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Just how important is it to graduate from the "top" universities, if......... watch

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    ...you're considering a career in academia?

    I have a big decision to make right now, and I'd really appreciate some opinions or advice from you guys.
    I have an English degree (Honours, 1.1.) and I want to study Evolutionary Psychology at masters level; here are the places I can apply, in order of prestige:

    Oxford
    St Andrews
    University of Liverpool

    The first two require that I take a conversion course (lasting 1 year, maybe 2). However, I could almost certainly get into Liverpool without a conversion course (as long as I sell myself well).

    I don't know what to do. I'm considering an academic career, along with journalism and writing of some kind.

    I love university and study. But I am going to have a very hard time paying for fees and living expenses in general.

    Should I go straight for Liverpool, to save money?
    Would I be better off doing the conversion courses, and shooting for the bigger universities?
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    You will be expected to have graduated from the top universities. ALL OF THEM!!!!!!

    But, nah, I don't think it matters much. Besides, this is only the destination for your Masters, right? If you perform well at that level, then you could "easily" do your PhD at Oxford or St. Andrews or wherever else is good for EvPsych.

    It seems kind of a waste of time and money, to me, to do a two-year conversion course so that you can maybe get in at Oxford/St. Andrews and thereby slightly increase your chances at progressing down a career path you are considering.
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    It's not worth wasting at least 1 year, maybe 2. Liverpool is cheaper and fine.
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    I was thinking the extra year (2 years is a bit much...) would look better on my CV - as well as being great enjoyment for me (I really love college, and the masters in Liverpool is only 1 year).

    So, in that sense, it wouldn't be a waste at all.
    I love scholarship.

    But I also am considering doing a Phd - so perhaps it would be a waste to spend so long in university.

    I would LOVE to get into Oxford, and I'd feel that I was selling myself short if I didn't at least go for it.
    Is Oxford far more expensive than Liverpool?
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    You still have a chance of employment if you go to Liverpool, and it's still respected, just not as much as Oxford.
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    (Original post by Sephirona)
    You still have a chance of employment if you go to Liverpool, and it's still respected, just not as much as Oxford.
    Thanks for honouring my thread with your very first post

    I have a "chance" of employment, but Oxford would greatly boost that chance.....
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    In my humble opinion if you are a passionate interested student and the department at Liverpool is good, then I don't see why you would be at a disadvantage for not completing a masters at Oxford. Perhaps you could check to see if any collaborations have occurred between both universities in your field of interest and contact the relevant parties tell them about your future plans and ask what the best route would be to take.

    Good luck
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    Tbh, in terms of postgrad studies, it comes down to who's got the strongest department research wise and where the supervisor you want to work with is based.

    For all you know, given that you've not studied the subject yet, the best department for your new research area may not even be one of those three universities. I think it's a very touch decision to make at the best of times, let alone if you're hoping to change subjects
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    I don't have any insider knowledge here but purely by looking at my own lecturers I can tell you it isn't necessary to have gone to a top university to make it in academia.

    Perhaps if you want to be involved in academia at one of the top universities then you would have had to have graduated from them but in general i would say its more about the quality and ability of the individual...specifically in reference to getting published work, that will dictate your success in the field.

    Btw just to give you an idea of what im basing it on...If i took two of the better lecturers i have had during my degree...one did undergrad at oxford and postgrad at LSE and Harvard..another got both from wolverhampton.
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    You have three chances, Bachelors, Masters and PhD. If you want to be an academic I think its important to have been to a top university in your field for at least one of the three. Doesn't have to be Oxbridge, if you want to be a Politics lecturer for instance, its best to have one of Essex, Sheffield, Oxford, LSE or UCL somewhere on your CV, there will be equivalent big hitters for each subject area.
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    (Original post by PrimateJ)
    I was thinking the extra year (2 years is a bit much...) would look better on my CV - as well as being great enjoyment for me (I really love college, and the masters in Liverpool is only 1 year).

    So, in that sense, it wouldn't be a waste at all.
    I love scholarship.

    But I also am considering doing a Phd - so perhaps it would be a waste to spend so long in university.

    I would LOVE to get into Oxford, and I'd feel that I was selling myself short if I didn't at least go for it.
    Is Oxford far more expensive than Liverpool?
    Oxford is an expensive city to live in and things seem to cost so much more...drinks are hideously expensive and the lack of cheap supermarkets in the city make food shopping on the cheap a nightmare...Not to mention all the fancy dinners and parties that seem to require lots of money and nice outfits!
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    (Original post by happydinosaur)
    Oxford is an expensive city to live in and things seem to cost so much more...drinks are hideously expensive and the lack of cheap supermarkets in the city make food shopping on the cheap a nightmare...Not to mention all the fancy dinners and parties that seem to require lots of money and nice outfits!
    Ruh roh....

    I quit drinking, so that might help. But being dirt poor in Oxford probably isn't the best position to be in...
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    (Original post by PrimateJ)
    Ruh roh....

    I quit drinking, so that might help. But being dirt poor in Oxford probably isn't the best position to be in...
    As an undergrad with loans it probably isn't too bad but unless you have loads of funding as a postgrad you would probably feel poorer than other places. I work full time in Oxford and feel like I have no money so I can't imagine being a postgrad here...
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    (Original post by MagicNMedicine)
    You have three chances, Bachelors, Masters and PhD. If you want to be an academic I think its important to have been to a top university in your field for at least one of the three. Doesn't have to be Oxbridge, if you want to be a Politics lecturer for instance, its best to have one of Essex, Sheffield, Oxford, LSE or UCL somewhere on your CV, there will be equivalent big hitters for each subject area.
    Ok, here comes a total n00b question.

    I have often wondered, how does one "do" a PdD at a place like Oxford?

    I mean, since you'll be doing an original topic, I assume you won't be going to any lectures, i.e. there'll be no set syllabus. So, in what sense do you do a Phd in a university - do you seek out researchers (to be your supervisor) from the different universities? E.g. you want to do a PhD at Oxford, so you request supervision from one of the lecturers/researchers based there?

    As you can see, I know nothing about PhDs.
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    (Original post by happydinosaur)
    As an undergrad with loans it probably isn't too bad but unless you have loads of funding as a postgrad you would probably feel poorer than other places. I work full time in Oxford and feel like I have no money so I can't imagine being a postgrad here...
    Gotchya. Out of curiosity, what do you work as? (If I understand you right, you're doing an undergrad course there and also working full time?:eek:)
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    (Original post by PrimateJ)
    Ok, here comes a total n00b question.

    I have often wondered, how does one "do" a PdD at a place like Oxford?

    I mean, since you'll be doing an original topic, I assume you won't be going to any lectures, i.e. there'll be no set syllabus. So, in what sense do you do a Phd in a university - do you seek out researchers (to be your supervisor) from the different universities? E.g. you want to do a PhD at Oxford, so you request supervision from one of the lecturers/researchers based there?

    As you can see, I know nothing about PhDs.
    For universities in general it is advisable that you contact someone from the staff who match your research interests before applying. This is primarily for practical reasons because some years lecturers can be on sabbatical when you enter or there is a 'fairness' policy that prevents lecturers from overburdening themselves with too much of a supervision load. This is not absolutely necessary though for some of the larger departments in Oxford whom may assign you an available supervisor that could be separate from whom you requested on the application.

    Depending on how you have structured your research proposal when you apply, most PhD programs would still require you to take further research method modules. This is to help you best answer your research topic. Sometimes you'd be examined on these at the end of the year before being assessed by your personal Research Panel if you are fit to enter full-PhD student status. Throughout the degree you are expected to work independently and meet with your supervisor sometimes weekly to keep tabs on how your research is progressing so that you may survive the onslaught of your eventual thesis defense . You would also be asked to participate on graduate level seminars or research groups so you and your colleagues can receive and give each other feedback.
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    (Original post by PrimateJ)
    Gotchya. Out of curiosity, what do you work as? (If I understand you right, you're doing an undergrad course there and also working full time?)
    I'm doing an internship with the university libraries. Graduated last year and this is a work experience year thing before my masters.
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    (Original post by WaltzvWendt)
    For universities in general it is advisable that you contact someone from the staff who match your research interests before applying. This is primarily for practical reasons because some years lecturers can be on sabbatical when you enter or there is a 'fairness' policy that prevents lecturers from overburdening themselves with too much of a supervision load. This is not absolutely necessary though for some of the larger departments in Oxford whom may assign you an available supervisor that could be separate from whom you requested on the application.

    Depending on how you have structured your research proposal when you apply, most PhD programs would still require you to take further research method modules. This is to help you best answer your research topic. Sometimes you'd be examined on these at the end of the year before being assessed by your personal Research Panel if you are fit to enter full-PhD student status. Throughout the degree you are expected to work independently and meet with your supervisor sometimes weekly to keep tabs on how your research is progressing so that you may survive the onslaught of your eventual thesis defense . You would also be asked to participate on graduate level seminars or research groups so you and your colleagues can receive and give each other feedback.
    Thanks for the reply.
    These "further research method modules" - are they taught classes in the university itself? Are you assessed by a written exam? And only upon passing it are you considered as having "full-PhD student status"?

    And the graduate level seminars - are they just get-togethers of PhD students? Or are lecturers involved?

    Sorry about the onslaught of dumb questions.
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    (Original post by PrimateJ)
    Thanks for the reply.
    These "further research method modules" - are they taught classes in the university itself? Are you assessed by a written exam? And only upon passing it are you considered as having "full-PhD student status"?

    And the graduate level seminars - are they just get-togethers of PhD students? Or are lecturers involved?

    Sorry about the onslaught of dumb questions.
    Yup, taught in the university. No idea how they're assessed. To get full-PhD status, you have to pass your upgrade which is an assessment of your PhD written work and a smaller viva I believe - may be wrong though. It's a bit more than just passing research methods though.

    Tutors may well be at graduate seminars.
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    (Original post by PrimateJ)
    Thanks for the reply.
    These "further research method modules" - are they taught classes in the university itself? Are you assessed by a written exam? And only upon passing it are you considered as having "full-PhD student status"?

    And the graduate level seminars - are they just get-togethers of PhD students? Or are lecturers involved?

    Sorry about the onslaught of dumb questions.
    As apotoftea has said, there are other factors too. One of which normally includes a draft of the first two chapters (or one) 10,000-20,000 words or a revised proposal. Some Oxford departments with the research methods are based on written exams at the end. Some specific modules could replace it with a long essay. At LSE, which also deals with your subject matter, the modules you need can be audited and there is no strict guideline for a mark in the exams (just don't fail!)

    For entry into PhD status: At Oxford (in the dep't I'm looking at anyway) all of this is done first year you're called a "probationary research student". After passing that first year then you're called a full PhD student and you can start counting the course duration. Your entire postmasters would then look like 4 years, PRS+PhD.

    At LSE, you are assessed first year but are still considered an MPhil student in the MPhil/PhD. The mini-viva often occurs at the end of the 2nd year. So it's only at the beginning of your 3rd year you're considered full PhD (sucks!). But you can still teach undergrads at 2nd year.

    You'd often find graduate seminars housed with people in the same year as you. However there can be seminars that are open for you to attend that not only include your tutor but other full-staff at the department and higher-year students (at LSE for example). Sorry I keep mentioning the same 2 unis, but those were my two focuses, one of which I did a taught research masters and where my friends are:o: .
 
 
 

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