I have just got my final grade back for my MSc in molecular medicine from bath university and have only just managed to get over 58% so a pass, I also have a 2:1/65% in veterinary biosciences from Aberystwyth university. I currently work full time at a microbiology lab with experience in pathogen culturing and many microbiological techniques and run my own team at the company.
Given how terrible this year has been, I am further devastated by the news that I have done so poorly in my master's.
I am just wondering what are my options regarding a PhD? I know that getting funding will be hard but is there any tips you can give me to improve my chances?
Any help would be massively appreciated.
If you are really set on getting a PhD, you could first do an M.Res (Masters by research). That way you'll have 1 (sometimes 2) research projects to demonstrate your research abilities. Do these well and you shouldn't have trouble applying after you've completed it.
It's definitely not impossible, and I disagree that the 2:1 at undergrad is a major barrier as well. Admittedly if you're trying to get into a world-leading group at a top uni, it's probably the case that the majority of applicants will have 1sts/distinctions/know the right people from Eton. But for the remaining 95% of opportunities, you would likely meet the requirements to get through the initial sift, and it will be more down to how you perform at interview. Most experienced academics have learnt (often the hard way) a student with top grades is not automatically the best PhD candidate - especially if they have top grades because they're really good at exam technique and working to short, clear, assessed objectives; both of which are almost irrelevant to a PhD.
If you come across as knowledgeable, passionate, and can explain away the grade (or just say you have an MSc, which is true, and should be grounded in the kinda-ridiculous-when-you-think-about-it fact that what you feel was an awful result was only 12% off a distinction), you will be in good stead.
It's probably worth noting you would substantially increase your chances if you're not constrained to looking in the UK.
You're also in the fortunate position of having a full-time job, so you can take the time to keep applying. If you do this, and accept the odds of success per application are going to sit around 5%, then you'll recognize it will take patience but is very unlikely to be a lost cause.
Btw it seems a really bad idea to do a 2nd self-funded masters in the hopes of getting a higher grade. That's based on some really risky assumptions (that you'll get one, and that it will make the difference). It's not just £3k you're gambling but a year of lost earnings while you study. I'd put the £3k on a roulette table and shoot for self-funding a PhD with the winnings before doing that...
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