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    I know these sort of 'am I good enough' threads are posted all the time - sorry!

    I am in year 3 of 4 doing an integrated masters course in a life science at an averagely placed Russell group Uni, I'm on for a 1st. I will hopefully be getting a funded summer studentship in an area at a slight tangent to my proposed Phd research area.

    What are my chances of getting a funded Phd place at a top tier University (Oxbridge, UCL etc..) What can I do with the rest of my time at university to improve these chances? I do plenty of extracurricular - does this have any bearing or is admission based solely on academic performance?

    Thanks in advance
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    Get a 1st.

    Find a supervisor. During your final year, scour all the sources for PhDs - findaphd.com, jobs.ac.uk etc. Contact anyone and everyone in and around your area of interest. Be prepared to change your idea to fit with the supervisor. You also find specific PhDs advertised with the topic already decided. The wider you spread you net the better the chances.

    These semi-formal enquiries are useful because PhD funding is often haphazard, and you may just get into a supervisor's mind when she gets funding if you have contacted her a few weeks or months prior.

    Work as a research assistant. This is the probably most relevant work experience you can do. If it's paid, even better. It needn't be exactly in the area, just close enough. Hopefully it will show that you can learn new skills, follow instructions, analyse data and so on.

    Be persistent. Even if you do all those things, you most likely will fail to get funding. So keep applying year on year, if you're really keen. You may well need to work in the meantime.

    I also note that you are aiming for a "top Russell group" uni. Why? It's more important to do the right project for you and find the right supervisor. What if that happens to be in another institution? No-one really cares where you did your PhD once you've done it. They will care about the publications you have.
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    (Original post by chazwomaq)
    I also note that you are aiming for a "top Russell group" uni. Why? It's more important to do the right project for you and find the right supervisor. What if that happens to be in another institution? No-one really cares where you did your PhD once you've done it. They will care about the publications you have.
    I dont think this is good advice; the life sciences job market is a bloodbath, and the chance of getting a permanent academic job after the PhD is very slim. This means that realistically you will probably end up in industry, and to non-academics, institutional prestige makes a big difference. Doing a PhD at a non top 5-10 university just to work with a big-name supervisor is a gamble, because your industry prospects are going to be limited (unless your supervisor has good industry links)
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    (Original post by poohat)
    I dont think this is good advice; the life sciences job market is a bloodbath, and the chance of getting a permanent academic job after the PhD is very slim. This means that realistically you will probably end up in industry, and to non-academics, institutional prestige makes a big difference. Doing a PhD at a non top 5-10 university just to work with a big-name supervisor is a gamble, because your industry prospects are going to be limited (unless your supervisor has good industry links)
    Yeah, I was thinking about academic appointments. In terms of industry, you may be right.
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    (Original post by poohat)
    I dont think this is good advice; the life sciences job market is a bloodbath, and the chance of getting a permanent academic job after the PhD is very slim. This means that realistically you will probably end up in industry, and to non-academics, institutional prestige makes a big difference. Doing a PhD at a non top 5-10 university just to work with a big-name supervisor is a gamble, because your industry prospects are going to be limited (unless your supervisor has good industry links)
    I disagree. Even in industry, your publication record and supervisor's reputation means more than the reputation of the institution that you've come out of. The field in general is very incestuous and people know each other from having worked together or through conferences whether they work in academia or industry. It's a different story if you're going into industry after having completed a bachelors or a taught masters degree because the quality of those is institution specific but the quality of research you do is research group specific no matter where you are.
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    It's likely that I will go into industry afterwards. From what I've heard institutional reputation> supervisor reputation (Although who is to say I can't have both?).

    Does anyone have any other tips to bolster my application?
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    (Original post by Ben4757)
    It's likely that I will go into industry afterwards. From what I've heard institutional reputation> supervisor reputation (Although who is to say I can't have both?).

    Does anyone have any other tips to bolster my application?
    You can most certainly have both but I still have to disagree about institutional vs supervisor reputation from working in industry and collaborating and keeping in touch with industry scientists at some of the big pharmas. The research and publications come first and your networks come second. No one asks you about where you studied except to find out how to keep in touch with you.


    Quote if you want a reply!
    BSc Biochemistry with a year in industry, University of York
    PhD in molecular biology, Queen Mary University of London
 
 
 
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