Conceptualising subjective well-being through Social Ecology Systems theory: A comparison of PhD and Professional Doctorate students’ experiences

David William Stoten


The issue of student well-being has risen up the policy agenda in the past decade and continues to influence how policy makers approach this complex and demanding concern. Although there has been important research undertaken in relation to full-time PhD students, relatively little attention has been paid to those who undertake a part-time professional doctorate (PD). Moreover, there is a gap in the literature in terms of a comparative approach that reports on the variety of experiences of PhD and PD students. This paper reports on a qualitative approach in which PhD and PD students were interviewed about their well-being as doctoral students. The findings not only highlight the challenges associated with doctoral study but also the personal fulfilment for students. Social Ecology Systems theory is adopted in order to enhance our conceptualisation of the subjective well-being of doctoral students.

 Keywords: Subjective well-being; doctoral study; stress; role conflict; social ecology model; interpretative phenomenological analysis.

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