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which one is the best?

as I've been at one and I am currently studying at the other I will throw my two pence in :-)

I suppose answering the question of which one is the best is determined by how you measure the two universities against each other and there are many ways of doing this. I would think it is better to compare the two in specific feilds and courses rather than trying to give each university a blanket rating and using that as the basis for applying. There are a few league tables both national and international which try to do this but I would always take league tables with a grain of salt. no one doubts that Cambridge and Oxford are both world class universities but consider the differences between the rankings that both univerisities get in different league tables. The point being: there is no absolute way of measuring the two against one another. I think a lot of the time choosing one over the other can come down to personal preference.

I often hear things like: Cambridge is better in the sciences and Oxford in the arts. Although I tend to think that such sentiments are unfounded and rubbish.

Also consider that there are plenty of other univerisities in the UK which may be a as good if not better in what ever field you wish to do your PhD in.

Starting my university life again

Just out of interest, can you not graduate and get a job and have a social life then? Why do you feel the need to stay in University to have fun? Sounds like a primary reason for you considering a PhD is that you dont want to join the big bad world for what ever reason.

All I can say is this is the worst possible reason for signing on for a PhD, just because you want to stay in Uni and have fun

when you join the big bad world there is an infinite number of clubs and socities to join and many ways to meet people new people and have fun. so you can do all of the things you have missed out on by graduating, getting a job and exploring the big bad world

on the basis of  what you said, I would say: Do not do a PhD.

hope this helps

I've had enough

Bailey. I would think it's a very silly thing to go slag off someone elses grammer and spelling when your own isn't perfect.

Nearly every person I've ever heard requires some minor corrections after their PhD viva and it is usually in the form correcting spelling and grammer mistakes!!

I doubt your PhD thesis will be flawless. Assuming you pass it in the first place that it :-)

My viva was today, and ..... I did it :)

Congrats Dr K,

It is nice to know there is light at the end of the tunnel. I am very seriously considering jumping back into the fray ( dropped out of my first one ( supervisor problems and a rather boring project didnt help!!!) so it is nice to hear about people like you,

well done


Quitting PhD - Decided but scared

Sounds like you are making the right decision by leaving: The best piece of advice I can give is that whilst you are mulling over the decision to leave or not. Try not to let other people cloud your judgement too much ( friends, family, supervisor or who ever else that may be). I understand only to well the feelings of guilt: what will people think, who will I be letting down by leaving this? and so on... but just remember that you need to make the decision that is best for you, not for anyone else. If you are truly unhappy then leave and go get yourself a fulfilling and well paid job doing something else. If you can rescue a masters out of this then do so and then leave. If you feel you might like to return to academia at some point then you might want to think things through a little more before leaving....

I don't think dropping out of a PhD has had any negative consequences in my case but of course it is going to be different for every individual: it depends on the manner of your departure. No matter what happens I am sure you could get a good reference from someone in your department, if not your supervisor, then possibly your second supervisor.

Second Time Phders. How are you getting on?

Hi Smilodon,

The area of my MSc course is quite different than the PhD topic is worked on. I won't start any project work till after xmas so I have no idea who my supervisor will be. Needless to say that even though it is only a masters project I'm still going to be very cautious about choosing my supervisor as I have already found out the hard way just how important a role a supervisor can play in determining the success or failure of a student project.

I do have a pretty good idea as to what area I want to work in so ill just have to wait and see who offers a project in that area

Overall, I think the course I am doing is a good step to take. I was told a lot of people who did the course stayed on for doctorates after they finished the course, so there seems to be good opportunities for students to undertake PhDs after they finish. I am just really playing it by year. Id very happy accept an offer of a PhD studentship ( should I get such an offer ) provided I have satisfied myself that I enjoy the topic enough and have to aptitude to see it through.

Second Time Phders. How are you getting on?

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Hey there,

I'm just really interested to know how our second time PhDers are getting on as I know there are a few on this site.

After dropping out of my PhD last December, I took the year out and I am just about to start an MSc course ( Ive jumped from one Oxbridge uni to the other, so I have been very fortunate !! )

I am mulling over doing a PhD again ( provide all goes well with my Msc course and that I get a really good grade for my dissertation ) ) and I am sure there are people on this site considering doing the same thing. So its nice to hear from people who decided to go once more into the breach and are having a second crack at a PhD.

What has been the big change this time around: Topic? Supervisor? General working environment? Have things improved? Do you enjoy it more?

please dont be shy


Working in an unhappy environment

It sounds like you have the right attitude. keep it up(up) Ive been through the same shitty experience myself so I completely understand your situation. I dropped out and I'm currently doing an MSc. Aside from all the crap I had to put up with, I quit because I hated my topic and my supervisor was a two faced little S*&t, Otherwise I would of soldiered on. So I commend you for not quiting. Stick to your guns, focus on getting your PhD and don't get involved in petty lab politics. Fight the big battles, not the small ones:You will get there in the end. I know lots of people doing PhDs and I would describe them as a bright bunch of people but none of them strike me as being exceptionally intelligent. So from my own experience I would think that most people who sign on for PhD programs should be good enough to complete them ( although the path to completion can be a lot tougher for some people than others )

One important piece of advice that I will give you is that you should go see someone about this: your advisor, tutor or who ever in your department is responsible for dealing with student welfare.. You don't have to put up with bullying and there probably would be a good chance that you could change supervisor and project should you escalate your situation to your department and your situation doesn't improve afterwards. Consider that departments can lose funding if students drop out so it is usually preferable that a student changes to another supervisor rather than dropping out.

hope this helps. just send me a mail if you need any more advice 8-)

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

"The elements of style" does seem to be regarded as one the most useful references for good writing practice across academic disciplines. It is a guide on good writing practice in general not specifically for thesis writing. My undergraduate supervisor recommended it during my final year and I will have to say that it is a very useful little book ( wish I had actually payed attention to it when I was writing up my first year report ). " Write your Dissertation in 15 minutes a day " seems to be mentioned quite a lot on this forum so it could be worth a look as well.

I find that find most books on academic are rather rubbish!! I would agree with PC_Geek that the best way to learn good thesis writing is first of all to read PhD Dissertations in your field ( after all they have passed and so are up to the requisite standard and then write, write and write!!!

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

sm888 you sound to me like a f%^king ass*&^le. If you have nothing constructive to say then don't say it dipsh^t !!

Anyone thats a Demonoid member...


I don't suppose anyone could invite me to demonoid please? Looks really useful. You can always pop the invitation code in my inbox. It would be really appreciated :-)

Stay or Quit? PhD Worries - Advice Appreciated

Hey Csu,
I think your attitude is excellent. I think it is one of the best reasons to do a PhD: You want to push yourself to see how far you can go and I wish you the very best. I'll have to admit that it hurts when a PhD goes bust. I dropped out after first year and because of it I will always harbor some regrets, but I know that under the circumstances I made the right decision. I had never quit anything before and so it was a very hard decision to make. I do think first year is not such a bad time to leave, even if a person leaves after three or four years it is not the end of the world, but I can understand the heart-ache it can cause given the time a person has invested in the phd project.

If staying on and giving it your best shot will make you happier in the long-run then go for it all guns blazing!!! You should get a very good indication of where you stand at your first year review. Just try not to take it personally if your report is picked apart. The whole point of the review is to be critical of your research. i.e break it down do that it can be built back up. ( provided of course your supervisor want to you to be successful )

Even if your review doesn't go very well, you should be given a few months to get yourself up to scratch

How to go on?

Bonzo I take it your Irish? I say that cause Phil Lynott doesnt strike me as being very well known outside Ireland
Thin Lizzy are quite possibley the most under-rated band of all time!! Indeed there is a statue of Phil somewhere in Dublin!!!

Alex all I can say is best of look! It isnt the end of the world and Im sure you have made the right decision. I quit my PhD last december and it hasnt been the end of the world. no doubt you have a good academic record behind you, so you will succeed in your future career 8-)

Writing Papers and Supervisors

I would be interested to know how many people on this forum find writing the easy part of research!! I found quite difficult myself, But at the same time I have read plenty of PhD dissertations from very reputable institutions and Ive always been amazed at how simple the writing is! My main peace of advice is to read as many PhD thesis/ transfer reports as you can get your hands on. This will give you a good flavor of the appropriate structure, style and depth your writing should contain. You would be surprised at how many PhD thesis you will come across if you search for them in Google.

In addition, consider that there are quite a few very decent books out there which can help improve your writing. One thing that springs to mind is " the elements of style " which is a fairly seminal book on writing in general.

If you are that worried about your writing and your supervisor isn't being much help, then maybe there is someone else in your department who can give you advice and feedback? I think a lot of departments are required to give some kind of training on academic writing as well. correct me if I'm wrong.

What do people think about doing two Masters?

As I understand it masters courses are generally to facilitate conversion from one feild to another and/or as preparation for a PHd/ Job in industry or to delay the onset of the big bad world....

if you already have an Mres and want to do a PhD well then do a PhD. I can see the value in doing an mres before a PhD but doing two im not so sure. Sounds to me like you are insecure and feel like your not sure that you have what it takes.? or you are not sure if you really want to do a PhD?

if you are sure you want to do a PhD then i wouldnt bother with ba second Mres