There are fewer PhDs outside of DTPs now, it's true. I'm in biology as well, so it's probably a bit different to SS. The main websites are findaphd.com and jobs.ac.uk. Also look at the info on department web pages. Definitely apply for more than one things as DTPs are really competitive as well.
I am in my 50’s. First degree early 1980’s was a 3rd. Masters early 90’s was a pass.
First degree loosely relates to the subject matter of my PhD proposal. Masters is unrelated.
I have been made two offers. One is to be supervised by a Professor with 30 years experience who described my proposal as “an accomplished piece of work”.
Work that one out...
Some of the comments in this thread reference grades have brought a wry smile to my face!
I have a 3rd in my first degree attained 34 years ago - and a pass in my Masters (23 years ago) - and at 56 years of age have to date received THREE offers from Universities in the UK.
One Professor (highly qualified (Oxbridge/Harvard)) and with around 40 years of experience, in particular emailed and told me that my proposal was "an accomplished piece of work" and that he would be "delighted" to supervise me.
And, the subject matter of the proposal is an area that I have no recent academic nor work experience in.
And, finally, even at my age and with what some on here would doubtless consider to be inappropriate, and perhaps even appalling grades, I am confident that I will attain a PhD...
Firstly, I apologise for using the word "appalling". I would like to put forward my experiences to date as they may be useful for others - particularly those with lower grades:
1. Grades: I am very conscious that my grades do not match the level that is generally acceptable to most Universities - most stating that one would be expected to have a 2:1 or higher. The approach I hav etaken in view of the aforementioned has been to approach potential supervisors before submitting formal applications.
Of the supervisors that have seen my proposal and which at least purport to have the relevant experience to supervise me, not one has been concerned about my grades - and in fact one actually stated that "a 3rd back in 1983 is probably equivalent to a 2:1 today".
2. Supervisors: I have been speaking at length with a senior lecturer at a University who has been giving me "independent" advice (he is not a potental supervisor, although his particular experience is loosely connected to my specific area of study). He himself completed a PhD many years ago having attained a 2:2 - and therefore did not see my 3rd as a bar to being accepted to start a PhD. His advice has been:
- carefully consider any supervisor - and in fact only accept any offer if there are at least two supervisors to be involved
- try and establish as best one can, that the supervisors are going to be around for the duration of one's studies (in my case, 6 years as I will be part-time).
- try and be, geographically, in a position to regularly meet face-to-face with supervisors rather than relying on communications via email, Skype etc.
Acting on the above advice, I have spent a not inconsiderable length of time researching supervisors and in fact your comment pm133 regarding "sweet nothings" struck a chord - and having researched the Professor I referred to, I will certainly not be accepting his/his University's offer as I discovered a number of negative things!!
Getting to the point I am at today has been tough - I have spent many hours re-drafting my proposal.
In terms of supervisor selection it really is a minefield. I just hope that I make the right decision - and I take on board your comments pm133 that I do not at this point in time know how I will cope until I start.
I would welcome your (and any other) comments on what to expect?
[quote]Quote From bewildered:
I work in a faculty with the same entry requirements as Birmingham. We are not allowed to accept a student with your grades without special permission from the dean, who very rarely agrees. This is because the statistics tell us that such students rarely manage to complete a PhD.
Do you know where I might find the statistics you refer to please?
I think it is important to bear in mind that different unis have different procedures. My advice would be never don't try something just because you don't meet the criteria. You may just get in. And if you don't... never give up... even if it does end up meaning that you need to do a masters again and get a better grade to end up being able to pursue your goal. You'll get there in the end if it is what you want.
I completed my PhD in a psychology relevant year a few years ago at a top 25 university.
I obtained my PhD scholarship/studentships with a 2.2 in my psychology undergraduate degree and two psychology master degrees (both with merits and including a masters at UCL.
I've worked as a postdoctoral researcher in various universities (including UCL) and last week was interviewed for a lecturer in psychology position. I didn't get this post, but their considering me for another role in the department. I'm also due to qualify as a practitioner psychologist early next year.
I suspect I'm very much the exception, but I understand the difficulties faced by a candidate with a 2.2. It can be very soul destroying and disheartening to be faced with the 2.1 only barrier, regardless of considering postgraduate qualifications. Even now, there's some universities and courses that would reject me outright because of my 2.2, but fortunately, there are definitely other universities with a more flexible and inclusive attitude. I just wanted to reach out to the OP that it might be possible to secure competitive positions, but be prepared to think laterally, send out speculative emails and really sell your skills and relevant experience.
My 2.2 isn't so much a barrier anymore (especially given my PhD). I certainly never mention it if at all possible (I typically cite second class honours rather than a 2.2) but these sorts of discussions highlights it for me. For me, I almost feels like a sense of shame for my undergraduate degrees but I'm also quick to challenge this with all my postgraduate accomplishments.
Best of luck OP
I have been speaking at length with a senior lecturer post doc of many years standing and he is of the opinion that grades are not that relevant and that applications should be considered taking into account many other factors.
That is seemingly what has happened in my case.
I have had rejections - but none based on the class of my degree - the majority have been simply that the institutions concerned have not had suitable supervisors.
In reality, grades are relevant - especially when it comes to them parting with the bucks. They are part of the triage procedure. They serve as an indicator (merely an indicator, not a guarantee...) of the person's ability to perform well - and consistently - at a higher level. So they can't just be ignored/seen as irrelevant. They are part of the information that will help form the judgment about whether to accept/fund.
But that doesn't mean you're screwed if you are less than happy with your grades/don't meet the criteria. You just have to go for it!
I know someone who got into a RG uni for her BSc with no A levels (3 or 4 A/B grades including one in particular subjects were required). She managed to get on the course and ended up getting both her undergrad and masters with a Distinction. She had worked before going to uni and had good references about her abilities and performance in the workplace, which must have carried some weight. Plus she had shown she had held down a job for a good few years. Grades aren't everything. But you have to be prepared to be persistent and resilient to first get in so that you can prove that!
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