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    Basically, I want to hear your views - is it better to go to a much lower grade university with funding or a highly esteemed university that offers no funding for a three-year PhD?

    Also, do you think that you have to have very similar beliefs/research interests to your PhD supervisor? The thesis I am doing actually departs from my supervisors beliefs and I think she actually would not agree with some of the perspectives that I plan to theorise - does this matter?

    Finally, can anyone offer any advice on the marking process of PhD's - I am very worried that after three years I will not get a PhD in case my work is not 'up to scratch' in this new, more academically rigorous university?

    Thank-you in advance for helping out a poor ol' postgrad!
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    (Original post by BlueLohmond)
    Basically, I want to hear your views - is it better to go to a much lower grade university with funding or a highly esteemed university that offers no funding for a three-year PhD?
    Neither option is great. You shouldnt really do an unfunded PhD unless you are either independently wealthy or in a highly employable (and well paid) field, and you will struggle to place well with a PhD from a low ranked place unless you are exceptional. But it depends just how 'lower grade' you are talking about.

    (Original post by BlueLohmond)
    Also, do you think that you have to have very similar beliefs/research interests to your PhD supervisor? The thesis I am doing actually departs from my supervisors beliefs and I think she actually would not agree with some of the perspectives that I plan to theorise - does this matter?
    Depends entirely on context, impossible to say in general.

    (Original post by BlueLohmond)
    Finally, can anyone offer any advice on the marking process of PhD's - I am very worried that after three years I will not get a PhD in case my work is not 'up to scratch' in this new, more academically rigorous university?
    Its rare for people to fail a viva, if you are bad then you (should) either be kicked out before then, or you will scrape through the viva and then bomb on the job market afterwards due to having no good publications/research and lacklustre letters of recommendation. Typically as a PhD student you should be more worried about placing well after you finish, than the viva itself. Although having said that, some people do of course fail, and others never manage to get a thesis together and end up dropping out.
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    The university shouldn't matter if the department/group is good. So first check for that.
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    (Original post by BlueLohmond)
    Basically, I want to hear your views - is it better to go to a much lower grade university with funding or a highly esteemed university that offers no funding for a three-year PhD?
    You should focus less on the university's rating and more on the department, research group and your supervisor's reputation within your field. There is some excellent (widely recognised) work going on in "lesser" universities which, if they are big in your field, will counter-act the general reputation of the university. Bear in mind too that lower ranked unis will often have less money available for peripheral (but still essential) activities like conferences, research trips and equipment, as well as poorer (in a monetary sense) libraries and labs. But, in the end, (unless you're independently wealthy), funding trumps all.

    (Original post by BlueLohmond)
    Also, do you think that you have to have very similar beliefs/research interests to your PhD supervisor? The thesis I am doing actually departs from my supervisors beliefs and I think she actually would not agree with some of the perspectives that I plan to theorise - does this matter?
    I think this depends very much on the supervisor. If they (and you don't mind it) then having different approaches could be very helpful and could help to make your work more watertight and rounded. However, if it's a matter of basic principles and if your supervisor is stubborn, you could end up in weekly screaming matches. Proceed with caution. I would advise getting in touch and explaining how you would like to approach your project, say you know she has different views and ask if she thinks it would work and if she's still willing to work with you using your approaches.

    (Original post by BlueLohmond)
    Finally, can anyone offer any advice on the marking process of PhD's - I am very worried that after three years I will not get a PhD in case my work is not 'up to scratch' in this new, more academically rigorous university?

    Thank-you in advance for helping out a poor ol' postgrad!
    The standard is (in theory) the same in every university, since your PhD will be marked externally by a panel of experts. If your work is not up to scratch, no reasonable supervisor (in any university, no matter where it's ranked) will let you submit until you've fixed the problems.
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    The reputation of the university shouldn't matter, gaining funding on the other hand, looks really good.

    I'd take the funding any day, as long as you like the supervisor and the research output is decent enough.

    I would also add that if your supervisor isn't on board with your project then you're gonna have a baaad time...
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    (Original post by BlueLohmond)
    Basically, I want to hear your views - is it better to go to a much lower grade university with funding or a highly esteemed university that offers no funding for a three-year PhD?
    Funding, whether you have the money or not (within reason).

    (Original post by BlueLohmond)
    Also, do you think that you have to have very similar beliefs/research interests to your PhD supervisor? The thesis I am doing actually departs from my supervisors beliefs and I think she actually would not agree with some of the perspectives that I plan to theorise - does this matter?
    If your supervisor has opposing views then surely she will be an effective critic for you?

    And doesn't your supervisor already know your research proposal so presumably she doesn't deem it a problem (perhaps she too wants someone to bounce ideas off?)
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    Thank-you all for your helpful responses - please, please more responses to help me make this decision!

    Basically, I am caught in a trap of not knowing whether to choose the funded option at a university which is not on the ranking list or a non-funded (at least for the first year) phd at a university that is world renowned. I was under the impression that you should choose the university with the best research rating? Also, I strongly feel elitism still influences academia - if I go for a lecturing position will I be likely to get the job if they haven't heard of my university???
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    (Original post by BlueLohmond)
    Thank-you all for your helpful responses - please, please more responses to help me make this decision!

    Basically, I am caught in a trap of not knowing whether to choose the funded option at a university which is not on the ranking list or a non-funded (at least for the first year) phd at a university that is world renowned. I was under the impression that you should choose the university with the best research rating? Also, I strongly feel elitism still influences academia - if I go for a lecturing position will I be likely to get the job if they haven't heard of my university???
    What is the funding source, how 'unranked' is the university, how big is the department, and how renowned is the supervisor?
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    (Original post by BlueLohmond)
    Thank-you all for your helpful responses - please, please more responses to help me make this decision!

    Basically, I am caught in a trap of not knowing whether to choose the funded option at a university which is not on the ranking list or a non-funded (at least for the first year) phd at a university that is world renowned. I was under the impression that you should choose the university with the best research rating? Also, I strongly feel elitism still influences academia - if I go for a lecturing position will I be likely to get the job if they haven't heard of my university???
    This is one of those situations when you can actually ask a relevant person. Obviously not the potential Supervisor at the funded but less prestigious University, but you can be open and up-front with the Supervisor from the unfunded University.

    Remember, unlike undergrad and most Masters degrees where offer holders are pretty unknown, for a PhD a Supervisor has usually made a well informed decision and wants you to join them. At best, your potential Supervisor might find you some funding (though probably not all), at worst, they will suggest you follow the money. Either way, you won't have burnt any bridges with them, and they are in the ideal position to know the sector, know their department and know you.
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    (Original post by BlueLohmond)
    Thank-you all for your helpful responses - please, please more responses to help me make this decision!

    Basically, I am caught in a trap of not knowing whether to choose the funded option at a university which is not on the ranking list or a non-funded (at least for the first year) phd at a university that is world renowned. I was under the impression that you should choose the university with the best research rating? Also, I strongly feel elitism still influences academia - if I go for a lecturing position will I be likely to get the job if they haven't heard of my university???
    But for an academic position it is the reputation of your supervisor and the research group that matters. As many people have already said, there are some excellent groups in universities with 'low reputations', and the flip side is also true- there are some rubbish supervisors and groups in 'good' universities.

    What's important is to do your PhD in a well regarded group. The availability of funding could actually be a useful indicator of how well a supervisor is regarded because funding bodies don't allocate PhD funding to poor supervisors.
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    (Original post by Kitty Pimms)
    What is the funding source, how 'unranked' is the university, how big is the department, and how renowned is the supervisor?
    Thanks for your message, the funding source is within the department. The university used to be a polytechnic - quite a small department.

    The university where I would not get funding but is ranked a great deal more highly has a larger department.
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    Thank-you again for your responses - they have brought up suggestions that I had not considered. Before this, everyone at uni automatically said - yes, definitely go the more highly ranked university - it is fantastic. Whereas, everyone outside of university could not understand why I would turn down funding...

    Decisions, decisions...
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    Just a question about "reputation of supervisor" .... given supervisors can and do move before students have finished their PhDs, how important should this be really vs say overall department reputation?
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    (Original post by BlueLohmond)
    Thanks for your message, the funding source is within the department. The university used to be a polytechnic - quite a small department.

    The university where I would not get funding but is ranked a great deal more highly has a larger department.
    I understand if you don't want to say, but what's the subject? There may be people floating around who could comment on the specifics.
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    (Original post by sj27)
    Just a question about "reputation of supervisor" .... given supervisors can and do move before students have finished their PhDs, how important should this be really vs say overall department reputation?
    Students often move with supervisors. Things are generally sorted out on a case-by-case basis but if there is nobody else who can supervise a student then they really have to move with the supervisor
 
 
 
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