Signup date: 20 Jul 2015 at 9:38am
Last login: 02 Oct 2015 at 1:30am
Post count: 19
I've just finished my first week and as others have said above it is a very slow start. I came straight from finishing a Masters so I assumed I'd be suitably prepared to make the transition but it's weird when you actually have to make your own structure for each day. You should hopefully get your own desk with you having secured a Studentship (certainly the case at my uni anyway, but this may be different between universities) and the best thing to do is to get started as soon as you can. Nobody tells you to get started (at least, not in my experience) so it's a case of taking the initiative after you've had your induction and cracking on with the reading etc. I can't say for the rest of the year though but hopefully we'll make it through it alive! Best of luck with yours.
1. It's pretty difficult, yes, but if you're motivated enough you should get to where you want to be. This might involve applying to several universities and it also depends on how willing you are to compromise on the project if you're looking at a funded PhD. I had a 2:1 but then had a Masters to balance it out and depending on the university you apply to they may be looking for someone with a postgraduate degree.
2. It's likely that you'll need to provide both. I applied for 5 different unis and only one didn't require me to write a research proposal as they already had a very rigid proposal in mind already. But definitely check if you're unsure.
3. I got a Studentship and in the original project advertisement it stipulated that the proposed project should be in a particular area, although this was a very broad area which had a lot of scope to make it my own. It will vary between universities and departments. Funded projects tend to be a very fixed area but then you can adapt it to make your own to a certain extent.
It would depend where you are applying as some places don't require one (or any particular grade), whereas others will expect a Distinction (or a Merit with Distinction in the dissertation). If you are applying for the top few universities in the country a Distinction will be more of an expectation than a bonus but many universities would bite your hand off with a 68% average.
This is a bit of a generic post really but I'm looking for advice above moving away to a new uni and starting a PhD. I'm handing in my Masters dissertation tomorrow, which marks the end of four years at my current uni. Now it's starting to sink in that I'm moving away to start my PhD in less than two weeks. I've only ever lived in small towns before and for my new uni is in the second biggest city in the country. I've tried to read blogs and posts on here so that I know what to expect but even still it seems very daunting!
So, what I'm asking for is generic advice really. Does anyone have any tips for teaching students (as I'll be doing as part of my studentship), starting a PhD, or adjusting to a new uni at this level? I've read enough posts on here saying that a PhD can be very isolating, so it worries me to think I'll feel lonely in the city! This is, of course, assuming that I'll have time to be lonely! Anyway, any tips at all would be greatly appreciated as to hear from PhD students who have 'been there, done that' would be incredibly reassuring.
Oh yes, I get this a lot, and I've not even started my PhD yet! A good thing to do might be to think to yourself whenever you feel like anyone can do this, 'yes. but they're not'. You've got to this point for a reason - no admissions would allow you on to a PhD course if you weren't of a certain capability. Anytime you feel yourself berating yourself for not being good enough, try to remind yourself how far you've come. One thing I find useful is to speak to people who haven't been to university. Such people can be a real confidence booster (in my experience) as often without you even broaching the subject they will tell you how amazing it is that you're doing a PhD, and that you must be so clever. Sometimes one of the biggest mistakes I make is - and I think this is where a lot of my own lack of confidence issues derive from - that I place myself around very intelligent people and begin to compare myself to them. But, ultimately, comparing ourselves to other people isn't healthy, as much as it is human nature to do so.
Also, you mention that you've only just started learning in this field, so I feel you should give yourself a chance to become accustomed to it. Even some of the most intelligent people will take a while to come to terms with a new field. I wouldn't worry yourself about having not grasped the basics - after all, they are just that, and shouldn't be hard for you to pick up over time. Also, I doubt your university would want to fire you/fail you - apart from anything, at a crude level, they want to ensure that they have used their funding well and by firing you they would've essentially wasted that money. However, the fact that they are willing to fund you in the first place shows that they picked you over many other people. Try believing in yourself :).
I agree with TreeofLife - Ganesha's comment came across as narrow-minded. You can't judge a person from a short paragraph they have provided.
I've not yet started my PhD yet (will do next month) but I know how you feel about focusing on a career. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. For instance, I know a couple of friends of mine who were set on academic careers but then found partners and settled comfortably into life with them and are now working in retail. There is nothing wrong at all with working in retail, of course, but it seemed to me as though they lost their ambition along the way. So at least by focusing on your career you've made a good start as that's something somebody can never take away from you (your education and experience, at least).
Anyway, in terms of actually meeting someone, are there any social groups within your university you can join? I don't know how this would work at your level as I'm only just finishing my Masters now but I know that in our University we have various postgraduate and academic societies and gatherings to encourage interdisciplinarity and the like. There is also Internet dating, something I myself have done. It can be a bit hit and miss in terms of finding someone but you are at least able to narrow down specific attributes on some dating sites, so you could find other people with a PhD etc.
From my perspective, I know I set high standards for a relationship like I do for my education/career. Perhaps you might be a little similar? Again, it's hard for us to say from the information we have to go off. What I do know is that many of my friends who have met their partners met them in random places like a bus stop or a dodgy nightclub! So keep holding out hope and you never know, you might meet the love of your life at the next conference you go to...
I'm coming towards the end of my Masters now and I'm wondering whether to get my dissertation supervisor a present or something to thank him for his support. He taught me on my undergraduate too so I kind of feel as though I should show him I appreciate his support over the years, as he has often gone above and beyond to help me. Did anybody else buy their supervisor something to thank them? If so, what did you buy?
My experience was quite similar to Wowzers, in that I got a 2:1 in my undergraduate but the work experience I got clinched it for me really. It was research and teaching experience and so I think it made up for the deficit. What I would say is that a Masters is great preparation for a PhD, and particularly where it is a research Masters. For me, I treated the MRes as a sort of pilot to see if I could cope with the demands of conducting a research project.
I will admit that securing a Studentship can be difficult, and for me it's been very time-consuming, when I probably should have focused all my energy on my Masters. This is something to bear in mind when you yourself are applying - make sure it doesn't take overshadow your degree. In terms of deadlines, the bulk of Studentships tend to start opening up around Jan/Feb time. This is the prime time to apply really. However, Studentships (in my field at least) are still opening up now for a Sept/Oct 2015 start date, so all is not lost if you want to hang off a bit. That said, it's better to apply early if you can, and if you're really set on this one uni in particular you'll need to be aware of their specific deadlines.
It's also good to keep your options open. The reason I have only just secured a Studentship is that I put all my eggs in one basket and assumed that my uni would give me funding. When this didn't materialise I was upset and it was a knock to my confidence. I'm not saying the same will happen to you but it's always a possibility. However, if you're set on Sheffield, to maximise your chances it might be worth considering extra things like a Masters or relevant experience. If this means dedicating a year to that after you've finished your undergraduate then it might be beneficial in the long run.
I was just wondering if anybody had any experience of publishing their Masters dissertation findings in a journal at all? My research has thrown up some really interesting results for a topic which is very much in the spotlight at the minute, and as such I'm keen to present my findings. I noticed that a journal in this specialist field has put a call out for papers so now might be a good opportunity to get it out there if I can!
It does not seem to be something which is very common at this level but I've heard of one person at my uni who published theirs. My only concern is that my sample size is a little on the small side in comparison to larger studies, and I don't know how if I'd need to get extra ethical clearing to publish. If anybody has had any experience of this I'd love to hear from you! In my head it sounds like a crazy idea but it seems to be an itch that won't go away.
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