siamakdie
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I'm a type of person who is good at exams, but awful at coursework. The problem i find with coursework is that i can't get my point across when writing them. I usually have mediocre experiences with them.

I was wondering if PhD is similar? Also what would happen if i fail my PhD? Would i need to redo it all from the start?
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opalescent
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Which subject are you thinking of doing a PhD in? A PhD usually only involves one exam, your viva, which is oral - a panel of academics will question you closely on your thesis. The thesis is a research project of about 60,000 to 100,00 words in length, depending on your subject (my thesis has a word limit of 80,000, but I know people in other areas who have higher limits). A PhD involves lots of self-directed working and if you struggle with coursework, then I'm not sure you'd cope with a book-length project.

If you fail it there is the option to resubmit your thesis after making heavy revisions or to exit with a lower award (an MPhil). You can't just start again from scratch, as a PhD isn't a taught course. It's research-based rather than class-based, and you are given a set time frame in which to complete it.
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username848676
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Is this the same for a Masters?

(Original post by opalescent)
Which subject are you thinking of doing a PhD in? A PhD usually only involves one exam, your viva, which is oral - a panel of academics will question you closely on your thesis. The thesis is a research project of about 60,000 to 100,00 words in length, depending on your subject (my thesis has a word limit of 80,000, but I know people in other areas who have higher limits). A PhD involves lots of self-directed working and if you struggle with coursework, then I'm not sure you'd cope with a book-length project.

If you fail it there is the option to resubmit your thesis after making heavy revisions or to exit with a lower award (an MPhil). You can't just start again from scratch, as a PhD isn't a taught course. It's research-based rather than class-based, and you are given a set time frame in which to complete it.
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Ellim
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Just to add to what opalescent has said:

It is practically impossible to 'fail' a PhD. The majority of people who do not complete drop out at some stage (or are asked to leave). Once you submit you generally get three goes at the viva voce (oral exam) before you're denied anything at all.

You can be given an MPhil, which a lot of people consider to be a 'failed PhD' (and, in fact, you will hear it called a failed PhD all over this forum). It's not technically a 'fail' as you leave with a qualification.

If you have issues with writing there is a huge amount of support that you can choose to take up to improve your writing. (at my uni, and a lot of other unis I know people as, so I'm just assuming at the vast majority of unis). Again, it depends a lot on what your subject is as to how important writing will be - in humanities subjects it is probably the most important thing, but in - say - maths, then the maths would obviously be the most important and the writing style would be almost secondary. (Read peer reviewed articles from humanities and medicine and you will understand what I mean about this).

Himynameskiefer: at my university there is no viva for an MA thesis, and no opportunity to resubmit. If you fail the thesis but pass the coursework you get a PG certificate. You can reenrol and ONLY take the thesis though, to 'upgrade' the qualification. (this is at my current university)
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chickpea123
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I'm not sure what happens at other universities, but my PhD programme has three check-in points where I have to submit reports and speak to people about my progress, so it wouldn't be a case of 'failing' it (much like Ellim has said) - any problems would be picked up earlier than that.
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nulli tertius
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Most outright fails involve significant plagiarism.

In some disciplines, some social sciences and some hard sciences, novelty can be a real issue. At most universities failure to add something new to the store of knowledge is an automatic MPhil (MLitt at some universities).
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Klix88
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(Original post by chickpea123)
I'm not sure what happens at other universities, but my PhD programme has three check-in points where I have to submit reports and speak to people about my progress, so it wouldn't be a case of 'failing' it (much like Ellim has said) - any problems would be picked up earlier than that.
My uni is similar to this. My PhD has a formal Annual Review at the end of each academic year and we're technically not permitted to enrol for the next academic year unless we pass these. Our Annual Review reports have to be countersigned by our supervisors with their comments, and are assessed by our faculty's Head of Research. In addition, we're obliged to organise and minute a minumum of three formal meetings with our supervisors each year, in which both we and they must raise any concerns and agree steps to rectify problems or refocus research.

This process doesn't eliminate the risk of major corrections/failure as a final outcome, but it does reduce it significantly. If we reach the final viva and end up with an MPhil, then something has gone severely wrong with either the final year's work, the final year's supervision, or the viva assessment.
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username848676
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(Original post by Ellim)

Himynameskiefer: at my university there is no viva for an MA thesis, and no opportunity to resubmit. If you fail the thesis but pass the coursework you get a PG certificate. You can reenrol and ONLY take the thesis though, to 'upgrade' the qualification. (this is at my current university)
Thanks! Which University is this if you do not mind me asking?

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Cora Lindsay
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Fails are rare and almost certainly reflect poor supervision. As someone said earlier, most students who are on track to fail either leave of their own accord, or are managed out long before submission. Any submitted thesis should have been carefully read by the supervisor before submission and any problems should be picked up and rectified at that stage.
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Ellim
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(Original post by Cora Lindsay)
Fails are rare and almost certainly reflect poor supervision.
SOME are the result of poor supervision, but NOT 'almost certainly'. That's particularly harsh and unfair. A lot of fails (and even more non-completes) are the fault of students. At the doctoral level you should be able to a) work independently and b) take responsibility for your own research.

Even with bad supervision you should be able to pass and do well.
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Ellim
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(Original post by Himynameskiefer)
Thanks! Which University is this if you do not mind me asking?

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One of the top Uni of London colleges. And, I know two others have the same.
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arminb
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Although this is rare, but ,as years of research suggests, there are 3 options to choose from:
1. You do it again
2. you don't do it again
3. You look at your reflection in the mirror and sing James Blunt
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Cora Lindsay
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(Original post by Ellim)
SOME are the result of poor supervision, but NOT 'almost certainly'. That's particularly harsh and unfair. A lot of fails (and even more non-completes) are the fault of students. At the doctoral level you should be able to a) work independently and b) take responsibility for your own research.

Even with bad supervision you should be able to pass and do well.
Hmmm. I see a substantial difference between non-completion, which can be a result of a recognition that, for whatever reason, the student-supervisor-project combination is not going to work, and a failure at viva. If the combination is not working, then there are things that can be done- change of project scope, change of supervisors, exit with MPhil, walk away.... Nobody really gains by going all the way to viva and then failing.

A fail suggests to me that the student-supervisor-project combination was not right, and that was not picked up in enough time to do something about it. The responsibility for spotting such a problem developing, and acting, rests with the supervisor in my view. The student is too inexperienced to take that responsibility.

If a student, for example, insists on ignoring their supervisor's advice and does it 'their way' and fails, I'd certainly see that as the student's fault, but I have only ever seen that situation develop once (and the student actually passed, thanks to a sympathetic external), whereas I have seen, and examined, numerous examples of decent students presenting iffy theses which clearly lacked sufficient supervisor input.

I'd agree that a good student should be able to rise above poor supervision, but less strong students can be dragged down to the point where they are vulnerable, whereas they wouldn't be with a good supervisor.
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Ellim
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(Original post by Cora Lindsay)
Hmmm. I see a substantial difference between non-completion, which can be a result of a recognition that, for whatever reason, the student-supervisor-project combination is not going to work, and a failure at viva. If the combination is not working, then there are things that can be done- change of project scope, change of supervisors, exit with MPhil, walk away.... Nobody really gains by going all the way to viva and then failing.

A fail suggests to me that the student-supervisor-project combination was not right, and that was not picked up in enough time to do something about it. The responsibility for spotting such a problem developing, and acting, rests with the supervisor in my view. The student is too inexperienced to take that responsibility.

If a student, for example, insists on ignoring their supervisor's advice and does it 'their way' and fails, I'd certainly see that as the student's fault, but I have only ever seen that situation develop once (and the student actually passed, thanks to a sympathetic external), whereas I have seen, and examined, numerous examples of decent students presenting iffy theses which clearly lacked sufficient supervisor input.

I'd agree that a good student should be able to rise above poor supervision, but less strong students can be dragged down to the point where they are vulnerable, whereas they wouldn't be with a good supervisor.
While I agree with pretty much everything you've said, I would say that perhaps a 'less strong' student shouldn't be in academia in the first place. A student who cannot complete their own project doesn't really deserve a PhD. I know a few doctors who I don't think deserve their PhDs because they were hand-held a little too much.
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Cora Lindsay
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(Original post by Ellim)
I know a few doctors who I don't think deserve their PhDs because they were hand-held a little too much.
There's certainly a good deal of truth in that, and I can think of a few of my 'products' who are a bit embarrassing, though quality of students is difficult to judge before you start a project. Some stars at undergrad fade away during a PhD while others, whose undergrad performance is modest, really take off. Sometimes students are nice, work hard but aren't the sharpest knife in the drawer- do you really let them sink or swim, or do you help them out just a bit more? And what do you do about the really bright, but lazy one? It's all shades of grey rather than black or white.
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Scathac
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I know this is an old thread, but for anyone who is looking at it now ... my experience does not reflect any of the above.
My thesis as rejected and I was given 18months (part time) to revise and resubmit. My resub directly addressed the examiners' recommendations, was closely supervised, and reviewed and approved by my Dean. It was rejected again. I was devastated. I appealed and a new panel of examiners was selected. My thesis was re-examined, I had a second viva, and passed with NO CORRECTIONS. One of the panel described my work as "brilliant" Another (there were 2 external and 1 internal examiners) actually asked if he could use my design model as an exemplar in his own institution.
So - never give up! If you have faith in your work - push it!
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phdstories
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Very motivating post Scathac! I am in a similar situation and need to resubmit in the next few months. I have been so devastated since I had my Viva and I am losing interest in my own work. I absolutely feel emotionally drained...
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