submission of your thesis.