full-time PhD + work in London ?

16-Aug-10, 16:58
by calvino
Avatar for calvino
posted about 10 years ago
Hi everyone,

I am about to start a full time PhD at a London Uni (humanities) this October.
I missed the esrc and ahrc deadlines and have only managed to secure a 'fees-only' studentship
from the department meaning that I will have to work throughout to support myself.

The studentship is only valid for full-time studies, so cannot switch to part-time, and I cannot afford to self-fund.

I love my subject but I am having second thoughts...
Has anyone on here been in this sort of situation? I think I will have to work minimum 20hrs p/w - is that even doable along f-t studies? London is expensive and most p-t jobs I am applying for (unsuccessful so far...) seem to pay little.
What sort of jobs did you find worked well for a full time student?

Any advice much appreciated!
16-Aug-10, 21:45
by Baltar
Avatar for Baltar
posted about 10 years ago
======= Date Modified 16 Aug 2010 21:46:05 =======
I've been working 20 hours per week so far and studying the rest of the time, which means no social life. But I guess if you're desparate to do a Phd (like me), then you'll cope. I've chosen a job that's flexible and which allows me to do overt-time when I have extra time and need extra cash. Try and look into teaching posts too. Most departments offer PhD students some teaching work on their undergraduate programmes. The benefits are two-fold: you earn cash and you gain teaching experience (which'll come in handy when you'll be job hunting after your PhD). Ask the research students' administrator/professor at your department if there are any such opportunities coming up. If there aren't any, let them know you're keen and ask them to keep you in mind as and when there is room for you to teach.
16-Aug-10, 22:34
edited about 28 seconds later
by Ubu
Avatar for Ubu
posted about 10 years ago
Have you considered private tutoring for GCSE, A-Level etc.? You can usually get up to £20/hour in London, and it fits around your timetable. My sister's doing it to fund her full-time MA, and it seems to work well for her.

Best luck, I'm sure you'll work something out.
17-Aug-10, 09:41
by calvino
Avatar for calvino
posted about 10 years ago
Yep - you're right. no luck with teaching jobs - there aren't any right now... I am starting to have second thoughts ...!
17-Aug-10, 13:45
edited about 28 seconds later
Avatar for queerface VIP
posted about 10 years ago

Well done on getting a fees scholarship! That at least should come in handy. As to whether you can PhD and work at the same time, it is really up to you. I do it and have found it to be fine, but I have an office job in a uni other than the one that I study in and can choose my days and hours more or less. I do 18 hours a week (2.5 days) and take home £800 per month. Some people can live quite comfortably on that. the question you should ask yourself is whether or not you can. Can you live with family (rent free)? If you want to live in a shared house in London, you might find something for £400 per month which gives you £100 per week to play with, which might help. Working office hours has meant for me that I have never felt lacking in social life because of having to work alongside study. I also do some PhD at work when it is quiet. Also working in a university places you in a good environment in which to acquire knowledge and skills to apply to future jobs.

It just depends on how motivated you are to study, to work, and to work when you have to study to study when you want to relax etc.
17-Aug-10, 14:18
edited a moment later
by Bwad
Avatar for Bwad
posted about 10 years ago
welcome to london. u want to beat the 20 hr thing? are you a hard core? do u really want ur Phd badly? can you stay 65 hrs without talking but reading and taking short breaks to work? can u stay without no social life? then if u can ave all that u will make it in london and probably make afew more coins and get ur Phd.(thats a security Job at construction site make cool 2500 pounds a month and pay no tax and get ur Phd on time) welcome
17-Aug-10, 23:39
by calvino
Avatar for calvino
posted about 10 years ago
Hi all,

thanks for suggestions
Q- your job is exactly what i was thinking...! well done on getting that! have you studied there before? i have a feeling that these sort of positions are advertised internally first, so they are hard to get..
I have been living in london for five years, i worked throughout my ba and ma 30h/pw but i feel that would be too much during phd (also that was m-f, evenings). i have lived on 800 pm for quite a while before i got promoted, so I feel confident i could for the next three years survive like this.
i am having real trouble finding a ptime job - do you find that employers (commercial sector) are not too keen on phd students for some reason?
i am not sure I would be able to make it as a security guard...!

18-Aug-10, 13:18
edited about 9 seconds later
Avatar for queerface VIP
posted about 10 years ago
======= Date Modified 18 Aug 2010 14:07:53 =======
============= Edited by a Moderator =============

Yes sometimes a lot of jobs are internally advertised but not all. I am working in a uni where I did not study, in a job that was externally advertised, before that, I worked in one where I did study and this job was internally advertised. Having a quick look on *edited by mods* and putting 'part time london' in the search engine, then searching for jobs under £30, 000 you get 44 returns including quite a few admin jobs. I have used this website to get all my jobs, so you should try it. I think it would be good to get a job in the right sector and then make contacts into other departments etc to move over to the academic side. I have never successfully worked for the private sector so I dont know if they have something against PhD students.

The problem at the moment is that there is a recruitment freeze at some universities to re-coup the money about to be lost under our new leaders. but this is certainly the time of year to be applying, as many fixed-term contract starts in Sept/Oct and, it is a quiet time of year for unis (usually -at the moment I am in A Level hell) and so when they get their house in order.

What discipline are you in? if it is vocational you may also be able to lecture?
18-Aug-10, 15:20
edited about 22 seconds later
Avatar for MatildaL
posted about 10 years ago
If you do take this on...and there are people on this thread that do it...may I recommend using all the time management skills and short-cuts at your disposal to make the most of your work time.

I was very ill at the beginning of my Phd and could only devote 2 or 3 hours a day-sometimes less- so I made sure that I used them very well.

I devoted some time at the beginning to....
...learning to speed-read ( essential in the humanities like me!)
...making sure I structured a system to organise my research ( so I did not waste time looking for lost stuff) ( There are plenty of books out there with titles such as "Organising and managing your research")
...using the Mind-map technique ( My disabilities uni advisor gave me some software for this...so you may be able to track some down)
...I found a quite place to study ( it is human nature to let yourself get distracted by others and more fun stuff!)
...I have voice-activated typing soft-ware ( again it take a little time to get used to in the beginning, but has save me HOURS!)
...later I discovered the Pomodoro Technique on this forum. It is amazing, and really helps focus.

I used to be quite conscientious, rather a swot, before the PHD. But now I can get some much more done than when I studied previously. Sorry if I am advising stuff that you already know!
Some management guru's use the phrase "work smarter, not harder". It can be achieved! I am close to completing my Thesis in 3 and a half years, despite not slogging away for hours each day ( and I don't work weekends either! That's family time)

Oh...and when I lived in London the commute killed me! If you can manage to work during that wasted time you will be doing well...or just use it for some thinking or relaxing/meditating time.


18-Aug-10, 23:59
Avatar for NapoleonofCrime
posted about 10 years ago
This is a tough one. I have just finished the first year of my PhD in London, self-funded (thankfully I'm on the AHRC bandwagon from October). I worked p/t for 12 hours per week in a bookshop, but my maintenance costs were minimal as I lived with my parents (in Outer London) for the year - is this an option for you? If you work in central London, you should be guaranteed a London weighting on top of your wages, meaning that your minimum hourly wage for shop or office work should be about £7.20 p/h.

You may also be able to apply for subject-specific funds, and/or funds linked to your hometown (e.g. when I did my Masters outside London, a London guild gave me a grant of £2500, based on my residency in a specific borough of London). The Postgraduate Studentships website is a good place to look, or ask the Finance Office of your prospective university. You may also be able to get some Teaching Assistant work at your university. Don't rule out the possibility of being able to secure AHRC or ESRC funds from your second year onwards - this is what happened for me. Good luck.
21-Aug-10, 20:51
by mehran
Avatar for mehran
posted about 10 years ago
to baltar,

i am about to embark on my self funded PhD, i read through ur message and found it beneficial in terms of some funding arrangement that you mentioned in ur mail, would u be able to tell me how to arrange a similar funding that u mentioned, and what sort of jobs would u advise on once u enrol onto a PhD
21-Aug-10, 21:07
by Slizor
Avatar for Slizor
posted about 10 years ago
I feel duty bound to mention the possibilities of subwardenships or residential tutorships. The terms of these vary between universities and I'm not sure if everywhere has them, but it's worth asking about because it can save you a lot in accomodation costs/bills/food. Plus it's simple, tell undergrads off for being undergrads and waking you up.


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