PhD application advise with poor second year results


Hi there,

First post on the site and really need some advice.

I've finished my 2nd year of biomedical sciences at the university of Portsmouth, and my results were massively variable. I've has high hopes to do a PhD since year one but only averaged 57% this year. A mixture of all assessments in a three week period at the end of the year instead of being split in summer and January along with no continuity in marking between lecturers has accumulatively given me a poor score.

Seeming that I'll need to be applying for PhD's at the start of the next semester what are my chances (honestly) of getting any offers. I am setting up a lab over the summer for some extra experience and have no doubt that the unit board meetings for this year will be interesting to say the least, but doubt my marks will change. I am also very confident that I will be able to push this up to 60%+ with my third year, but its only the second year results that will be assessed right?

Any advice you guys can give me on this would be brilliant as this is really stressing me out.


You don't need to go straight from undergrad into a PhD so you might be better served to wait to apply for another academic year until you have a stronger transcript at the end of your degree. If your academic record isn't going to be the strongest, some industrial experience might also be helpful. I'd strongly suggest having a talk with a tutor about your plans at the start of next term and get some advice on your plans.


I agree that it might be best to wait a year and then apply for PhDs. What result are you expecting to get over all? To have a chance of getting onto a PhD, you need to have a 2:1 - will this be achievable? Another thing you could consider is doing a masters first. If your undergrad degree result ends up lower than you'd hoped, then a good masters degree will put you in a better position if you still want to do a PhD after that.
I never considered doing a PhD, so after my 2:1 I chose to go on and do a masters (got a distinction) and then started work as a research assistant for a year or two. I then decided to go back and do a PhD - there is no way I would have got the PhD I ended up with if I had gone straight from my undergrad as I needed that extra stuff on my cv to make me stand out from the other candidates, as my average 2:1 wasn't good enough next to other candidates who had a 1st, but my masters and work experience tipped the balance in my favour. Not saying you can't get a PhD with a 2:1, as you can and plenty of people do, just wanted to describe my personal experience :-)


Apply for PhDs as you planned and see how it goes. At the same time apply for jobs/masters courses. If you get offered the PhD then great, if not then take the masters/job and apply again the next year. Do NOT procrastinate and worry and end up not applying for anything for a while and then end up unemployed at the end of your course. It is easier to get on a masters or to get a job if you are already employed or in education.


I agree with screamingaddabs. If you don't go straight from BSc to PhD it's not the end of the world. I wish someone had told me that, in fact, because it's what I did and I came to regret it. There's definitely a culture in biomedical sciences of expecting to forge straight through that path, but there can be benefits in taking a slightly slower route.

In the mean time, get as much as you can out of your summer project (the fact you're doing one is a good sign of commitment to a research career and should boost your CV) and make sure that you get a 2:1 in your BSc. Offers won't necessarily be based on your second year grades - if I remember rightly (and it was a while back), I was just given a conditional offer on the basis of getting a 2:1. I had a bit of a dodgy 2nd year myself due to personal circumstances - averaged a 2:1 but had a couple of ropey modules in there.

If doing a masters is something that might be of benefit, I would suggest considering an MRes which has a far higher research component than an MSc. Alternatively, some PhD programmes are 1+3 in funding i.e. the incorporate a masters into the first year.


I would seriously get on to a masters as everyone expressed on here. Bolster ur academic profile and, perhaps if you know the area you are willing to do research in, cater ur masters towards that. I think even a 2:1 is not enough to get into a PhD these days, in the UK especially. The MSc will also give u a flavour for the academic lifestyle, especially if you do your project/internship in research institute.