Denise Mifsud

PhD Education


A former deputy head teacher has travelled almost 30,000 miles to gain her PhD from the University of Stirling.

Denise Mifsud is based on the Island of Gozo in Malta and completed her Education PhD through distance learning, combining her studies with a full-time day job as deputy head of a school.

Her flight to Scotland to attend graduation is her ninth 3,000 mile round-trip to Stirling and sees Denise complete her studies from the Faculty of Social Sciences an impressive two years ahead of schedule.

Driven by her desire to become a University lecturer, Denise studied after work, on weekends and on holidays to complete her PhD in just three years.

“I chose Stirling because, for me, it’s the number one Faculty of Social Sciences in Scotland and it allowed me to do my doctorate remotely,” explained Denise, who has worked in education for 16 years and has already secured a new post as a university lecturer. Ninety-four percent of Stirling graduates are in employment or further study six months after graduation.

“I was able to have the best of both worlds – with my supervisor supporting me through the process while I worked at home. When I set my mind on something, it’s impossible to dissuade me from my target. The PhD was a challenging and time-consuming commitment, but luckily my husband was very supportive and became housekeeper, chef and personal travel agent.”

“My PhD journey – from embarking on the course to gaining my first academic job – has been incredible. I am grateful to the people around me, especially my supervisor Professor Cate Watson, whose constant encouragement and unerring support made it possible for me to fulfil my dream and look forward to starting my career in academia.”

Professor Watson has nothing but praise for Denise’s dedication and diligence. She said: “A PhD student like Denise comes along once in a supervisor’s lifetime. Her appetite for doctoral study was awe-inspiring and, right from the start, the most difficult thing was getting her to slow down.

“I gave her the go ahead to submit her thesis three years to the day that she first walked into my office – not bad given her other demanding commitments. I am delighted with her success and wish her all the best in her new post.”