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UCL or Oxford for PhD in Law?

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    I am facing a bit of a dilemma. I was offered a full scholarship (fees+stipend) to do a PhD at UCL while I have been offered a place but no funding at Oxford. I have accepted the scholarship but I have this lingering feeling that I might be making a mistake.

    Any thoughts?
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    (Original post by Gontrano)
    I am facing a bit of a dilemma. I was offered a full scholarship (fees+stipend) to do a PhD at UCL while I have been offered a place but no funding at Oxford. I have accepted the scholarship but I have this lingering feeling that I might be making a mistake.

    Any thoughts?
    I usually recommend that people don't dismiss the long term cachet of Oxford and Cambridge, but UCL, for Law, with a full scholarship? Oxford isn't going to be able to top that in terms of the contacts you make and the people you get to work with, if you are pursuing a career in law afterwards. Although I don't have Oxford to compare it with, I do have Cambridge, so I've a fair idea what is on offer there. I've recently had a job where I worked closely with the Laws dept at UCL and it is outstanding and absolutely packed with extras.
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    Can you afford to self-fund at Oxford? If not, then it may be a painful decision but it would be best to go to UCL. When I did my Masters a few years ago I was offered a place on an Oxford MPhil and desperately wanted to go, but Oxbridge is simply out of reach for those of us not lucky enough to secure funding or have wealthy people who can pay for us.
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    I could probably self-fund the first year and then hope to get external funding for the next two years... I should also have said that I already have an Oxford degree so I already can benefit from the cachet, even though it is not a DPhil.
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    (Original post by Gontrano)
    I could probably self-fund the first year and then hope to get external funding for the next two years... I should also have said that I already have an Oxford degree so I already can benefit from the cachet, even though it is not a DPhil.
    That's big gamble to take! Personally I would take the funding.
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    I would go for the funded offer. It's like the third or fourth best ranked uni in the country.
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    (Original post by Gontrano)
    I could probably self-fund the first year and then hope to get external funding for the next two years... I should also have said that I already have an Oxford degree so I already can benefit from the cachet, even though it is not a DPhil.
    If you've already got Oxford on your CV then I wouldn't hesitate, go to UCL.
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    I don't even know why that's a dilemma really. Not a tough call at all. You have many precursors. For example, Ian Phillips, currently a lecturer of philosophy at UCL, chose to pursue a PhD at UCL whilst he was still a fellow by examination at All Souls, Oxford: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~uctyibp/
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    (Original post by Gontrano)
    I am facing a bit of a dilemma. I was offered a full scholarship (fees+stipend) to do a PhD at UCL while I have been offered a place but no funding at Oxford. I have accepted the scholarship but I have this lingering feeling that I might be making a mistake.

    Any thoughts?
    Take UCL's funding and use it to self-fund the Oxford PhD. Yes there may be consequences later on, but sod that you'll have a PhD in law from Oxford, nobody wants to mess with you in court right?

    Easy decision, UCL. It's not a hard decision based on the original info, but when you added that you already have an Oxford degree you made it a walk in the park
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    (Original post by Gontrano)
    I am facing a bit of a dilemma. I was offered a full scholarship (fees+stipend) to do a PhD at UCL while I have been offered a place but no funding at Oxford. I have accepted the scholarship but I have this lingering feeling that I might be making a mistake.

    Any thoughts?
    Well, the main reason to choose where to do your PhD is your supervisor and interests is it not? Anyway, take the UCL route. There's a danger in an expensive mistake in dropping out of Oxford because of the lack of funds.
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    (Original post by cambio wechsel)
    Unless you want to study something in which Oxford has an obvious and unrivalled specialty (Philosophy of Law, for example) then this is surely a no-brainer, and the more so since you've already had the Oxford experience.
    I wouldn't even regard jurisprudence as a problem. The Quain professorship is the foremost chair of legal philosophy outside Oxford rivalled only by Edinburgh.
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    Unless you want to study something in which Oxford has an obvious and unrivalled specialty (Philosophy of Law, for example) then this is surely a no-brainer, and the more so since you've already had the Oxford experience.

    I vaguely feel as well that 'Oxford + UCL' is if anything more impressive than 'Oxford + Oxford', as there's sometimes a suspicion that it's easier to stay put and be advantaged in admissions only as the 'known quantity' candidate. And it is surely that when you can as well put "Research council funded" on the CV.
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    (Original post by pharmakos)
    Ian Phillips, currently a lecturer of philosophy at UCL, chose to pursue a PhD at UCL whilst he was still a fellow by examination at All Souls, Oxford: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~uctyibp/
    on a point of ridiculous pedantry it looks from the CV linked to on that page as if he did not. Oxford graduates are entitled to sit the All Souls exams for up to 10 terms after graduating, whether still at Oxford or not. It would appear here that the bloke began his AHRC funded UCL PhD in September 2005 and sat the All Souls exam at the end of that same month, winning admission a few weeks later. What he then didn't choose to do was to transfer the doctoral studies to Oxford, such that he continued to study with UCL after winning the fellowship at All Souls. Possibly he had his dream tutor at UCL or was only enjoying the London life, but I wonder whether his staying put might have allowed him to hold the financial awards concurrently. That last would have made him proper rich in grad student terms - now more than 35 grand a year untaxed and he could as well have lived at All Souls rent-free and commuted to London for meetings with his supervisor. Of course I have no notion whether this was the case.
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    Of course take the funding. Presuming the stipend is ~£13,000 + £4,000 fees, I think it would be pretty foolish to turn down £51,000 so you can choose Oxford over UCL.
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    Surely this decision rests purely on your supervisor/research aims and what each department can offer you in this regard?
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    (Original post by cambio wechsel)
    on a point of ridiculous pedantry it looks from the CV linked to on that page as if he did not. Oxford graduates are entitled to sit the All Souls exams for up to 10 terms after graduating, whether still at Oxford or not. It would appear here that the bloke began his AHRC funded UCL PhD in September 2005 and sat the All Souls exam at the end of that same month, winning admission a few weeks later. What he then didn't choose to do was to transfer the doctoral studies to Oxford, such that he continued to study with UCL after winning the fellowship at All Souls. Possibly he had his dream tutor at UCL or was only enjoying the London life, but I wonder whether his staying put might have allowed him to hold the financial awards concurrently. That last would have made him proper rich in grad student terms - now more than 35 grand a year untaxed and he could as well have lived at All Souls rent-free and commuted to London for meetings with his supervisor. Of course I have no notion whether this was the case.
    My point is a true diamond will shine wherever it is. Phillips finished his PhD at UCL in 2008 and was awarded the ASSC William James Prize in 2011 (the first philosopher to receive the prize)
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    (Original post by pharmakos)
    My point is a true diamond will shine wherever it is.
    Perhaps. But since UCL is itself a world-renowned university with a properly terrific department of philosophy, this example doesn't demonstrate the truth of that.
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    Thanks a lot all of you who took the time to consider my question. Your answers are appreciated and they comfort me in my decision.

    Concerning Phillips, that strikes me as a rare case of having one's cake and eating it too. Benefiting from the working conditions and mentoring opportunities afforded to exam fellows while studying at another top uni seems amazing. That really is not a case of choosing between Ox and UCL, but one of combining the two!

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