I'm back - and I've actually started my PhD!


Hi everyone, I've taken a little break from the forum lately as I've been in so much of a limbo about the state of my Masters and whether I would start my PhD this month or not. I thought I had done really badly in my dissertation and that my supervisors might pull out of supervising me (lead sup supervised my MSc dissertation) and basically had a real confidence crisis and felt quite down over Christmas, it was like a huge period of uncertainty.

In early January I got an unconditional offer for the MPhil/PhD programme so was really relieved about that, after I accepted that I went through the rather long-winded enrolment procedures and attended an induction day. But I still didn't have the results for my dissertation and having an unconditional offer didn't really make it any easier to wait. But yesterday I collected it and I have a merit!! At 65 it isn't a brilliant mark but much better than I thought I would get. And it's been worked out that I have a merit for my MSc overall which I'm really pleased with, especially given the difficulties of the past year.

I've been getting to know the other PhD students and they all seem really nice and friendly, today we had a little meeting about the presentations we have to do next week, they have to do presentations about their research every year but I only have to introduce myself and my topic this time. I'm just a little concerned about how quiet my supervisors are being, today I emailed them all saying that I had enrolled and wanted to arrange an initial supervision meeting but I haven't heard anything back yet, I'm hoping that they are organising something together so that they can get back to me. Surely I would know by now if they didn't want to supervise me any more?!

I guess I'm still in that limbo period, even though I have started it doesn't feel like it. At the moment I am just reading around my topic as one of my supervisors gave me some writing to do over Christmas, nothing major just something to start off with.

Does the situation I'm in sound familiar to anyone? Sorry to ramble, but I just want to know if this prolonged uncertainty is 'normal'.

Natassia x


Hi Natassia,

nice to hear from you again and well done regarding you MSc.

In my opinion it is "normal" that there is a lot of uncertainty and limited communication in the PhD process. Probably to do with that supervisors have a lot of other things on their mind, various priorities, supervison of several students etc. With time one get's more used to it, although I still believe that interaction between student and supervisor should be a lot tighter, especially at the start.



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I think you need to start being more confident. You seem to have an awful lot of doubts! You got a good Masters result, you were given an unconditional offer, and have started your PhD. There is no good reason on this planet why your supervisors should not want to supervise you now ;-)

Hopefully your confidence will grow as you settle into your PhD. And I'm sure your supervisors will be back in touch soon to arrange a meeting, now you've enrolled. It is a funny time though, starting a PhD. I did it twice (full-time science, then later part-time humanities). But be happy!

Avatar for Batfink27

Hi Natassia

Welcome back!

I agree that you have every reason to be more confident about your position. Hopefully as you settle in to your PhD your confidence will grow - I think that's a necessary part of being a researcher, after all why would anyone else take you seriously if you don't believe in yourself? But I'm sure that will come. You've done really well to get this far - you've started a PhD!

I'm sure you'll hear from your supervisors soon, and will feel properly underway. But I remember feeling very uncertain about things and fairly lost at the start of mine - that will pass as you get yourself into the swing and start reading around your subject area. So don't worry, everyone feels something like you do at the start - and allow yourself to feel proud of how much you'v achieved so far! You do deserve this opportunity!

Good luck with it all!


Hey Natassia! Good to hear from you and congrats on your fab masters result- sounds like you've had such a tough year so it's great that you've come out with such a good result! Of course your supervisors will want you, you're the perfect candidate! I think even though starting a PhD is a big deal to most people some supervisors don't pick up on that and don't realise how nervous you are. I remember when I started my PhD my supervisor wasn't in that morning and I had no idea what to do and I couldn't even get into my office- then it was a week or two until I had a proper meeting with her so I was just reading vaguely relevant articles and re-reading my proposal etc! But she has been a (mostly) fab supervisor, so don't let a slow start worry you! Best of luck with things! KB


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Yep, agree with all before me. I think a lot of supvs underestimate or forget how daunting the process is at the start. Many probably think they are being nice by not hassling you and letting you find your feet. A bit of direction at the beginning would be very helpful as for many people it's easy to self-direct oneself once a project is properly under way.

Banish that self-doubt, they wouldn't have offered you an unconditional place if they didn't think you were the one for them. For your presentation, try and think it through from the audience's perspective, ie there will be people there who don't know you, your topic, or how you plan to go about things and this is your chance to introduce yourself. Keep it real and show that you have put some thought into it but don't be apologetic. Don't let your self-doubt seep through your slides - you don't want people to remember you for that!

Good luck with it (up)


Thanks for the responses - it is interesting and reassuring to read about others' similar experiences at the beginning. I got a response from one of them this morning and like I thoght they had been arranging something amongst themselves so I now have my first supervision next Wednesday! Trying not to be too nervous, in fact I'm looking forward to it.

Confidence is a real problem for me sometimes, and I definitely have a touch of 'imposter syndrome' at the moment. But hopefully it will pass. I think that because I've wanted to do a PhD for so long, like since my 3rd undergraduate year, it all feels a bit too good to be true that I'm finally here now. I'm sure it will feel more real when I've had my supervision and things are more in place.



Hey Natassia! That's great that you've started, and congrats on the masters merit! You should be really pleased with yourself, you know that you can totally do this! Like the others have said, don't be so hard on yourself about your capabilities, you are most certainly not an 'imposter' and you need to keep reminding yourself of it! I think every PhD is different, but at the start it's always a bit difficult to get into the way of things, once you lose the structure of an undergrad or MSc course it can be difficult to figure out how to fit in with your supervisors way of things, but you'll get there :)
Just remember to be kind to yourself, don't beat yourself up if you feel that your work isn't good enough/you're not working enough or whatever, if there is a problem your supervisors will let you know. Just draw up a rough structure for your first year at your first meeting, break that down into semesters, and then months/weeks and go over it with your supervisor once you've done this. If they are happy with it, so long as you keep to that and you've got something to show for what you're doing (even if it's going and saying this experiment/survey didn't work) then you are doing ok! And for your talk, don't stress about it, use it as an opportunity to put forward your ideas for the project, and see what others think, get ideas from other people in the department and they'll let you know if something is too ambitious or not not indepth enough. Always better to get these things sorted at the start then in final year! ;)