Portrait of Nikhita bhandari

Nikhita Bhandari

What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?

I first encountered philosophy in my undergraduate degree and was immediately captivated. Being able to immerse myself in philosophical literature and having the freedom to present my own opinions and thoughts logically within an essay was a welcome break from the otherwise heavily analytical and numerate nature of my degree. Despite my scientific background, I have always valued opportunities to be creative, especially with the written language. As I completed my PGCE, I met with philosophy once again when studying pedagogical theories. I was able to relate key aspects from philosophy of science and philosophy of psychology to educational theory and practice and wove these into my essays that year, finding the interrelations between subjects truly fascinating. I taught science full-time for two unforgettable years and then realised I wanted to study philosophy of science at a higher level.

The University of Leeds was an easy decision for me; it is a city that is close to home and one that I know well, and the Philosophy department here is excellent, with cutting edge research. I feel proud to be a part of it!

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?

I have personally seen how much I have progressed from the philosophy I studied as an undergraduate. The master’s degree is intense and challenging, but it is incredibly rewarding to know that you are being taught and supported by people who are at the cutting edge of new philosophy. We are guided through and able to discuss all the readings and I now find I am attempting to read more challenging literature on my own. I am passionate about looking at the way science fits into society and the world at large, as well as the way we learn and interact with science, and I feel philosophy of science is the perfect course through which I can explore this.

What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?  

I enjoy the fact that I can go from a lack of understanding on an aspect of a particularly challenging text to confidence through discussions in tutorials. I’ve always felt very supported. Equally, I’ve also really valued the greater freedom we have as postgraduates to explore our specific areas of interest in more detail through assignments and the final dissertation, as well as the intellectual challenges posed by more advanced and demanding concepts and texts.

What would you say about Leeds as a city?

Second to none – it offers something for everybody whilst also still feeling fairly compact and familiar. The city centre has an excellent range of shops and restaurants, and Leeds nightlife is always fun and varied. If you fancy a change of scenery there are plenty of coffee shops you can hide away and study in too. I also love how close Leeds is to the countryside – it is so easy to escape to nature to refresh and recharge.

What has been the most surprising thing about coming to Leeds?

How easy I have found it to transition back to being a student here! The tutors are incredibly supportive and knowledgeable, and the philosophy postgraduate community is friendly and welcoming. 

What would you say about the learning facilities in your School and at the University in general?

We are definitely well catered for! There are quiet study spaces and common areas especially for Philosophy postgraduate students within the School. As well as this, the Edward Boyle library has an entire floor as a postgraduate ‘hub’ for study, with quiet areas, group discussion rooms, seminar rooms, and computer clusters. 

What other activities are available for students to take part in outside of their studies, and which ones have you tried out yourself?

Leeds is a key player within the national and international philosophy of science network, so external events often take place here. I have been fortunate enough to be able to attend philosophy conferences and have greatly enjoyed listening and speaking to eminent academics from all over the world. We are also frequented by visiting speakers, and postgraduate seminars and reading groups add another dimension beyond our studies. I’d highly recommend taking advantage of some of these.

I have also just completed accredited training to teach philosophy in schools and am looking forward to putting this into practice in academic outreach sessions. This year I have also really prioritised my health and fitness; it has become even more important to me as a postgraduate and has helped me maintain the work-life balance necessary to not only succeed, but also truly enjoy my studies here. The main university gym (The Edge) is state-of-the-art, and also has a swimming pool, climbing wall, and a huge variety of classes. Leeds University Union also has many clubs and societies, be it sport, music, or otherwise. There are so many opportunities to take advantage of while you’re here – there really is something for everyone.

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?

As long as you are passionate and ready for the challenge that lies ahead, you won’t regret it! Have confidence in your thoughts and opinions – it only makes for richer philosophical debate and will pay dividends in improving your skills of critical analysis. However, I think the real beauty of philosophy is that it is so inclusive. It really lends itself to different perspectives and viewpoints; everybody is capable of bringing in their own slant to contribute something unique and valuable to the field.