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Friday, 9 February 2018 at 10:18am
Monday, 19 February 2018 at 10:57am
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Thread: Which PhD should I go for ?

20-Feb-18, 10:42
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posted about 1 hour ago
Lots of specifics going on here which ultimately come down to your own choice/gut feeling.

However, all else being equal, I really don't think it matters at all whether you graduate from an English or MFL department. The structure of universities simply means that you have to be put in a 'box' one way or another, but once you get to PhD you find people working on inter-disciplinary things which straddle departments and it's really not a big deal. I work in a specific social science discipline and we have PhD students who would technically be classified as geographers, political philosophers, political economists, historians of science, sociologists, etc etc, who will all graduate from the same department - the name of which tells you very little about their research.

What matters is a) the appropriateness of your supervision arrangements (sounds like uni A has got that right), b) the research environment and availability of relevant expertise, and c) - by far the most important - the content and quality of your own thesis.

Whether it's an English or MFL department, from what you've said, shouldn't have much bearing on what you actually research and write. I really wouldn't worry about that aspect.

Thread: Difficulties managing part-time job and PhD

19-Feb-18, 11:04
edited about 9 minutes later
Avatar for bongmaster5000
posted about 1 day ago
Regarding the last point above - lots of universities will have student hardship funds or similar pots of money, designed to bail out students who are in dire financial straits (I'm not sure if this is what you're referring to - apologies if not). Unfortunately, these are difficult to access; they will require itemized receipts of all your expenses in order to determine how much/whether you need it. However, the main problem is that they will be conditional on your having planned your finances adequately, and having a reasonable expectation that you can complete your studies with the funds you've already got in place. Taking on a self-funded PhD without the cash in place to do so, without part-time work, won't be considered a valid reason for accessing that money. Plus, it tends to be a one-shot thing, a lump sum of a couple grand (maximum) to get you out of a financial pinch that would result in you dropping out otherwise. Not much use for funding a PhD.

Definitely do go and talk to the SU, though, to discuss your options.

Can you apply for external grants? That would probably be my first port of call in your shoes - even if it requires interrupting for a year so you can search for funding and maybe work to build up some savings in the meantime. There are also career development loans from certain banks, but again I'm not sure these would provide enough to cover multiple years of full-time PhD study and all the expenses it entails.

Maybe even bite the bullet and go part-time. Plenty of people do it and in certain countries (like Finland, off the top of my head) it's the norm to do it part-time and take up to 10 years to finish. You'll still be out quicker than that.

Thread: Difficulties managing part-time job and PhD

19-Feb-18, 10:14
edited about 24 seconds later
Avatar for bongmaster5000
posted about 1 day ago
That is a really tough situation. Full-time PhDs really are essentially full-time jobs. I would seriously struggle to juggle an extra 18 hours a week of paid work, it sounds exhausting - personally I do a couple of hours a week teaching plus prep; much more than that I think would have a serious quality-of-life impact. You're right, lots of people do it, but I certainly wouldn't judge anybody for sacking off the job to focus on the PhD.

I guess it comes down to whether you can continue to fund yourself adequately. What's the job? Does your university have internal opportunities like teaching or note-taking? Some people find these easier to fit around their studies, and they are often a little better-paid than other available part-time work.

Thread: PhD rejections

09-Feb-18, 10:35
edited about 19 seconds later
Avatar for bongmaster5000
posted about 1 week ago
I have to agree strongly with the above two posters. A focus on RG unis because you don't want to 'aim low', for me, potentially shows a pretty fundamental misunderstanding of the research environment and how PhDs work at a basic level. If this is as indicative as it sounds, I am not surprised you're having problems. Are your prospective supervisors and departments the correct fit, or are you trying to shoehorn yourself into an unsuitable research community? How are your references? What feedback have you had? It's hard to say what exactly is going on here without a bit more information, but it does sound like you need to totally scratch your existing application/proposal and start from the ground up.

PhD applications - I quickly found - are about being smart and strategic, definitely not about churning out as many applications as possible, or repeatedly banging on the door of the same institutions for years on end.

To answer your question: applied last year while finishing a masters at a non-RG university (but one that is excellent in my field). 3 applications and offers of a place, 2 research council funding interviews, 1 offer of funding, which I accepted. If it hadn't worked, I would have completely re-evaluated my approach and started again. Yes, funding is competitive and scarce, but if you have the track record and the capability it shouldn't take you that long to get in unless something is going dreadfully wrong with your applications. I'd seek some frank feedback from a referee or academic contact who's been with you throughout the process because you urgently need to find out what's going wrong before you waste any more time!
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