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So, the festive season is upon us! For many students, it will mean a break but for most postgraduate students, it is going to have to combine studying and trying to enjoy the holidays.
I remember only too well the dilemma that was upon me every year when I was an MPhil and then a PhD student: To study or not to study! Packing my suitcase before going home was always a bit of a ritual, weighing out space for books or journal articles (these were the days before electronic journals!) and other things I needed, like clothes! To lighten my conscience, I would inevitably pack more journal articles than I would realistically read, feel guilty that I hadn’t looked at them as they stayed at the bottom of said suitcase and on the last day or in the plane, take them out to finally have a cursory look to convince myself I had done some work!

I remember one of the rare occasions when I decided that I wouldn’t take anything and use the space more effectively (to pack Christmas presents for example) and to allow myself a break. This resulted in convincing myself every morning that I could have and would have read one article a day!

So is there any compromise to this? Well, as I once advocated in an article on the Average PhD Week, having a break or taking annual leave, the latter being more relevant to PhD students, can be very productive. Yes, revising for your Masters exams and reading articles for your PhD is important, but a well-rested student is more likely to sustain their motivation levels.

Why not draw a timetable for the Christmas holiday and have “on-days” as well as “off-days”. Set yourself realistic goals for each of the “on-days”, for example: reading 2 articles or 1 hour of research/note-making or tidying your existing notes or 1 hour of research on potential Masters dissertation topics or 2 hours on revising your notes.
As for myself, my PhD is far behind me but I still find myself feeling guilty for not doing work over the holidays (that’s one of the downside of being a freelance translator!) but at least this blog is finished! And I fully intend to be off Christmas eve, Christmas and my favourite UK holiday (we, French people, do not have any equivalent to it), Boxing day!

Happy New Year!

Are there masters available in the UK with the option to study modules abroad??

FindAMasters have a useful guide to Masters in Australia:

In terms of doing a UK Masters with opportunities to study abroad, Erasmus Mundus programmes are really good. They are delivered in partnership between several universities in Europe (and beyond) and offer students the opportunity to study in 2 or more universities. They do tend to take longer that the traditional 12-month UK masters.
More information on Erasmus Mundus can be found on:

Mismanaged PhD: Any advice?

In any case, it is quite common for postdocs or more senior researchers to change the focus of their research after their PhD, even when they enjoyed the topic to begin with. It is just the way research works. You do a project, you find something and it leads you somewhere and not necessarily where you thought it might take you. Unless the area your supervisor proposed and what you want to do in the future are completely different (by that I mean different fields altogether), I would concentrate on finishing your PhD under the supervision of something who is interested in your work, especially if you don't have a lot of time.

Whatever you decide, good luck!

Looking for a PhD in "neuroethics"
Let me get this straight - Dr title.

Quote From TreeofLife:
Personally I can't wait to get the Dr title and I shall definitely be using it. I want to stay in academia anyway so maybe it's more relevant but even if it's not I will have earned it and therefore will be using it :)

I am with you on that one. I worked hard for my PhD, it was a major achievement and I do use the title (Just like you TreeofLife I couldn't wait to get that title!). I don't know whether it is superfluous outside of an academic environment but I can't think of one occasion it has been detrimental. I am no longer a researcher but I do work in a university setting and I think it does carry some weight.

particpants needed for MSc dissertation!

Done too!

Feeling pulled apart!

That's not a great position to be in, nor is it conducive to good research. I wrote about this problem a few months ago. This is an extract from the article: " Is it a clash of personality or academic disagreements which are causing friction? If they just don't like each other, leave them to it and don't take sides. Meet with them separately and discuss things by e-mails where they are both copied in. However, if they disagree on the research, perhaps because they are from two different disciplines, then listen carefully to what each has to say but don't feel you have to go with both their ideas. In some cases, a comparative approach to the research can be interesting but make your own mind. It is YOUR PhD after all!"
I hope this is helpful. Full article available at:

Masters linking technology (IT) and management

Have you tried searching for e-business Masters?

just submitted my PhD research proposal

Hi there,
Below are some of my Golden Rules of making first contact
• Hook them! By that I mean tell them something interesting (and not just obvious flattery!) about you, your research interest and how it matches with their own expertise. For example, you may wish to summarise your research proposal in an abstract which they may be more inclined to read than a 20-page full proposal.
• Avoid sending a mass email to dozens of universities and personalise your emails.
• Don’t demand an immediate response or hassle the people you contacted too soon (although your email should be answered).
• If you have the information, cc' in the graduate school administrator and/or the person in charge of postgraduate recruitment. This will increase your chances of getting a reply.

The reality
Not all academics will answer. This is not personal, it is just because…. they’re busy, they have too many students, they’re not sure your research topic is the right one, they’re about to retire…… However, if you have potential, sincere research ambitions and an interesting topic/project you want to research, it will be a very good basis for your search in a supervisor.
Best of luck,

PhD studies directly after a BA

Sorry Historian, I am not familiar with Finnish qualifications to say for sure but examples I found might help:


Once again I was reading discussion threads/blogs on the Postgrad Forum, where I often get inspiration for my writing. After all, as a professional in Higher Education, I want to write about what is important to students (well, at least of interest to them). There was a blog about famous people with Masters and PhDs which gave some humorous examples and I thought it merited further research. What (pleasantly) surprised me was the array of disciplines studied by celebrities with higher qualifications. I won’t discuss well-known politicians and scientists, here, as many of them have degrees in their area of work. There are notable exceptions, though: George Bush who has a Masters of Business Administration (which raises a few questions!); Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister, who was a chemist; George Pompidou, former French President, who had studied literature and; Newton who was a philosopher.

Below is a list of brainy famous peeps, actors, artistes and sports personalities, who before deciding that the limelight was their preferred career destination undertook postgraduate studies. Some might actually surprise you! Most of them have pulled stunts that are best not attempted at home, postgrad boys and girls, unless you are sure you can make it in show business!
• Brian May, Queen’s guitarist, didn’t set out to become a music legend. In fact, he studied physics, started a PhD and….. took a 30 year leave of absence before graduating with his doctorate from Imperial College London. Now, I am no expert but I don’t think this is the recommended approach to finishing a PhD AND that's got to make a dent in Imperial's completion rate stats!
• Action movie villain, Dolph Lundgren (if you were born after 1990, don’t worry if you don’t know who he is!) has a Masters in chemical engineering from the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden but gave up his PhD despite being a Fullbright scholar. Was it just a ticket to Holywood or did he just manage to find the chemical formula that turns things into gold?
• Miuccia Prada of the Prada fashion house has a PhD in political science which in Italian fashion may be very helpful (Hmmm, the Devil wears a PhD gown...).
• A man after my own heart and fellow molecular biologist, lead singer of Offspring, Dexter Holland (was that really the name on his diploma?) has a Masters in the subject and attempted to gain a PhD in the same discipline. However, the appeal of show business proved more attractive and he quit his PhD in favour of his music. A wise financial move, it seems. As for the quality of the artistic output, I'll let you be the judge!
• Silence of the Lambs star and one of my favourite actresses, Jodie Foster has a Masters in English Literature. Did you also know that, if you watch her films in Spanish or French (I know, some of us are that weird), she actually dubs her own movies? Her father being a diplomat, she gained trilingual fluency whilst growing up abroad.
• James Franco, of 27 hours and Spiderman movies, actually has a PhD in English Literature which will probably prove helpful if he decides to use his acting talent on a theatre stage.
• Another PhD in Literature graduate (I knew there was some money in it….), Philippa Gregory graduated from Edinburgh University, Scotland before writing best-sellers such as The Other Boleyn Girl.
• Sterling Morrison, co-founder and guitarist of rock band Velvet Underground, Morrison was awarded a PhD in medieval studies at the University of Texas at Austin in 1971, although those of you in know will notice that means he did so after the band split.
• In addition to his talents on a basketball court, Shaquille O’Neal has a PhD in Education from Barry University. What is even more impressive is that he did so mostly through online/distance learning. His PhD explored how company bosses use humour in the workplace (cue, see my blog on “Weird Science”) and with a laugh like his, he was well-placed to conduct that research project.
• Art Garfunkel, who has lived and performed in Paul Simon’s shadow, is actually a very clever cookie, with a bachelor’s degree in art history AND a master’s degree in mathematics.
• One of the most attractive presenters on British television, University of Manchester’s, Professor Brian Cox managed to combine his research in astrophysics with a successful music career, being the keyboard player for the popular 90’s Irish pop band D:Ream.
What lessons can we draw from this?
 That postgraduate education is a catalyst for artistic and performance sports success?
 That postgraduate degrees provide skills which can be useful in non-academic pursuits (a bit tenuous in the context of this blog)
 That universities worldwide are hotbeds for the icons of future generations?
Well a bit of all of this really but the more fundamental point here is about the value of postgraduate degrees. Joking aside and because realistically, not many postgrads will end up being superstars, are postgraduate degrees worth the investment in time and money? I love the quote “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest” from an unknown author but commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin. Is it however that the higher the qualifications and hence the more significant the investment, the greater the returns? Is there a linear correlation?
There are many reasons for doing a Masters or a PhD, each as valid as the other. There is nothing wrong with studying a subject about which you are passionate and studying it in more-depth or in a more specialised way makes perfect sense. People don’t generally do a Masters degree or a PhD because they want to be perpetual students. First of all, postgraduate studies are not easy! The pace and the amount of (self) study is a definite step-up from undergraduate studies.
A Masters might be your preparation for a research degree and perhaps even an academic career. In addition, for a number of professions outside of academia, such as engineering, postgraduate qualifications are the gold standard of that industry so in essence, a career requirement. In many countries a Masters is now the norm so something to keep in mind if you want a job overseas. Despite the fact you may read that employers value experience more, it may be of interest for you to know that the average unemployment rate of postgraduates is generally slightly lower than those with a bachelor’s degree.
Postgraduate degrees will provide you with opportunities to gain practical experience and therefore to enhance your employability. It will make you stand out, but make sure you make the most of internships, summer expeditions, placements and periods of study abroad. Not everyone who interviews you will have done a postgrad and they may have a certain perception of higher degrees. Make sure you know how to demonstrate to employers why you chose to do a Masters degree (passion will go a long way), how it is relevant to the job/sector you want to work in and what skills your postgrad has given you over and above your undergraduate degree.
You are doing a postgrad because you want a higher starting salary? Well, the official statistics are with you on that one and in the States, employees with a higher degree command higher starting salaries. However, there are differences between sectors and between professions. Starting salaries are only one measure and your postgrad qualifications may have a long-term effect on your career achievements. Armed with your masters or PhD, will you have more confidence to climb the career ladder? After all, all that stands between the graduate and the top of the ladder is the ladder itself. And, as the above have shown, it needn’t be a different ladder to reach the stars!

PhD studies directly after a BA

There are Masters by Research available for most subject areas. A quick searh on FindAMasters found 31 MRes in the UK:

PhD studies directly after a BA

Some universities in the UK offer Masters by Research which are essentially 100% research (very little requried coursework) and for exceptional students, this may count towards the first year of a PhD (at which point your registration is changed to a PhD and you never graduate with the MRes) . It's not common but it happens. In all cases, a MRes is a good preparation for a PhD and you can apply for an MRes directly with a BA (as long as you have research proposal).

Life after PhD

Quote From nathaliephd:
I had a similar experience and actually worked as a postdoc for while which was bad but just not for me. I have a blog post on it (ignore the gender issue references):
I am really happy about my career choice now and while I miss the lab sometimes, working in university admin means I still get a lot of the buzz from being in an academic environment.

Cheers, good luck for the end of your Phd and beyond,

I actually meant to say "which wasn't bad"! Oops - should proofread before posting. :)

How did you choose where to do your PhD?

Thank everyone. Really appreciate your input!