PhD Application 'all year round'

12-Aug-19, 11:31
by balolla
Avatar for balolla
posted about 4 months ago
Hello everyone, I recently moved to the UK and I have some questions about how PhD works.
I read on 'find a phd' website a PhD that has a very interesting topic for me, published in June 2019, which accepts applications all year round. I would like to send an application but I have not yet achieved the IELTS exam, which I am going to get this winter.
How does this type of PhD works (which already has a predefined argument)?
Until when are they accepting the application? I think until the autumn session of 2020..or before?
What is the procedure for sending an application for these types of projects?
Thanks a lot!!
13-Aug-19, 10:18
edited about 14 seconds later
Avatar for Spykeeboy
posted about 4 months ago
A general overview of the PhD journey in the UK may prove beneficial.

First, the application process. I have never heard of PhD programmes with continuous recruitment of student(s) throughout the year, and would be surprised if these exist. Instead, most PhD projects have a limited application window during which they are advertised online by the University who secured the project funding. Thus, most PhD's usually begin in October and January, with applications beginning around May-July and October-November, respectively.

Before directly applying online for a PhD, it may be a good idea to e-mail the first project supervisor (who will be listed in the advertisement) for an informal discussion. A PhD is a serious commitment, and the short project description is often insufficient to determine whether a project is really something interesting that would excite and intrigue you. Even if you are sure, however, an informal discussion is still a perfect method of establishing contact, and provides you the opportunity to show you passionate you are about the research before a more formal interview (the positive outcome of which, given a very successful informal discussion, may even be decided well in advance).

Once you have settled on a few (or even a single) potential project, prepare your application as per the guidelines provided by the advertising University - this is very important! I have seen a person fail to meet simple criteria like a CV page limit, just because they did not read the details of application.

Be mindful that you will need at least a Bachelors Degree, usually First Class honours.

In the event of successful application, you will be shortlisted for a formal interview. Treat it like a job interview - read the principal supervisors' research and familiarise yourself with some general details. For instance, if a STEM project is about a certain class of molecules, know how to draw at least some of their structures. Know landmark papers that advanced the field - not necessarily limited to those authored by the supervisor(s).

I am reaching the word limit, continuation below...
13-Aug-19, 10:35
edited about 12 seconds later
Avatar for Spykeeboy
posted about 4 months ago
Another important point is the funding availability. Unfortunately, UK PhDs are usually only fully funded for Home (i.e. UK nationals) or EU students, while tuition fees for citizens outside of the EU and EEA (European Economic Area) are extortionate in comparison. To give you an example, EU tuition fees may be £5,000, with an international equivalent of £20,000. The situation is similarly dire for MSc and MPhil degrees, which also command almost quintuple the amount for third country citizens. Thus, if you do not have a UK/EU passport, you will be required to cover £15,000 an academic year out of your own pocket given the above example. However, you will also be earning a net (tax-free) stipend via a 'maintenance grant' of about £15,000 p/a. Needless to say, the rigorous academic requirements for obtaining a PhD do not change.

Once you begin working on a project, the funding is usually time-limited to 3 years, after which you are given an extra 'writing up year' with substantially reduced fees (think a few hundred pounds). For STEM PhDs, you will still be able to work in the lab and have an office space during this year, especially if you are on track for a high-impact publication(s). Your maintenance grant will be cut, however, unless funding is secured elsewhere.

During those 3-4 years, you should be having regular supervisory meetings to track your progress (keep in mind, your supervisor WILL want you to succeed), and it is a good idea to publish a few articles on your research (think 1-2 first author papers, the more the merrier). However, keep in mind this is not a requirement, and for many students there are no publications until the final (or the 'writing up') year - this is normal, as is having no publications at all by the time of the viva (oral examination of your work, usually by 2 experts in the field). Pass the viva, do the almost inevitable corrections, and you are home-free!


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