Been told I will fail my PhD 10 months to go?


I moved labs 9 months into my 3 year PhD due to poor supervision and ended up with worse. I have tried my best but my meeting with primary and secondary supervisors led to them saying there is no way you will get a PhD. Apparently I do not have enough data or knowledge in the area. I have worked my ass off and think I have produced a lot and they themselves have agreed in the time period it is a good amount but I have not caught up the time lost and I would have to work 24/7 6 days a week to have any chance of passing. They are suggesting I re-register as an MPhil because if I submit and get viva'd and fail I won't get anything at all? I won't even get the option to resubmit as a MPhil? Does this all sound strange? I am not sure if they are more worried about the embarrassment to the lab if I fail. My PhD mentor and head of department say it's too early to say and ignore them but obviously I am worried!


Hmm, sounds a bit political to me...

I always think it's a bit of a cop out when supervisors suddenly tell people that they haven't done enough work to pass - where were they when the work was being done? Didn't they think months ago that you hadn't done enough work and why didn't they mention this before?

In a PhD viva they can outright fail you and you can walk away with nothing, rather than getting an MPhil, but this is a very rare scenario.

My supervisor recently told someone in my lab that they are unlikely to pass their upgrade from MPhil to PhD. The student did pass but was told by his assessor that he had a lot of work to do over the next few months in order to achieve his PhD.

Do you have an option to continue unfunded when your funding finishes? Maybe that will give you enough time to collect more data.

The thing to mention is your supervisors may be incorrect anyway, as your mentor and HoD said - so much rides on the external examiner so it's really not their decision whether you pass or fail therefore what they think about you passing or failing may be irrelevant.


Have you tried to present your work in a conference?
Perhaps some professors will be positive with your research and agree to be your examiners?

My primary supervisor had great difficulty understanding my thesis. (She was unable to help or revise my work.)
However, I met an professor in conference who could understand my thesis...
He became my examiner and passed my thesis with minor revision...
We even discuss to publish several papers together.


Hi Sam,

I'm sorry to read your post.

I was worried about an MPhil outcome throughout my PhD. My supervisor even confirmed this right before I went into the viva, ie that an MPhil was a possibility which really upset me!.

But, the examiners were very knowledgble on my topic (unlike my supervisors) and were pleased with the amount of work within my PhD and awarded me with the outcome I wanted (resubmission). I eventually graduated this summer. So all, all in all, supervisors can be wrong!

Definitely network with academics with expertise in your area and disseminate your work. During the final stages of my PhD, I arranged a meeting with a professor who has written many publications on my thesis topic. She provided me with a much needed confidence boost after endless amount of criticism from my supervisors. Looking to publish some papers with this professor.

Best of luck