PhD Supervision: Western or Chinese Style?

During my fieldwork in Beijing, King’s held a joint seminar with Peking University. I got the chance to present my interview findings in the PhD panel, together with one colleague from King’s and two from PKU.


The audiences, mainly Chinese scholars from PKU and RUC who specialised on East Asian security, were so critical that it made me feel like rehearsing my PhD thesis defense. They provided inspiring comments on literature review, thesis structure, and research methods, but in a quite serious way, so serious that after the panel my second supervisor, who was also participating in the seminar, asked me whether I was OK. I was absolutely fine because I was educated in China, used to the academic environment, and fully aware that they were trying to help when they sounded harsh.

It is just a cultural difference. While the role of supervisors to students is paternal in Chinese tradition, it is more like team leader in the western context: both have their own merits. So far, my PhD study benefited a lot from the western way of supervising and skills training, of course including King’s Partnership Grant which supported my visit to Renmin University of China (RUC).

King’s Partnership Grant