Some students apply to a PhD programme simply because there is funding. But you do not necessarily want to study in a department where no-one has expertise in your topic simply because you have been offered a scholarship.
Also, students sometimes apply to the programme which is closest to where they live or is in the same department in which you studied your undergraduate degree. However, these are not necessarily good academic reasons. Instead, the first question you should ask is where are the best researchers in the field you are interested in located?
Studying in a PhD programme in a department in which there is a concentration of researchers working in your field, especially researchers with strong international reputations may improve your ability to access:
- Potential supervisors who will be interested and knowledgeable about your topic
- Network of researchers, including other PhD students, with an interest in the topic
- Greater opportunities to publish, teach in your specific field, attend conferences and seminars, develop contacts with visiting scholars
- Career opportunities beyond the PhD
There may be other factors that will also influence your choice, such as:
- Family commitments
- Cost of living
- What other facilities are offered, eg will you get your own desk, access to funds to present at conferences, research expenses
- Will you need a visa?
- Will you be a member of a research team or working alone?