Deciding factors on where to do a PhD

Watch
username1833127
Badges: 0
Rep:
?
#1
Report Thread starter 6 years ago
#1
Hi all,

I'm holding funded PhD offers for two universities, but I've got no idea how I'm going to decide which to accept. So I was hoping you could share the reasons you chose the university you did for your PhD, and whether that was a good or bad decision.

Thanks,

Joe
0
reply
alleycat393
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#2
Report 6 years ago
#2
Your first priority should be project followed closely by supervisor. You also want to think about the experiences of other people in the group and how big the group is, how much funding they have, what facilities you'll have access to, whether you'll be able to go to conferences and collaborate.
0
reply
username1833127
Badges: 0
Rep:
?
#3
Report Thread starter 6 years ago
#3
Thanks. Well the project is the same for both, so it's all about the supervisor. Oh dear. That makes things difficult.

Cheers,

Joe
0
reply
poohat
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#4
Report 6 years ago
#4
prestige prestige presage, and nothing else

unless you are in a very select few fields (economics, engineering, etc) you cant guarantee an academic job afterwards so you should be picking with an industry career in mind. The top 5 UK places (Oxbridge/London) dominate the rest and if you have an offer from one of them then you should go. If you dont then you should seriously consider whether its worth doing a PhD at all - there are a handful of other places that have prestigious programs in certain areas (Warwick/Edinburgh/etc) but with the vast majority of other places you are likely to end up in 3 years clutching your PhD diploma and yet being no more employable than a fresh undergrad,, except that you are now in your late 20s earning a crappy £25k salary when all your undergrad friends are on £40k+

Go to Oxbridge (or similar) and dont look back. Ignore the people who say "pick based on your supervisor" - they are under the delusion they will get a permanent academic job which they wont, except in a handful of fields. Most likely you will end up in industry, in which case noone cares who supervised you.
1
reply
Cora Lindsay
Badges: 10
Rep:
?
#5
Report 6 years ago
#5
At PhD level in science and engineering, institutional 'prestige' can correlate very poorly with quality of research training so it's not the prestige of the insttution that matters but the prestige of the group or centre you do your PhD in, a large part of which is down to the academics involved. For example, Rolls-Royce has 19 University Technology Centres in the UK in 14 different universities, many which wouldn't normally make a TSR list of prestigious institutions (e.g. Loughborough, Stratchclyde, Surrey, Swansea) but, if you want an industry career, then going through a RR UTC is massively helpful. So I agree you should choose on the basis of prestige, but you need to be very careful how you define that- it is certainly not just an OX or CB postcode.
2
reply
alleycat393
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#6
Report 6 years ago
#6
I have to agree with Cora Lindsay. In my few years of working and collaborating with academics from both industry and academia I've never been asked or heard of anyone being asked about which uni they're from. It's always about who have you worked with/for. But then again this may be field specific...
0
reply
LSD
Badges: 17
Rep:
?
#7
Report 6 years ago
#7
I applied during my final year of BSc and received funded offers from;

Newcastle - 3 years
Glasgow - 4 years
Edinburgh - 3 years
Edinburgh - 3.5 years
Stirling - 3.5 years

I did my undergrad in Glasgow and when it came to choosing I decided to stay in Glasgow. I'm not so sure where the decision came from as I'm aware that employers like you to have moved around and not stayed in the same place to study for 7-8 years. Part of it was the 4 years of funding (more money security I guess) and part of it was already having a flat in Glasgow and knowing people in Glasgow, comfort essentially. Though this is not a good reason to pick somewhere! The projects offered on the 4 year programme were also very good and all in all staying outweighed leaving. I'm happy here and feel like I made a good choice (but I guess I'll never know what the other places are like anyway!)


Posted from TSR Mobile
0
reply
Misovlogos
Badges: 12
Rep:
?
#8
Report 6 years ago
#8
(Original post by JJBB123)
Hi all,

I'm holding funded PhD offers for two universities, but I've got no idea how I'm going to decide which to accept. So I was hoping you could share the reasons you chose the university you did for your PhD, and whether that was a good or bad decision.

Thanks,

Joe
Something like,

Funding -> -> Institutional prestige -> -> Your interests -> Academic community -> Supervisor prestige.

As above, second to funding, the pedigree of the university is easily most determinate of your future opportunities. In general, the order of pedigree is something like: Oxbridge, Imperial and LSE, and then a host of universities which are more inconsistent across subjects, i.e. Edinburgh, Bristol, KCL, St. Andrews.
0
reply
madamemerle
Badges: 10
Rep:
?
#9
Report 6 years ago
#9
I'd add: funding/cost of living ratio. The same funding might have you scraping by in London, or able to generate significant savings somewhere else...
0
reply
madamemerle
Badges: 10
Rep:
?
#10
Report 6 years ago
#10
(Original post by poohat)
prestige prestige presage, and nothing else

unless you are in a very select few fields (economics, engineering, etc) you cant guarantee an academic job afterwards so you should be picking with an industry career in mind. The top 5 UK places (Oxbridge/London) dominate the rest and if you have an offer from one of them then you should go. If you dont then you should seriously consider whether its worth doing a PhD at all - there are a handful of other places that have prestigious programs in certain areas (Warwick/Edinburgh/etc) but with the vast majority of other places you are likely to end up in 3 years clutching your PhD diploma and yet being no more employable than a fresh undergrad,, except that you are now in your late 20s earning a crappy £25k salary when all your undergrad friends are on £40k+

Go to Oxbridge (or similar) and dont look back. Ignore the people who say "pick based on your supervisor" - they are under the delusion they will get a permanent academic job which they wont, except in a handful of fields. Most likely you will end up in industry, in which case noone cares who supervised you.
In my humanities subfield, very few recent jobs have gone to Oxbridge grads, presumably because they are generally terrible places to study my subject. Instead the prime jobs have gone to those with PhDs from Sussex, Birkbeck, Nottingham, and Queen Mary (none of which would fare too well in your prestige table, presumably?). Anyway, it's a small area, but your pronouncements are ridiculously broad-brush when we all know that Oxbridge doesn't have the best support/faculty/resources in all academic areas.
0
reply
apotoftea
Badges: 19
Rep:
?
#11
Report 6 years ago
#11
(Original post by poohat)
Go to Oxbridge (or similar) and dont look back. Ignore the people who say "pick based on your supervisor" - they are under the delusion they will get a permanent academic job which they wont, except in a handful of fields. Most likely you will end up in industry, in which case noone cares who supervised you.
And you're under the delusion that Oxbridge means EVERYTHING at PhD level. It doesn't.
1
reply
Klix88
Badges: 17
Rep:
?
#12
Report 6 years ago
#12
Have to echo the above sentiments. I went to Oxford in the early 80s and the subject I studied there has completed stagnated. The professor who taught me has only just retired and was replaced by someone he taught. Nobody with half an idea about the field would do postgrad in that subject at Oxford unless they intended to work there. Certainly nobody with innovative ideas need apply.

At the other end of the scale, Bournemouth barely tickles the mid-range of most league tables, but it houses the National Centre for Computer Animation which had 50 industry-funded PhDs on offer a couple of years ago. They had 80 graduates working on Avatar, their graduates include Oscar and BAFTA winners and there's an industry standard studio on the neighbouring campus where commercial work is done on Hollywood blockbusters by students - the most recent being Interstellar. It's one of the top places to study in the UK if you want to work in that branch of the film industry.

In summary: Know your field and know what you want to do afterwards. The prestige of the organisation can be a red herring and should always be trumped by the reputation of the department.
1
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts
Back
to top
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise

Feeling behind at school/college? What is the best thing your teachers could to help you catch up?

Extra compulsory independent learning activities (eg, homework tasks) (5)
5.05%
Run extra compulsory lessons or workshops (14)
14.14%
Focus on making the normal lesson time with them as high quality as possible (19)
19.19%
Focus on making the normal learning resources as high quality/accessible as possible (10)
10.1%
Provide extra optional activities, lessons and/or workshops (33)
33.33%
Assess students, decide who needs extra support and focus on these students (18)
18.18%

Watched Threads

View All