Will be enrolling soon!.....what does each year of a PhD actually consist of?!


Hi all,

I will become a regular poster on here now as I am finally on track for postgraduate study!

I managed to secure my dream job after completing my MEng last academic year......a role as a research assistant in an area that I am truly passionate about (Vehicle and Powertrain research), in a fantastic department who specialise in industrial collaborations. This will allow me to gain relevant work experience, whilst studying for my doctorate part-time, which I am expecting to register for in about a year, after the dust has settled (mutual agreement between my supervisor and I to give me time to acclimatise to the job, environment, and my newborn baby!!!). I'm also hoping that i will be able to submit within a reasonable time as the plan would be to align my PhD with an industrial project deliverable within the department. In the mean time, and as part of my preparation, I have been feeling out some of the experiences of the post-docs and current postgrads in the department in order to better understand the process of completing a PhD, and am extending my survey here to all that can help.

So, after the waffle (!), the main question is: what is your year-by-year activity split on a PhD? I have read some passing comments on here about the literature review taking the best part of the first year, the experimental work forming the next, and then writing up forming the latter (assuming a 3 year full time work load); is this true?

Any experiences are much appreciated, particularly in the engineering field.


Hi, I am not in Engineering, but have a similar story. First year as research assistant, second year enrolled as part time phD. My first year (without phd) was basically getting my methods up and running, the first true phd year was then ironing out some kinks and data generation. So I am now in the fortunate situation of thinking about publication in year two, which is normally unlikely in my area of research. If I understand it correct, you will be employed next year both as RA and as phD? Then please make sure that everybody knows "about the deal". I am constantly having troubles with collegues about what I work, when I work and how much I work.

Good luck!