Feeling underprepared and overwhelmed :/



I graduated from my first degree three years ago and have been employed since - nothing that uses my degree, just something to pay the bills really - and I'm about to go into a 6-year part-time PhD course at the same university I got my first degree from. Practical constraints mean this is really my only viable option - they do have staff who do the subject I'm interested in but their specialisms are a little more restricted than I would have liked.

I have discussed some options with them, and they are workable, but I'm having a mad panic at the moment because I feel really under-confident. The subject is linguistics and there are more options available where I can use the language I got my first degree in (joint with linguistics) - Italian. I'm not fluent and I feel that since my overall 2:1 was a result of first-class work in linguistics and less than 2:1 work in Italian, I'm going to seem less competent than they maybe think I am when I do get to meet my prospective supervisors. The supervisor on the linguistics side is really keen for me to do research which basically repeats his but on Italian, but I'm not sure to what extent I agree with his work.

I've read that doing the PhD is more about learning how to research, so maybe it would be better to do something that the supervisor is keen on (I do share the interest, just not necessarily in agreement), rather than worrying too much about exactly what topic it is and getting all hung up. I'm chronically indecisive at the best of times, and I know I've not done enough background reading to help me make the best decisions.

Maybe I'm worrying way too much and this is how it's supposed to be - if anyone has any advice or comments though, would be much appreciated! :) I've postponed entry to uni for 3 years now and I can't keep doing this. I wish I had a Masters first, but couldn't get the funding and the uni will do PhD supervision but not the Masters, because the taught programme wouldn't suit me :/

Any suggestions?

Thanks :)


Hi Contention,

I don't want to put you off (especially as it sounds like your options are limited), but having finished a PT PhD, I'd personally say that it's essential to do a topic you LOVE. I'd say this was necessary for any PhD, but especially if you want to study for such a long period / part-time, unless you've a very high boredom threshold / very active imagination that can make anything 'fun'! It's tough - there'll be plenty of times you'll want to ditch it - so unless you're committed to the topic, it's a pretty big risk in time and money.

But maybe you have other options? What about distance learning - is this possible?? But anyhow, it might be worth talking again to your would-be supervisor, explaining the situation honestly, and see if the topic could be changed?

Also, if / when you do a PhD, as you've not done an MA, I'd really recommend taking any extra classes in research skills that may be on offer, even if these aren't compulsory to PT students, as there's a big difference in going from an MA to PhD, so going straight from a BA after a break may require a bit more support and advice

Wishing you well, and hope you find a solution