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Best Academic Route? BSc, MPhil, PhD etc Watch

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    (Original post by Cora Lindsay)
    Well, that's certainly a clear career plan!

    We generally expect our PhD students to have a Masters-level qualification and we usually see people coming through the MChem/MPhys/MEng route. We do sometimes take BSc graduates for PhDs, but often they have something like relevant industry experience. As people have already said, the MChem/MPhys/MEng route makes a lot of financial sense.

    In science and engineering you would generally apply for a specific place and/or project. Self funded PhDs are pretty unusual in these areas because they cost a lot of money.

    However, a lot (about half, I think) of EPSRC sponsored PhDs are now delivered through Centres for Doctoral Training. These include a training element which is often a taught Masters. So that's something else to think about.

    Good luck!

    C
    This was very comprehensive, thank you very much.
    If I was to apply for a BSc and then spoke to the University, and all goes well, and they say that I can do an extra year for a MSci (be it MBio, MChem... I believe that MPhil is different, but not sure how), would this all be considered 1 degree? i.e. it would be covered by student finance.

    Thank you again!
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    (Original post by Slazenger)
    it's worth noting that increasingly in bioscience fields, people are bypassing the master's and going straight from bachelor's to doctorate.

    Okay, thanks, but how come? :confused:
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    (Original post by DanMargetts)
    Okay, thanks, but how come? :confused:
    because it's often not necessary. in fact, i know of academics who actively look down on a master's because it suggests that you weren't good enough to go straight from the bachelor's. that might be a minority opinion, but it's still there.
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    Put simply PhDs require you to be suitably prepared for the programme and a BSc/undergraduate masters are often seen as sufficient. Masters degrees are often good for career development or changing subject (like me ), but aren't necessarily required for a PhD. This may also be due to the difficulty of funding a postgraduate masters.
    Given that you seemed to know very little about the university system (e.g. not knowing what an honours degree is), it is worth clarifying that a professor is someone who is very advanced in their field. It can take years and years of research, becoming a hugely respected member of your field. Most of the people who taught me weren't professors, but were lecturers (who also undertook research).
    Also, just a tip: SLOW DOWN. There is a temptation at 6th form to plan your life and there are good choices that can be made: pick a subject you like, at a good university and, if you can, picking a university which has the option of doing an undergraduate masters may be beneficial. You are probably about 5 or 6 years away from your (potential) PhD, a lot will change between now and then. It is important to keep your goals in mind, but also stay open to change, you don't know how 6th form and university is going to turn out and making them into formulaic steps won't neccesarily allow you to make the most of your experience.
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    (Original post by DanMargetts)
    If I was to apply for a BSc and then spoke to the University, and all goes well, and they say that I can do an extra year for a MSci (be it MBio, MChem... I believe that MPhil is different, but not sure how), would this all be considered 1 degree? i.e. it would be covered by student finance.
    It varies with institution and department but, where I work, the sensible thing to do is apply for the MSci and switch from that into the BSc if you wish to. The reason is that there are some specific requirements for the MSci pathway which you would miss if you signed up for BSc from the beginning.

    We actually allow swapping from MSci to BSc up to the end of year 2 so it is straightforward to do. Swapping the other way is more difficult.

    MPhil is different. It is a postgraduate degree which wouldn't be covered by student finance. An MPhil is, in my experience, a research degree (essentially a mini-PhD) examined by thesis. To be honest, I am not sure how that differs from MSc by Research- it's very confusing.
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    (Original post by Cora Lindsay)
    An MPhil is, in my experience, a research degree (essentially a mini-PhD) examined by thesis. To be honest, I am not sure how that differs from MSc by Research- it's very confusing.
    An MSc by Research is a Masters-level qualification, where the MPhil is a step up from that. At my uni, both a research Masters and an MPhil are assessed by a viva examination of a thesis, but the research Masters is on a smaller scale. An MPhil is expected to be at the standard of an early stage PhD researcher - hence if you fail your initial PhD viva but it has redeeming features, you can be offered the option to transfer "back" to a lesser MPhil.

    A research Masters is a stand-alone qualification, where an MPhil can be taken as a stand-alone qualification but is - at my uni at least - more often the outcome of a failed, truncated or abandoned PhD project. Checking in my uni's prospectus, they don't advertise MPhils. Of course this may vary between unis - or even departments within a uni.
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    (Original post by bownessie)
    Put simply PhDs require you to be suitably prepared for the programme and a BSc/undergraduate masters are often seen as sufficient. Masters degrees are often good for career development or changing subject (like me ), but aren't necessarily required for a PhD. This may also be due to the difficulty of funding a postgraduate masters.
    Given that you seemed to know very little about the university system (e.g. not knowing what an honours degree is), it is worth clarifying that a professor is someone who is very advanced in their field. It can take years and years of research, becoming a hugely respected member of your field. Most of the people who taught me weren't professors, but were lecturers (who also undertook research).
    Also, just a tip: SLOW DOWN. There is a temptation at 6th form to plan your life and there are good choices that can be made: pick a subject you like, at a good university and, if you can, picking a university which has the option of doing an undergraduate masters may be beneficial. You are probably about 5 or 6 years away from your (potential) PhD, a lot will change between now and then. It is important to keep your goals in mind, but also stay open to change, you don't know how 6th form and university is going to turn out and making them into formulaic steps won't neccesarily allow you to make the most of your experience.

    Oh okay, thank you!
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    (Original post by Cora Lindsay)
    It varies with institution and department but, where I work, the sensible thing to do is apply for the MSci and switch from that into the BSc if you wish to. The reason is that there are some specific requirements for the MSci pathway which you would miss if you signed up for BSc from the beginning.

    We actually allow swapping from MSci to BSc up to the end of year 2 so it is straightforward to do. Swapping the other way is more difficult.

    MPhil is different. It is a postgraduate degree which wouldn't be covered by student finance. An MPhil is, in my experience, a research degree (essentially a mini-PhD) examined by thesis. To be honest, I am not sure how that differs from MSc by Research- it's very confusing.

    Okay, I understand.
    Thank you very much!
    I will take this advice under consideration and talk to career advisers when I go to Sixth Form and through my school's Science Academy.
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    (Original post by Chlorophile)
    The traditional route would start with a 3-year BSc. You automatically get a BSc (Hons) as long as you get a third class classification or above - there isn't a separate Honours degree. You would then go onto doing a one year MSc degree. However, a lot of universities now offer 4-year MSci degrees (note that they're MSci, not MSc) which essentially act as a BSc and an MSc - the last year normally has a research component and basically acts as a precursor to doing the PhD. You'd then apply for a PhD and hopefully get a placement. I'm not entirely sure what you'd do after that, but that's a long way away so you don't need to worry about that at the moment!

    Another slightly confusing thing is the terminology, because there are a lot of different titles for the same thing. A BSc is a 3 year undergraduate degree and an MSc is a one year taught or research based postgraduate degree. An MSci is a 4-year integrated masters undergraduate degree, but universities sometimes give the MSci a different name. For instance, some universities call their 4-year integrated masters chemistry courses MChem and the same thing goes for MPhys. I'm not 100% sure what the MPhil is, but it appears to be similar to a research-based MSc - it is definitely not the same thing as an MSci.

    It's really confusing, I know. The first decision you need to make is whether to go for a 3 year or 4 year undergraduate degree. MSci degrees appear to be very popular at the moment so if you're certain you want to go into research, it seems like the way to go. Given that you're in Year 11 at the moment, I really don't think you need to worry about post-masters right now!

    But essentially, the two main routes are:

    BSc -> MSc -> PhD -> Job
    MSci (or equivalent) -> PhD -> Job
    Would one disadvantage of the MSci be that if you later decide you don't want to do a masters and no longer interested in academics; or just need a break; that you are stuck doing it for another, and even more intensive year?

    Just finished my degree, and wanted to drop out by the end of it, as I was so down with all the work and boredom. I found the choice useful, as I have now been able to do my MSc part rather than full time. If I needed the time out I could have taken it too in full time employment.

    Just a thought
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    (Original post by hellodave5)
    Would one disadvantage of the MSci be that if you later decide you don't want to do a masters and no longer interested in academics; or just need a break; that you are stuck doing it for another, and even more intensive year?

    Just finished my degree, and wanted to drop out by the end of it, as I was so down with all the work and boredom. I found the choice useful, as I have now been able to do my MSc part rather than full time. If I needed the time out I could have taken it too in full time employment.

    Just a thought
    Not really, since every university I've spoken to says it's pretty easy to change to BSc until your second year.
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    (Original post by Chlorophile)
    Not really, since every university I've spoken to says it's pretty easy to change to BSc until your second year.
    That could be a problem. Everyone is keen in their first year, not so much second and third; for those that lose motivation at least - some don't. Personally I got a little bored during second year. It's still quite early (2 years till the end of the BSc).
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    (Original post by Slazenger)
    it's worth noting that increasingly in bioscience fields, people are bypassing the master's and going straight from bachelor's to doctorate.
    You say that but I know 1 person that managed that. If anything I would say in whole organism Biology the trend is increasingly going the other way, with candidates being expected to have not only a Masters, but even a seperate research masters to their undergraduate which they have passed with dostinction. At least that was the unofficial minimum for people to get onto NERC/EPSRC funded PhDs when I was applying.
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    (Original post by hellodave5)
    Would one disadvantage of the MSci be that if you later decide you don't want to do a masters and no longer interested in academics; or just need a break; that you are stuck doing it for another, and even more intensive year?

    Just finished my degree, and wanted to drop out by the end of it, as I was so down with all the work and boredom. I found the choice useful, as I have now been able to do my MSc part rather than full time. If I needed the time out I could have taken it too in full time employment.

    Just a thought
    Two of my friends had this issue but only realised in third year when it was too late tp swap, so theu essentially had to drop out and take their bachelors third year the next year.
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    (Original post by redferry)
    You say that but I know 1 person that managed that. If anything I would say in whole organism Biology the trend is increasingly going the other way, with candidates being expected to have not only a Masters, but even a seperate research masters to their undergraduate which they have passed with dostinction. At least that was the unofficial minimum for people to get onto NERC/EPSRC funded PhDs when I was applying.
    What PhD do you have, or are you doing?
    How are you finding it? Would love the insight
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    (Original post by hellodave5)
    What PhD do you have, or are you doing?
    How are you finding it? Would love the insight
    I start in September!

    This is the programme Im on: http://london-nerc-dtp.org
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    (Original post by redferry)
    I start in September!

    This is the programme Im on: http://london-nerc-dtp.org
    That's great. Sounds very interesting. The sub-categories look good. Is there one you are particularly interested in?

    May ask how you are doing later on, when you're into it. Best of luck!
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    (Original post by hellodave5)
    That's great. Sounds very interesting. The sub-categories look good. Is there one you are particularly interested in?

    May ask how you are doing later on, when you're into it. Best of luck!
    Im an ecologist but aim seeking to do something that brings onboard political/economic elements
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    (Original post by redferry)
    You say that but I know 1 person that managed that. If anything I would say in whole organism Biology the trend is increasingly going the other way, with candidates being expected to have not only a Masters, but even a seperate research masters to their undergraduate which they have passed with dostinction. At least that was the unofficial minimum for people to get onto NERC/EPSRC funded PhDs when I was applying.
    of all the Ph.D. students i know (about 25), 1 of them has done a master's. this is at various london/'russell' group universities, in fields like immunology, cancer, et c.
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    (Original post by Slazenger)
    of all the Ph.D. students i know (about 25), 1 of them has done a master's. this is at various london/'russell' group universities, in fields like immunology, cancer, et c.
    Yeah hence I said whole organism biology....


    All the PhDs I interviewed for chucked applicants out without distinctions ant Masters.
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    (Original post by redferry)
    Yeah hence I said whole organism biology....


    All the PhDs I interviewed for chucked applicants out without distinctions ant Masters.
    I suspect that, on the whole, most fields are like this because the ratio of qualified applicants to available funding is so skewed they can chuck any candidate without a distinction at masters level out and still be left with twice as many candidates as they can fund. The fields mentioned above (immunology and cancer research) are likely to be the last to experience this, because they have the largest amount of funding from charities/industry and are proportionally less effected by cuts in research spending.
 
 
 
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