Go for the best or stay to the rest?


======= Date Modified 24 21 2010 22:21:38 =======
Hi all,

I'm currently searching for PhD studentships within the Uk. Although I know my fields of interests (in biological sciences) I don't know which research Institutes (Universities) I should apply to. I do have high standards and I would like to obtain my PhD from a well known (High research quality) University. Is this the real case? Is it that important to graduate from the best (Cambridge, Oxford etc)?

Thank you all


It depends what you want to do afterwards. If you want to go into private sector, where people don't know a damn thing about the academic merits of a PhD, then a good name University is a help. If you want to go into an academic career, who your supervisor is is probably of greater importance.

However don't run before you can walk. Find out what you're interested in and see where offers it, not the other way round.


Hi Ms

Which area of biological sciences are you most interested in? Different institutions offer different opportunities.

Good luck with your search!



Hi Ms2010! For your PhD it is better to go to a department who specialise more closely in what you want to study and who have appropriate supervisors for you, rather than just shooting for one because you like the name of it. Of course it looks good if your PhD is from a good university, but it's very different than worrying about where to go for your undergrad degree, where you tend to be judged pretty much just on your degree classification and where it was from. For your PhD you will be judged on the work and publications you produce, and who you have worked alongside rather than the university you went to. I left a top uni in the UK to study at a uni with a fairly average reputation overall, but the specific department I am in is excellent, and is ranked alongside all of the top unis in the RAE assessments, including Oxbridge. If you want to do well, then you need to be working in a good department, with the leaders in the field and people who will supervise you well, so you should make your selection based on the department rather than the university. I have never regretted my decision to leave my old uni to come to this one- it is absolutely the perfect place for me to study what I'm doing, and I hope to stay on here after my PhD. So bear that in mind- the best place for you to do your PhD might not be at one of the best universities overall! KB


I'm interested in Molecular and Evolutionary ecology, Conservation and Population genetics, Island Biogeography and Phylogenetics.

As far your comments were very helpful.
Thank you


Wow! That's quite a diverse range of interests. Those are not really my fields, do you know where the biggest names in those fields are? Whose work interests you?

I was thinking a bit more about your post - you might have to re-evaluate your views of "Best = Oxbridge, Rest = everyone else" when you are making your decisions...