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I have applied to too many universities, and now I can't decide (MRes bioscience) watch

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    Being an international student (Germany) I did not know what to expext and therefore expected not to get in anywhere... So I applied to many universites.
    I want to do a masters degree in bioscience (preferably structural biology emphasis). MRes degrees are most interesting to me, because I want to do a PhD afterwards and want to use the masters degree to get used to the research intense work and to studying in an english speaking country at the same time.
    Now I need your help to decide.

    Bath: MRes Protein Structure and function
    Nottingham: MRes at the School of Pharmacy (structural biology)
    UCL: MRes Bioscience
    Leeds: MSc Bioscience / MSc Biotechnology
    Newcastle: MSc Computational Systems Biology
    Glasgow: MRes Biomedical Science (Biotechnology)
    Edinburgh: MSc Systems and Synthetic Biology
    Liverpool: MRes Advanced Biological Science

    So my thoughts are: Throw out all non MRes degrees? Not sure...
    Throw out UCL (I would LOOOVE to go, but I have a child, so I really dont think I have any chance to afford it, since life is so expensive there, and I cannot live in one room as I would have, had it been just me. My boyfriend would be working, but to live off of one income and pay for childcare is simply not possible there... )

    If it were you, how would you chose?
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    If you want to do a research based PhD then make sure you definitely pick an MRes and not an MSc to start with. If you have a child then you will need to think of living costs and childcare costs etc. so you're probably right in cutting out London universities. The MRes biomedical science programme at Glasgow is very good and the city is great and cheap enough to live in, but I can't really speak for any of the other universities because I haven't been to them!


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    Thanks a lot for your thoughts! I didnt write it in my post because i didnt want to influence too much. But considering i have to throw out london anyway, glasgow would have been my choice as well. But i wanted to hear other peoples thoughts first. And yes, i would very much prefer an mres over an msc especially considering i will do a phd afterwards.

    Plus the university is ooold and beautiful hehe so i will probably be going to hogwarts then
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    (Original post by Nuya)
    Thanks a lot for your thoughts! I didnt write it in my post because i didnt want to influence too much. But considering i have to throw out london anyway, glasgow would have been my choice as well. But i wanted to hear other peoples thoughts first. And yes, i would very much prefer an mres over an msc especially considering i will do a phd afterwards.

    Plus the university is ooold and beautiful hehe so i will probably be going to hogwarts then
    Edinburgh is family friendly and a really nice city to live within. The MSc/MRes argument is a bit interesting.

    I would prefer an MSc over an MRes as I would do 3 years of pure research after the Masters.
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    (Original post by Masoudy)
    Edinburgh is family friendly and a really nice city to live within. The MSc/MRes argument is a bit interesting.

    I would prefer an MSc over an MRes as I would do 3 years of pure research after the Masters.
    Unfortunately PhD interview panels prefer an MRes over an MSc, they want people with loads of research experience, not people who've spent the best part of another year sitting in lectures.


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    (Original post by LSD)
    Unfortunately PhD interview panels prefer an MRes over an MSc, they want people with loads of research experience, not people who've spent the best part of another year sitting in lectures.
    I disagree. Most bioscience MScs have a substantial lab-based research component and are, at least in my experience, well regarded by interview panels.

    As an example from OP's list, the Leeds Bioscience MSc has a 6 month lab-based research project following a 6 month taught component. Is this enough experience to win PhD funding? Absolutely. Would they choose another candidate just because they have an MRes instead? No.

    I originally wanted to do an MRes because I heard it was necessary to do a PhD. I ended up doing an MSc instead and I'm glad I did. The taught component was highly rewarding and the 6 months lab experience was enough to get multiple PhD offers. In fact, the same proportion of students at my uni go on to PhDs from MScs and MRes.

    My advice would be not to rule out taught MScs but to make your choice based on the course content and what you want to do afterwards. If you want to do a lab-based PhD then I'd pick a course with some lab experience, but that doesn't necessarily have to be an MRes.

    Good luck wit your decision- you have some good looking options!
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    (Original post by xenophile)
    I disagree. Most bioscience MScs have a substantial lab-based research component and are, at least in my experience, well regarded by interview panels.

    As an example from OP's list, the Leeds Bioscience MSc has a 6 month lab-based research project following a 6 month taught component. Is this enough experience to win PhD funding? Absolutely. Would they choose another candidate just because they have an MRes instead? No.

    I originally wanted to do an MRes because I heard it was necessary to do a PhD. I ended up doing an MSc instead and I'm glad I did. The taught component was highly rewarding and the 6 months lab experience was enough to get multiple PhD offers. In fact, the same proportion of students at my uni go on to PhDs from MScs and MRes.

    My advice would be not to rule out taught MScs but to make your choice based on the course content and what you want to do afterwards. If you want to do a lab-based PhD then I'd pick a course with some lab experience, but that doesn't necessarily have to be an MRes.

    Good luck wit your decision- you have some good looking options!
    Highly regarded - yes. As highly regarded as MRes - no. Most MRes degrees in bioscience are 2/3 lab based and 1/3 taught and therefore include more than 6 months of lab experience. Put a person with a distinction MRes against a person with a distinction MSc and it's easy to see who'll have more experience and who'll be more likely to get the position.


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    (Original post by LSD)
    Put a person with a distinction MRes against a person with a distinction MSc and it's easy to see who'll have more experience and who'll be more likely to get the position.
    PhD applicants are assessed on their potential to do high quality work over a 3-4 year project. Having 9 months lab experience at masters level instead of 6 doesn't really demonstrate anything about this potential.

    Why do some of the most competetive PhD positions go to students right from undergrad? Because their experience is more than enough to demonstrate their capability to succeed at PhD level.

    As I said before, it would be a mistake to rule out a masters course because it isn't called an MRes. The course content, supervision and the university itself are all more important considerations if you want to go on to do a PhD.
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    Ok, i see that there appear to be a lot of different opinions on the matter.
    How would you guys rank the universities then, regardless of MRes or MSc, just the Universities for postgrad Bioscience programmes (structural biology emphasis) in general? (especially considering "prestigue", which ones are considered "better"?) I have a bit of a hard time with the rankings. Of course I know the really BIG names, like cambridge, but below that it gets quite fuzzy. I picked Universities out of rankings that mainly weren't too low, but not too high either, and then I checked their Bioscience programmes and research, if it interested me or not, and than I had the list of Universites I applied to. But I don't really know how the ones I applied to really compare to one another. Of course I can look at the rankings, but there are so many factores influencing the rankings... :confused:
    Since I got accepted to all the programmes I applied to and have not received any rejections, I was wondering if I should send one more application to Cambridge, just to receive a "reject"

    No seriously, about the MRes/MSc question: regardless of whether or not it makes a difference regarding my chances of getting into a PhD programme afterwards, I would personally prefer an MRes over a MSc programme (it is part of the reason why I want to do my postgraduate studies in the UK rather than in Germany. Because here we don't have the option to chose, here there are only MSc and they are all 2 years). So the UK offers the great possibility for me to get into research intense work a lot sooner than "back home". Plus I never really wanted to stay in Germany anyways. It was always my wish to leave. So here it is, my chance. And since I do now have the option of an MRes on top of that, that's even better!

    My favourite of the programmes still is Glasgow. I can't even really tell you why.
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    (Original post by Nuya)
    Ok, i see that there appear to be a lot of different opinions on the matter.
    How would you guys rank the universities then, regardless of MRes or MSc, just the Universities for postgrad Bioscience programmes (structural biology emphasis) in general?
    If you're ruling out UCL and the MScs, you're left with 4 decent options. These are all at well-regarded unis (in the UK), even if they aren't necessarily seen as prestigous. I can't comment on their structural biology reputations.

    My advice would be forget trying to choose based on rankings. For one thing, there isn't much difference between these unis in terms of prestige; for another, rankings aren't necessarily looking at factors important for a Masters student.

    If you haven't already, I'd try to arrange a chat with the course director to try to get a sense of what you'd be letting yourself in for. Even better would be to talk to current or past students.

    Also, have you been to any of these places? You may only be there for a year, but there's a big difference between Glasgow and Bath!
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    (Original post by xenophile)
    PhD applicants are assessed on their potential to do high quality work over a 3-4 year project. Having 9 months lab experience at masters level instead of 6 doesn't really demonstrate anything about this potential.

    Why do some of the most competetive PhD positions go to students right from undergrad? Because their experience is more than enough to demonstrate their capability to succeed at PhD level.

    As I said before, it would be a mistake to rule out a masters course because it isn't called an MRes. The course content, supervision and the university itself are all more important considerations if you want to go on to do a PhD.
    Most undergrads who go straight to a PhD have done so because they undertook a funded summer project at some point during their degree. Yes most of these are only about 2 months long but for an undergrad to get out, locate a supervisor and get themselves funding to work over summer holidays during their degree is impressive and they often stand out amongst all applicants. For people purely doing different types of masters, MRes > MSc.


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    (Original post by LSD)
    Most undergrads who go straight to a PhD have done so because they undertook a funded summer project at some point during their degree. Yes most of these are only about 2 months long but for an undergrad to get out, locate a supervisor and get themselves funding to work over summer holidays during their degree is impressive and they often stand out amongst all applicants. For people purely doing different types of masters, MRes > MSc.


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    Don't be too arrogant with your opinion and you wouldn't hurt our feelings if you said "perhaps MRes is > MSc because x y and z". instead of "MSc students sit in lectures for 6 months" in a derogatory fashion.

    I do believe MSc is better because my potential MSc provides advanced training in skills not available at the undergraduate level. It is not purely lectures. It's mostly computer based labs that show you how to assemble genomes, gather DNA data practically from the local environment and so on. All the modules are elective so I get to specialise into what I really want to know in a detailed fashion.
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    No, i havent been to any of those places yet.
    I have sent one more application to edinburgh because they offer an mres thats very similar to the one glasgow offers. I hadnt applied for that mres because i assumed i wouldnt get into edinburgh anyway. In fact i assumed to get a lot of rejections and was actually scared not to get in anywhere. So now that i jave not received a single rejection, i decided to go for it and try to get into the mres in edinburgh. If i dont get in there, then i will choose the mres in glasgow.
    I always told myself, that if i get into a scottish university, i would go there. Even though i havent been to scottland yet. I havent been to the rest of the uk either.
    And "just for one year", yes possibly, but the goal would be to get a follow on phd at the same university although i have no idea how realistic that is. But i would like to spare my boyfriend to have to find a new job after one year and my son to getting used to yet another childcare situation. I would finally like to grow roots somewhere and stay in the same place for the next few years. But if i dont get a follow on phd at the same university it would be ok as well! I know that my wish to stay at the same university after the mres is not the most realistic.
 
 
 

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