Hey there Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free

PhD The Early Process, Application and Interview advice

Announcements Posted on
    • 1 follower
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Sjd73)
    I've been accepted onto a number of law PhDs (Cambridge, Oxford, Durham, Edinburgh) starting in September but I'm yet to make a final decision on my destination. My question is, how much do you think the institution you attend matters? My tutors at Cambridge seem to think that, if I don't want to stay at Cam, Oxford is clearly the best place to go. In some respects I see their point, but I always thought that when it came to research, faculty reputations could be somewhat disgarded. Is the case different when it comes to Oxbridge?
    I don't know much about law myself but there are fields in which there is a degree of elitism and choice of university is important. It would not surprise me if law was one of those fields. Aside from this though, there are many practical reasons, Oxford and Cambridge are well-resourced compared to many other institutions in terms of libraries, faculty members, students, etc and all this is useful to PhD students.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by shiny)
    I don't know much about law myself but there are fields in which there is a degree of elitism and choice of university is important. It would not surprise me if law was one of those fields. Aside from this though, there are many practical reasons, Oxford and Cambridge are well-resourced compared to many other institutions in terms of libraries, faculty members, students, etc and all this is useful to PhD students.
    Thanks for this. For what it is worth, I think you're probably right. The upper echelons on the legal world are dominated by those educated at Oxbridge, and, as far as my next move goes, I suspect I'm more likely to meet the right people and make the right contacts at Oxford. What a fool I was for even considering elsewhere!
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    Hi everyone,

    I'm filling out an application for a funded Psychology PhD place at Goldsmiths, London and at one point the application asks me to give a detailed timetable of how I see my PhD panning out over the 3 years. I asked my potential supervisor for some advice but he pretty much said that it all depends on my project, and that it's just to show I can timetable effectively. I'm really lost on it though. I'm supposed to leave time for lit reviews, writing up each experiment, presenting papers, etc and I've no idea how long any of that stuff takes, or how many experiments I'd be expected to do across 3 years.

    Anyone have any advice? It'd be much appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Becky
    • 1 follower
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    It all depends on the PhD, and there is no answer to this really. Your lit review for example should go on throughout the entire duration of the PhD, to accommodate any updates in research that have been carried out by other researchers. The core of my literature review comprised the first year (as well as other activities such as methodological considerations, ethics and assessments etc). These findings may contradict or reinforce ideas and themes already identified. The design and planning of methods that comprise the overall methodology usually begin from year 2. You will also be expected to produce one or more papers and present them at a conference. The analysis and interpretation are also likely to be carried out in this year and into year 3. You are basically gonna need to collate data, analyse and interpret it to prove or disprove an hypothesis, aims and research questions. There are three main models you can use: The focus down model which is like 30 % lit review, 30 % methods, 30 % core and 10 % analysis and interpretation. The opening out model is like 10 % lit review, 60 % core, 20 % analysis and interpretation and 10 % discussion. The compromise model is like 20 % lit review, 50 % core, 15 % analysis and interpretation and 15 % discussion.
    • 5 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    Ok, I know there's a seperate 'Personal Statement' section but I thought I'd ask here as it's about a personal statement attached to a PhD application. I'm not talking about the Research Proposal as I've got that covered.

    This is how I'm thinking of laying it out in order:

    1) A rundown of my academic history, from A levels up to the present, the degrees (and other awards) I have to my name and how well I passed them.

    2) A discussion of my academic interests, what subjects in particular I have become attached to, which academics, theories and methodologies I am most engaged and influenced by.

    3) Something about my aims in pursuing a PhD, my interest in getting involved in univserity teaching and my enthusiasm to contribute to academic life at the university, and beyond, more generally.

    4) Something about me as a person, what I've done outside of academic life, what kinds of jobs I've had, other interests, something about my personality.

    I'm not aware of a word-limit but 1000-1500 seems to be the expectation, so I'm thinking it will probably be a paragraph each.

    Any thoughts or advice on this approach?
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Oswy)
    Ok, I know there's a seperate 'Personal Statement' section but I thought I'd ask here as it's about a personal statement attached to a PhD application. I'm not talking about the Research Proposal as I've got that covered.

    This is how I'm thinking of laying it out in order:

    1) A rundown of my academic history, from A levels up to the present, the degrees (and other awards) I have to my name and how well I passed them.

    2) A discussion of my academic interests, what subjects in particular I have become attached to, which academics, theories and methodologies I am most engaged and influenced by.

    3) Something about my aims in pursuing a PhD, my interest in getting involved in univserity teaching and my enthusiasm to contribute to academic life at the university, and beyond, more generally.

    4) Something about me as a person, what I've done outside of academic life, what kinds of jobs I've had, other interests, something about my personality.

    I'm not aware of a word-limit but 1000-1500 seems to be the expectation, so I'm thinking it will probably be a paragraph each.

    Any thoughts or advice on this approach?
    I had to write a statement of purpose (which I believe is the same as a personal statement, correct me if wrong?) on top of the research proposal and I did about the same thing except the last one as I...ran out of space. Mine was a page long and I talked about my academic background, how and why I came to be interested in the area of research I'm hoping to pursue and why I was pursuing a PhD in the first place.

    Also, I don't know how common it is for candidates in the Humanities (I'm applying for English) to be interviewed, but I had a (phone) interview a few days ago and I have to say Epoch's write-up in the first post helped me tremendously as I had no idea what to expect. As it transpired, it was the first kind of interview, i.e. a discussion of sorts with potential supervisor(s). I was asked a few questions about my dissertation as Epoch mentioned (I'd forwarded my diss to them a few days prior), namely how long it took me to write it and after writing it, whether I'd found out anything new that I didn't know before. I had to think about the second one a little and there was a lot of "umm"-ing and "ahh"-ing since I'd written my MA dissertation a whole year ago and I only remembered the gist of it. Then I was asked how I came about with the idea for my research proposal. At the end of the "interview" I was told that I'd been offered a place so I guess I didn't do too badly! I'm still waiting for my references so they said they'd issue the offer letter as soon as I sent them in.

    Anyway I hope this helps anyone who has a PhD interview in the Humanities! Best of luck everyone!
    • 5 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Charlemagne)
    I had to write a statement of purpose (which I believe is the same as a personal statement, correct me if wrong?) on top of the research proposal and I did about the same thing except the last one as I...ran out of space. Mine was a page long and I talked about my academic background, how and why I came to be interested in the area of research I'm hoping to pursue and why I was pursuing a PhD in the first place.

    Also, I don't know how common it is for candidates in the Humanities (I'm applying for English) to be interviewed, but I had a (phone) interview a few days ago and I have to say Epoch's write-up in the first post helped me tremendously as I had no idea what to expect. As it transpired, it was the first kind of interview, i.e. a discussion of sorts with potential supervisor(s). I was asked a few questions about my dissertation as Epoch mentioned (I'd forwarded my diss to them a few days prior), namely how long it took me to write it and after writing it, whether I'd found out anything new that I didn't know before. I had to think about the second one a little and there was a lot of "umm"-ing and "ahh"-ing since I'd written my MA dissertation a whole year ago and I only remembered the gist of it. Then I was asked how I came about with the idea for my research proposal. At the end of the "interview" I was told that I'd been offered a place so I guess I didn't do too badly! I'm still waiting for my references so they said they'd issue the offer letter as soon as I sent them in.

    Anyway I hope this helps anyone who has a PhD interview in the Humanities! Best of luck everyone!
    Thanks for that, it helps a lot. I know what you mean about answering questions about your MA, I completed mine in 2009 and I can't so easily offer up detail like I could have if asked in the weeks after I'd handed it in - when I could probably have talked non-stop for three hours! In my circumstances I will be invited to a face-to-face interview if selected, so I'll swat-up should I get that far.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Oswy)
    Thanks for that, it helps a lot. I know what you mean about answering questions about your MA, I completed mine in 2009 and I can't so easily offer up detail like I could have if asked in the weeks after I'd handed it in - when I could probably have talked non-stop for three hours! In my circumstances I will be invited to a face-to-face interview if selected, so I'll swat-up should I get that far.
    Good luck, I'm sure you'll be awesome! I tried to do some swotting up on my what I wrote for my MA diss before the interview but I just got so horribly distracted by the research proposal, which I thought was more important anyway haha!

    I think if it was a formal interview with a panel of academics I would have failed miserably though, I was so ill-prepared.

    Anyway, best o' luck!:cool:
    • 10 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Charlemagne)
    I had to write a statement of purpose (which I believe is the same as a personal statement, correct me if wrong?) on top of the research proposal and I did about the same thing except the last one as I...ran out of space. Mine was a page long and I talked about my academic background, how and why I came to be interested in the area of research I'm hoping to pursue and why I was pursuing a PhD in the first place.
    Which university was that?
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by hobnob)
    Which university was that?
    QMUL! I don't know if the two are the same (I take they're not, from your response!) but I just wrote about how I came to be involved in the area of study I'm pursuing, why I want to do a PhD and how it would contribute to my career and so on. Did I do the right thing?
    • 10 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Charlemagne)
    QMUL! I don't know if the two are the same (I take they're not, from your response!) but I just wrote about how I came to be involved in the area of study I'm pursuing, why I want to do a PhD and how it would contribute to my career and so on. Did I do the right thing?
    Pretty much. Normally a statement of purpose is just for MA-applicants who don't need to do a proper research proposal, so it's for talking about your research interests in broad terms, how the course they're applying for fits into your plans for the future, what specifically you're hoping to gain from it, how your undergraduate degree has been preparing you for it etc. It doesn't really make a lot of sense to ask for one on top of a research proposal, though.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by hobnob)
    Pretty much. Normally a statement of purpose is just for MA-applicants who don't need to do a proper research proposal, so it's for talking about your research interests in broad terms, how the course they're applying for fits into your plans for the future, what specifically you're hoping to gain from it, how your undergraduate degree has been preparing you for it etc. It doesn't really make a lot of sense to ask for one on top of a research proposal, though.
    I know, I thought it was strange too! But I checked with Admissions and they said that I had to hand in both a research proposal and a statement of purpose, so I just whipped one up haha. Queen Mary works in mysterious ways...
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Charlemagne)
    I know, I thought it was strange too! But I checked with Admissions and they said that I had to hand in both a research proposal and a statement of purpose, so I just whipped one up haha. Queen Mary works in mysterious ways...
    Hi Charlemagne!

    I'm writing a SoP for Queen Mary as well, so I have the same points pretty much covered, I was just wondering if you included anything on why chosing QM?

    It's a one page statement, pretty short, so I'm not sure how to go about it. Also, I'm applying for a studentship, for which I also have to write a research brief, where they specifically ask for why study at QM (I would write the supervisor and the research interests/support of their dept). Not sure whether to put this there instead of the SoP...

    Thanks a bunch!

    S
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by animebrown)
    Hi Charlemagne!

    I'm writing a SoP for Queen Mary as well, so I have the same points pretty much covered, I was just wondering if you included anything on why chosing QM?

    It's a one page statement, pretty short, so I'm not sure how to go about it. Also, I'm applying for a studentship, for which I also have to write a research brief, where they specifically ask for why study at QM (I would write the supervisor and the research interests/support of their dept). Not sure whether to put this there instead of the SoP...

    Thanks a bunch!

    S
    I didn't write anything specific about choosing QMUL, I just said something about the library and the research facilities' (?) compatibility with my area of study and so on.

    I would put the really specific bits about choosing Queen Mary in the research brief for the studentship. The way I see it, a statement of purpose should be general, and the research brief should be tailored to the department/uni in question. At least that's what I think, I'm no expert though.

    Good luck! Isn't the deadline for studentships pretty soon though (the 21st iirc)?
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Charlemagne)
    I didn't write anything specific about choosing QMUL, I just said something about the library and the research facilities' (?) compatibility with my area of study and so on.

    I would put the really specific bits about choosing Queen Mary in the research brief for the studentship. The way I see it, a statement of purpose should be general, and the research brief should be tailored to the department/uni in question. At least that's what I think, I'm no expert though.

    Good luck! Isn't the deadline for studentships pretty soon though (the 21st iirc)?
    Thanks! I might add something on the supervisor cause that's the main reason.

    Yes, the deadline is the 21st, so I am just trying to narrow down the 3500 words I have at the moment to a 500 statement and 1000 research brief ) Not that easy...
    • 1 follower
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    Universities do seem very inconsistent when it comes to PhD applications. Newcastle only want a 500-750 word research proposal. Other universities want a research proposal ranging anyway from 500-2000 words, and a personal statement that seems almost irrelevant at this stage. As if a PhD students needs to explain why they want to spend three years of their life at a particular university and with a particular set of staff...
    • 10 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by evantej)
    Universities do seem very inconsistent when it comes to PhD applications. Newcastle only want a 500-750 word research proposal. Other universities want a research proposal ranging anyway from 500-2000 words, and a personal statement that seems almost irrelevant at this stage. As if a PhD students needs to explain why they want to spend three years of their life at a particular university and with a particular set of staff...
    One German university which I considered applying to wanted a research proposal of 5,000 words for some bizarre reason.:lolwut: Needless to say I didn't consider them for very long...
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by evantej)
    Universities do seem very inconsistent when it comes to PhD applications. Newcastle only want a 500-750 word research proposal. Other universities want a research proposal ranging anyway from 500-2000 words, and a personal statement that seems almost irrelevant at this stage. As if a PhD students needs to explain why they want to spend three years of their life at a particular university and with a particular set of staff...
    I agree! The P statement seems so obsolete, and I wonder why they're not bored by reading the same generic braggings about yourself and how you want to be a university professor afterwards...
    • 1 follower
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    While the initial research proposal is required, many universities will have an in-built assessment scheme to assess the project in more detail anyway.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    Out of interest has anyone here looked at doing a PhD in the US?

    I'm planning on applying at the end of the year. There are certainly numerous advantages in doing this with most schools offering full financial aid. Obviously there are disadvantages too, like the GRE, 2 years of coursework (although I like that idea) and a different academic environment.

Reply

Submit reply

Register

Thanks for posting! You just need to create an account in order to submit the post
  1. this can't be left blank
    that username has been taken, please choose another Forgotten your password?

    this is what you'll be called on TSR

  2. this can't be left blank
    this email is already registered. Forgotten your password?

    never shared and never spammed

  3. this can't be left blank

    6 characters or longer with both numbers and letters is safer

  4. this can't be left empty
    your full birthday is required
  1. By joining you agree to our Ts and Cs, privacy policy and site rules

  2. Slide the button to the right to create your account

    Slide to join now Processing…

Updated: July 23, 2014
New on TSR

Talk about SQA results day

Join the chat ahead of grades coming out on Tuesday

Article updates
Useful resources

Articles:

Postgraduate Education Guide

Quick Link:

Unanswered Postgraduate Threads

Groups associated with this forum:

View associated groups
Reputation gems:
You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.