Turn on thread page Beta

Oxford vs. Durham watch

Announcements
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    Hi,

    I've just been accepted to read for a Ph.D. in Medieval French literature at both Durham and Oxford, and I really don't know which one to go for. Oxford clearly has a great reputation and fantastic resources, but Durham is where I did my BA and MA and my supervisor there is second to none - she's incredibly well regarded in the field and has all sorts of very useful contacts, whereas the Oxford supervisor is somewhat newer to the field and not as well known.

    My parents are putting major pressure on me to go for Oxford simply because of the name, but I think at this level there are other things to consider too! Does anyone have any advice for me? If it helps, I think it'll be Balliol college I end up at (though I'm still waiting for confirmation of that), so if anyone knows some inside tips about the college itself, that would also be helpful, but mainly it's really the academic issue I'm worried about... I guess it's contacts at Durham versus reputation at Oxford.

    Heeeeelllllppp!

    Leah :confused:
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    Do you intend to stay in academia?

    Balliol has a very cool MCR community.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    Yes, staying in academia is definitely the plan... Would you say that this would make a difference then?

    (Original post by shiny)
    Do you intend to stay in academia?

    Balliol has a very cool MCR community.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    Oxford- at the end of the day oxford is oxford
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    like you'd know, still being at school... there's a lot more to choosing a PhD than the name of the place
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    The academic reputation of Oxford is high. However, at Ph.D. level I am clueless as to if this really matters as much as it does at undergraduate level. On the assumption that it does, Oxford is the superior of the two and thus comes as my recommended choice. Especially as you wish to stay on in the field of academia it would make sense to study at a institution with such a well known name.
    Offline

    15
    Why should it have anything to do with your parents? They aren't the one doing the Ph.D are they?
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Leah81)
    Yes, staying in academia is definitely the plan... Would you say that this would make a difference then?
    It seems that your Durham supervisor has the greater experience and is sure to guide you towards a really good thesis as well as being a great reference for future careers. However, don't dismiss the Oxford person entirely, he/she could be a rising star in the field and you could potentially do some very innovative with them. What a nice choice to have
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    Personally I would pick Oxford for academic and reputation reasons. Maybe it would be better for you to experience a different city as well.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    In academia, it does not look good on your resume to have a BA, MA and Phd all from the same school. There is the expection that you should be progressing in your career, not just in terms of degrees, but in terms of insights and perspectives. I would choose Oxford, regardless of reputation, because it would offer you different opportunities from those you know at Durham.
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    If you want to stay in academia, go to Oxford. Staying in the same place for the whole of your academic training looks really bad on your CV...

    --------------

    (Original post by cmurphyenergy)
    In academia, it does not look good on your resume to have a BA, MA and Phd all from the same school. There is the expection that you should be progressing in your career, not just in terms of degrees, but in terms of insights and perspectives. I would choose Oxford, regardless of reputation, because it would offer you different opportunities from those you know at Durham.
    Agreed! I posted my response without reading more than the first post, but you've hit the nail on the head....
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by cmurphyenergy)
    In academia, it does not look good on your resume to have a BA, MA and Phd all from the same school. There is the expection that you should be progressing in your career, not just in terms of degrees, but in terms of insights and perspectives. I would choose Oxford, regardless of reputation, because it would offer you different opportunities from those you know at Durham.
    I'd tend to agree with that as well to a certain degree. While I certainly wouldn't chose Oxford just for the name, it will probably give you new perspectives on your work just due to the number of people there. I personally feel that changing university (between BA and MPhil admittedly) has benefited me greatly and made me encounter many new approaches to my field which I wouldn't necessarily have considered before.

    I can very well see your dilemma though as obviously having a good supervisor who is well-known in your field is an important point, too. Maybe there would be a chance of you meeting your prospective Oxford supervisor in person and discuss things in more detail.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    Just want to say thanks to everyone for the advice - I am taking it all into consideration, and will make my final decision when the college offer letter comes through...I've also got to consider the 'likelihood of funding' side of things too!
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Fluffy)
    If you want to stay in academia, go to Oxford. Staying in the same place for the whole of your academic training looks really bad on your CV...
    Does this only apply if staying in academia? I am planning to pursue a postgrad at my current university.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    I'm sure that you will be able to work alongside equally inspiring academics at Oxford. Well done, you've obviously achieved a lot already
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Fluffy)
    If you want to stay in academia, go to Oxford. Staying in the same place for the whole of your academic training looks really bad on your CV
    why is that? i personally dont see the problem.
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    It's not too bad doing UG and maters at the same place, but to go on and do PhD is not looked on too favourably - it looks like you've either been handed a PhD on a plate or looks like you were too scared to make the transition. It's about experiencing different things etc.

    All I know is that I've seen post-doc applications binned because of it...
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Fluffy)
    It's not too bad doing UG and maters at the same place, but to go on and do PhD is not looked on too favourably - it looks like you've either been handed a PhD on a plate or looks like you were too scared to make the transition. It's about experiencing different things etc.

    All I know is that I've seen post-doc applications binned because of it...
    Across all research areas or your own?
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    It's not too bad doing UG and maters at the same place, but to go on and do PhD is not looked on too favourably - it looks like you've either been handed a PhD on a plate or looks like you were too scared to make the transition. It's about experiencing different things etc.

    All I know is that I've seen post-doc applications binned because of it...
    I have to say, that bears no resemblance to my experience - off the top of my head, I can name three people whose CVs read 'BA MSci Ph.D. (Cantab.)'; they're currently en route to postdocs at, respectively, MIT, UPenn, and (I think) Trinity College, Dublin. For that matter, I know someone who did both his undergrad and Ph.D. at Oxford, and is now a lecturer at Cambridge: clearly, having stayed in one place for seven years isn't necessarily going to destroy one's chances in academia. Hell, take a look at these guys: http://www.its.caltech.edu/~dmacgrp/people.htm
    Of ten postdocs, four did all their training in one place. Since Caltech has a superb reputation and MacMillan is pretty much the reigning New Hotness in his discipline, it's not likely that he's taking bottom-of-the-barrel applicants.

    That said, I can imagine that supervisors would be wary of potential one-trick ponies, and it certainly might be detrimental if an applicant had worked on only one project during the entirety of their training. If, however, someone had worked in one lab for their master's and another for their Ph.D., and perhaps had one or two different summer studentships as an undergrad, I don't see that it would make any particular difference where those labs happened to be.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by jonnyofthedead)
    I have to say, that bears no resemblance to my experience - off the top of my head, I can name three people whose CVs read 'BA MSci Ph.D. (Cantab.)'; they're currently en route to postdocs at, respectively, MIT, UPenn, and (I think) Trinity College, Dublin. For that matter, I know someone who did both his undergrad and Ph.D. at Oxford, and is now a lecturer at Cambridge: clearly, having stayed in one place for seven years isn't necessarily going to destroy one's chances in academia. Hell, take a look at these guys: http://www.its.caltech.edu/~dmacgrp/people.htm
    Of ten postdocs, four did all their training in one place. Since Caltech has a superb reputation and MacMillan is pretty much the reigning New Hotness in his discipline, it's not likely that he's taking bottom-of-the-barrel applicants.

    That said, I can imagine that supervisors would be wary of potential one-trick ponies, and it certainly might be detrimental if an applicant had worked on only one project during the entirety of their training. If, however, someone had worked in one lab for their master's and another for their Ph.D., and perhaps had one or two different summer studentships as an undergrad, I don't see that it would make any particular difference where those labs happened to be.
    Irvine and Berkeley are members of the University of California which is different to Caltech.
 
 
 

University open days

  • University of Lincoln
    Brayford Campus Undergraduate
    Wed, 12 Dec '18
  • Bournemouth University
    Midwifery Open Day at Portsmouth Campus Undergraduate
    Wed, 12 Dec '18
  • Buckinghamshire New University
    All undergraduate Undergraduate
    Wed, 12 Dec '18
Poll
Do you like exams?

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Write a reply...
Reply
Hide
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.