MA by Research Doctoral Upgrade Advice

18-Dec-17, 09:38
edited about 4 seconds later
by DanBuck
Avatar for DanBuck
posted about 3 years ago
Hi guys,

I'd appreciate any thoughts on my situation: I'm currently studying for an MA by Research (not to be confused with an MRes!). It's a research-only MA, so it's just me and my 40,000 word thesis. My university offers the opportunity to "upgrade" it to a PhD in March (after tweaking the parameters of the thesis, of course) and for obvious reasons that's a compelling idea-- it gets me that sweet, sweet doctorate earlier, and it works out a bit cheaper in the long run, since my MA fees are covered-- I'll essentially be able to get a PhD while only paying for two years.

The problem is that there doesn't seem to be any possible funding. I don't think the government loan will apply, since if it's backdated it'll count as a 2017/18 first year, and if it's not it'll look like a 2-year course, so they've got me coming and going!

As far as I can tell, there are no other sources of funding-- AHRC stuff is no good, since the deadlines are significantly earlier than my upgrade time.

So: on the one hand, scholarships and the government loan are off the table. On the other, an opportunity to complete a PhD with only two years' extra funding. My living expenses can be covered in a part-time job which wouldn't be too many hours, so the question is finding the money for two years of tuition fees. Any thoughts or ideas greatly appreciated!

20-Dec-17, 17:53
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 3 years ago
I came across this online the other day:
Might be hard work but might be worth it!

Sounds a great idea to upgrade by the way - I hadn't heard of it before. Is the MA by Research similar to an MPhil?
20-Dec-17, 19:18
Avatar for bewildered
posted about 3 years ago
Why do you want to do a PhD? If it's just for the title and not for career purposes then maybe speedy completion is the main concern (although I'd be sceptical that you could complete in two years while working p/t) but if you have hopes of an academic career, it might be worth thinking about a couple of things.

1) Are you in an ultra competitive field like Eng Lit or History? If so you will need teaching experience and publications and conferences to even stand a chance of a p/t teaching fellowship at the end of it. That is hard to manage financially as a self-funder working p/t too. Getting AHRC funding too is a nice line on your cv if you think you'd be competitive.
2) Is the current topic / supervisor / university ideally how you'd want your PhD to look or is it compromises? If you are in a field where prestige of institution and supervisor matters eg philosophy too many compromises might make you uncompetitive.
21-Dec-17, 14:01
edited about 5 seconds later
by DanBuck
Avatar for DanBuck
posted about 3 years ago
Many thanks for the alternative funding guide, Tudor Queen! I gather the MA by Research is quite like an MPhil, yes-- in the same way, it would become an exit qualification if I were to upgrade and then not complete the PhD.

Bewildered-- I am in Eng Lit, and I am aware that speediness might be detrimental in terms of the academic CV. However, I already have a couple of publications on the way and a conference attendence under my belt, which have, themselves, appeared a bit quicker in my academic career than is perhaps usual, so part of my interest in the upgrade is the fact that these early bits and pieces might compensate for the speed! I'm keen on the notion of an academic career, but not married to it-- ideally, I'd like to keep my options open either way. I have already considered the factors in your second point, and I'm more than happy with all three.

I should stress that I by no means look upon this upgrade as my only option. I have a conventional PhD application in the works too, and I'm applying for AHRC funding alongside it-- in the unlikely event that I were to be offered such funding, I would absolutely prioritise it, of course.

I'm just quite aware of the relative rarity of my circumstances and the opportunites they provide, so I feel it's important and sensible to make sure I've given all my options thorough assessment before dismissing the notion of the upgrade!


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