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PhD at 21


I did my BSc, graduated at 21 and went straight into my PhD in the October - I don't think anyone in my department said 'you're HOW old?' as it's common practice to accept students straight from Bachelors.

I did find a few people accused me of 'lying' when I told them what I did... but that's their issue if they didn't believe me. I've had 2 people also accuse me of 'lying' about my title as someone whose 25 'couldn't possibly' have a PhD, but again... bothered? sod them.

I found the transition OK - the thing I found the hardest was writing my thesis as I didn't find it easy to write in the style needed and 'prove' every single statement I made. If I did my time again.. I would make damn sure I recorded where each paper I read came from... and practise more academic 'writing' by trying to publish more papers.

I know a lot of people who have done the same as you... and most of them were absolutely fine :)

Do you need a masters to do a PHD?

I did a PhD and only did a BSc first.. I think it depends on the grade you get and the subject you are planning on doing a PhD in.

Made to Fall (Ph.D. Unsatisfactory)

It is possible to change Supervisors - two of my friends PhD students actually switched from him after an argument to my own Supervisor.

However, you need to find someone who is willing to go up against your evil Supervisor - as effectively they will be named as 'first supervisor' or your PhD and if none of them have the balls to go up against him - you might find yourself against a brick wall.

Currently, you need facts, not feelings.

Document everything - when you were insulted in the lab - when this happened, who witnessed it - are there any people who would be willing to testify to this? this, at the very least is bullying. If you have sent a lot of emails to your supervisor and not got any replies .... document the lack of supervision.. the dates you emailed him ... how many times .. how many times you got a reply .... everything.

Write down your publications, write down dates, where they were published - demonstrate your work has been peer-reviewed at conferences - all facts

Don't meet saying ' I feel this , and I'm annoyed' - present the facts in a very logical way and *prove* you have been victimised - very much like your viva... 'proof' is everything.

Eligible for EPSRC funding with a 2.1?

I got a 2:1 at BSc level and got funding from the EPSRC to do a computer science PhD.

I know someone who got a 2:2 at BSc level and even she got funding....

Perhaps it depends on the area?

Is it unrealistic for someone of a working class background to become a lecturer ?

My mate used to be a bin man.... he then decided to go to, uni get a first at his BSc, a PhD and is now a Senior lecturer.. He has done pretty well for himself :p

Is this bullying?

If she is nothing to do with your PhD and just another member in the department, I would tell her where to go.

My supervisor was married and his wife had her own PhD students in the same department.. his PhD students and hers all shared the same office.

Our office was fantastic, but she would come in, be a total cow to some of my friends as she was their supervisor and then try and do the same to me - She tried it once.... she didn't try it again.

Being rude and obnoxious should not be tolerated, whether in academia or in the work place - you can either try and ignore it.. or ask her straight out ' I notice you can sometimes be quite hostile towards me (make sure you have evidence to back it up) can I possibly ask, have I done something to offend you?' - be polite and assure her all you want to do is create a good working environment - then, she has the option of telling you why she is being a cow.... or stop it.

And if she doesn't.. I'd probably just blatently ignore her and refuse to talk to her if she's that rude.

Living costs in Reading

Sibly Hall was always the cheapest when I was there... 25 min walk from campus....

Living costs in Reading

' Do I get this right that first of all you got no financial support for attend a conference? '

Well, I didn't get any financial support in my stipend... so I told my Supervisor - pay for expenses to go to conferences, else I'm not going....

Thankfully he was a nice bloke so put aside some of his budget to send us to conferences he felt were good to go to.

Living costs in Reading

Hi... I live in Reading and did a PhD at the University of Reading. I lived with my boyfriend in a house and we paid £650 rent a month - my stipend was slightly lower than yours as it goes up each year by £500 or so and I finished my PhD a little while ago. Reading is expensive but I actually think £325 a month is pretty good - as for conferences, I refused to go unless my supervisor allowed me to expense it... I certainly wouldn't have paid for conference travel myself.

It is possible to live on that, however I think seeing your boyfriend in Austria every 6 weeks will eat into your finances quite a lot.

We both topped up our cash working labs / marking undergrad work and being a student mentor for disabled students... perhaps that's worth looking into? I know the exams office are usually looking for people to invigilate and write exams for disabled students... and it pays quite well..

How flexible is the flexible working?

My PhD was in computer science as well and I worked about 35-40 hours a week for 3 years.... sometimes less though - and I think it was the times I worked 'less' which is why I went over my 3 years.

My Supervisor was happy for me to work wherever... my biggest concern was having internet access so if it went down at home, I'd go in.. and if it went down at Uni.. I'd go home etc...

It does depend and awful lot on your supervisor but what I would say is... make sure your face is known around your department - I'd suggest going in one day a week, meet people, talk to people in your department... although I don't like networking to 'use' people... I published some papers with others in my department and made some friends at the same time! 8-)

3 yr PhD: A Myth (or not) ?

Quote From billclinton:

Dont do it. PhD is bottom. Waste of time and money.

Unless you get funding .. in which case it's 3 plus years of not working.. using someone elses cash... regular pub trips AND the cool title of 'Dr'... what more can anyone ask for? 8-)

3 yr PhD: A Myth (or not) ?

It took me 4.5 years from start to graduate. 3 years full time and then another 1 year 2 months to submit my thesis. I thought I *had* done it in the 3 years.. however my 2nd supervisor, when he looked at my thesis told me it was awful and I would have to re-write large chunks of it.

I managed 4 publications in the 3 years full time - all of which I had to look around for and do myself as my 1st Supervisor seemed awfully dis-interested. I would personally just try and aim for 1-2 a year, my boyfriend managed 15 in his 3 years (I kid you not.. and most are IEEE journals and stuff so pretty darn amazing) .. however HE went over his 3 years due to just writing papers with his supervisor and he finished in 4 years.

Problems with supervisor

My knowledge is from computer science... but from what I know about BSc / MEng degrees is... it depends entirely on what modules you have done.

In our University, an MSc / MEng was literally just another year at Uni with more 3rd year modules... therefore if the Masters students did exactly the same or similar options to the BSc students... and dropped out half way through their 4th year.. they still got awarded the BSc as they had done the same amount of work.

On the other hand, if, in the 3rd year.. the Masters students did other modules which didn't add up to the same amount of points or had to do 'extra' modules which would contribute to their Masters degree but not their BSc, then they had to finish to be awarded a degree.

Either way... I would get your butt to your tutor in your department or contact someone straight away in the examinations office and ask where you stand.

You would have to pay back your student loan installment if you drop out and I *think* you'd have to pay it back more quickly than you would should you have stayed.

If you are that miserable.. obviously you know what to do - however if you think you can cope with the moron in the lab for a few more months, I would suggest you try and stick at it - The graduate market is very competative and a Masters can be a clinching deal, should all other candidates only have a BSc.

Good luck.

How to treat PhD like a job and not a personal quest

Quote From bonzo:

PC_Geek - were we seperated @ birth?

If we were seperated at birth, that would be cool as I'd finally have a brother instead of being the eldest of 4 daughters :p

I did computer science BSc and PhD and oddly, in my BSc I didn't get pulled up on grammar at all - in all fairness it *wasn't* grammar... more 'technique'

For example - For ever single statement I wrote in my thesis, my 2nd supervisor would write ' Reference' .. or ' How can you back this up?' Even now, at work... when I write emails or process documents I think 'Can I justify this?' - it was a very useful thing to 'get into the habit of'

Also... for each paragraph - do I make a point? I had loads of red pen through parts of mine with the word ' waffle' on them or ' yeah but no but yeah but CRAP!' (good thing he is a good friend of mine) ... It was flipping tough and I have never cried so much through sheer *frustration* than I did in my last year of editing - but... it was 100% worth it.

You seem to have a very non-serious attitude to your PhD and personally, I would say - don't ever lose that. There are so many academics who seem to have their head firmly inserted up their rectum and others who think that once you have the 'esteemed' title of 'Dr'.. you have to act a certain way - Hell no. I was a bit of a muppet and had I not been so stubborn and listened to my 1st Supervisors advice slightly more or seen how my office mates were progressing, I don't think I would have gone over by quite so long.... so in hindsight, I should have given the PhD process more respect and worked *slightly* harder.

But sacrificing my weekends? my entire social life? No.. and that's one thing I don't regret - I'd strike a balance - maybe work 1 weekend out of 4... maybe work late 1-2 nights a week if needed.... treat it with respect but respect your own personality and if you don't like the way something is working - tell them.

I'm currently an IT Consultant - it's cool... pros and cons... people don't know I have a PhD as it's not really needed here and isn't on anything... Life is good though and I don't regret doing one at all (up)

Good luck, and should you ever want some chavvy PhD support, feel free to ask ;-)

How to treat PhD like a job and not a personal quest


I do Tai Chi too... mostly Chen style.. been doing it for years but prefer to play with swords than calm down using it :-)

Anyhoo... I was probably one of the least focussed PhD students my Supervisor ever had. I knew I wanted to finish it and knew I would never quit... but I didn't kiss arse, took very little seriously and didn't work beyond 5pm any day and certainly not at weekends.

However.. when I thought I would submit in October '06, I was told my thesis was all over the place and I would have to re-write sections before I could submit it... and I finally submitted it in Feb '08 - over a year later. Why? as I apparantly 'wrote like a chav' (my 2nd Supervisors words, not mine) .. and I know what he means.

It is really, really hard to write 'academically', especially if you actually have a life and aren't constantly anal about things - what I found useful was reading 'The Elements of Style' (a very mini book with some very good tips) and just reading other peoples thesis' and papers in a similar area to mine.

Be prepare to re-write again... and again... and again.. but never give up.

I went over my 3 years as I think I took the PhD a little *too* lightly... and I still think re-writing my thesis whilst working full time was the hardest thing I ever did, hence why I would suggest to you that every day you have a relatively good idea of what you want to achieve - I didn't and spent way too many nights in the pub.