Working whilst doing PhD


Hi all,

I am in my late 20s and have just started a PhD at a good London uni funded by a RC. My PhD project was inspired partly by the role I've had for past four years in the NHS working mainly in research and innovation spread and since starting in the NHS I have completed two MSc programmes whilst keeping my role nearly full time in order to support myself financially (none of the MSc progs were funded).

Now I'm about to start PhD I accepted that I would need to significantly reduce my hours, however the stipend, although with London weighting, is nowhere near enough to cover my living expenses so I always knew I'd have to work part time. My NHS directors have agreed to keep me on part time for 18 hours a week initially and then review later in the year. It's a high paid job (£50k full time equivalent) but most of all it allows to network with a multitude of relevant stakeholders I may wish to collaborate or work for in the future. Having attended an induction for other funded students yesterday, it's clear that everyone agreed the stipend is not enough to live off, and many were either looking for work or others who had established careers (clinicians/teachers) were working part time 1/2 days per week.

To me it makes sense to make an effort to keep my current NHS role as it's related to my field of study, it pays well, and allows me to attend events and network with important people/organisations I would have difficulty engaging otherwise. Other younger students were talking about working in bars or doing tutoring/ other university small jobs to top up their stipend which if fine, however I know that working at the university doing undergrad teaching can be very time consuming for not much pay. I accept that my decision to work in NHS will probably affect my ability to get involved in other opportunities at the university such as lecturing or supervising, but I am ok with this for now as I am not sure I want to work solely in academia, and that I will still work in industry/ practice post PhD.

Can I please find out from others who did a PhD who had a previous profession and how they went about this? Am I being foolish thinking I can juggle the two?


I do not have this experience but I think it should be OK. Probably 18 hours is too much. Most importantly, do not waste your valuable hours. If you spend 20 hours at PhD work, concentrate and spend 20 efficient hours not just hanging around like some PhD students. do.


We had a 12 hour limit on outside work during my PhD. Over that and funding could be withdrawn. It won't be possible at all if you want to submit on time so be careful towards the end of your project.


Thanks both. For now I'm only thinking about Y1 and will review as it goes along. I completely understand that at some point I'll likely have t reduce further/ want to get involved in other academic activities or take a complete hiatus in order to finish up on time as I don't want to go over the funding period too much if possible. I'm just wondering how people with stable careers have managed to juggle this? Wanting to keep their registrations etc. how do you do it all?!


The solution for those I know in that position has been a professional doctorate programme rather than a PhD. But I'd agree with others that your scenario looks unfeasible.


I was working full time while doing my PhD part time. Added to that, I lived in a country quite away from the UK where I did my PhD, have a native language ither than English and my work had nothing to do with my research! But... I did it! I managed to finish my PhD with very minor corrections. I needed to have a programm and stick to it as much as possible. Also, I had almost all of my weekends free, because otherwise I wouldn’t have made it.
I think it is possible if you want it!