Demotion from PhD to MPhil

07-Jul-15, 12:43
edited about 19 seconds later
by Moocher
Avatar for Moocher
posted about 4 years ago
Hello Everyone,

I finally decided to discontinue with my PhD and have transferred to an MPhil (social sciences). I desperately want to leave academia and move on (I have mental health problems and they've only worsened since my post-grad study, another story altogether), but I don't want to leave with nothing and have a huge gap on my CV, plus I've written up almost half of the PhD already.

Since demotion to MPhil, I recently asked my main supervisor if he could advise me on the MPhil and he said he didn't know much about them. I therefore don't have anyone else I can turn to for advice.

Does the MPhil require the same standard of work/analysis as a PhD? How much detail does an MPhil require? I know these are broad questions, but any advice would be appreciated. I've also been told that university Registry will inform me of the outcome of the MPhil viva, is that usually the case? I have a very limited time to submit the MPhil (40,000 words) and I'm starting to panic.

Many thanks in anticipation.
08-Jul-15, 13:07
edited about 1 hour later
by Penpen
Avatar for Penpen
posted about 4 years ago
Hi Moocher,

Sorry to hear about your mental health issues and I hope you are able to get some help for that in the future. But for now just be kind to yourself. As a fellow sufferer of mental health problems who had to downgrade to MPhil I assure you that you aren't alone!

The cliff notes version of the MPhil assessment is that is IS judged on a lower threshold than a PhD; it is considered to "address a hypothesis" or have "some originality" rather than making a significant contribution to research. In practice though this just means you produce two work/argument/experimental chapters rather than three and they are assessed a bit less rigorously. At my uni the maximum word limit for them is 60000, and mine will be about 45000.

This is a very doable size in a short time if you've already got the work and really apply yourself. All the best!

Edit: With regards to a viva, apparently it is up to the discretion of the external examiner to decide whether or not you have a viva. That's annoying I know...
08-Jul-15, 14:40
by Moocher
Avatar for Moocher
posted about 4 years ago
Hello Penpen,

Many thanks for your encouraging response; sounds as though we've been through a very similar PhD experience, but it's ultimately reassuring when it's pointed out that 'you're not the only one', so thank you.

An MPhil at my uni is 40,000 words, and I've managed to write more than that already (just not on the analysis/discussion chapters, which I've always been lacking in confidence with).

Like you suggest, I'm going to apply myself fully until I need to submit the thesis and then leave and find something more suited to my personality (I've finally learned and come to the conclusion that I dislike competitive working environments immensely).

Thanks again,

08-Jul-15, 14:46
edited about 21 seconds later
by Penpen
Avatar for Penpen
posted about 4 years ago
You're very welcome and I wish you the best of luck! :)

I agree that the competitive, critical and harsh working environment of modern academia doesn't really suit me either. I could probably write a whole other thesis on how unfair this can be on women, minorities and those who suffer from mental and physical health problems
12-Jan-18, 17:39
by melodie
Avatar for melodie
posted about 1 year ago
amen! I am also in a very similar situation, though still agonising on whether to downgrade from PhD to Mphil as my supervisor is very much against this due to the results of my PhD being wanted for his work and his other new students. But I am really reaching a crisis point in my mental health which was plummeted to severe levels during the course of the strain of the PhD, family illnesses and my own mental and physical illnesses.

I am afraid as someone who is less along the process of conversion than you, I don't know the answers, but I can assure you you are not alone in this sort of dilemma.
14-Jan-18, 02:45
edited about 59 minutes later
Avatar for newlease36
posted about 1 year ago
Dear Moocher,

I think it's a bit unfair , if you choose to downgrade for Phd to Mphill, you are not given any guidance on what is required. I feel this is supervisors job and if doesn't know what is required, he should find out, or least make that effort to direct you to someone who can help you. But hey supervisors!!

There's no point in arguing this point this point with your supervisor, but I would suggest going back to him and asking him where you can find the information you need and whom you can talk to.

If he still is unhelpful, I would find someone you can ask. You do need to know the rules and regulations regarding Mphill in your university and what is required of you. Sure it may less than Phd, but its not nothing nor does it mean substandard work will pass.

I admire you attitude to this whole thing... A famous psychologists said that adaptability in the face of change is true marker of intelligence and psychological health. So i take that to mean that things will happen- good and bad, and its how you deal with them and adapt that matters.

there is definitely life beyond academia.I know I had idealised version of academia and now I'm quite disillusioned by it all.


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