Hey there! Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free
Turn on thread page Beta
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    Hi all,

    The current application cycle will be coming to an end in a few months and I would like to start preparing the next step of my career. I'll be embarking on an MPhil in the fall and would like to apply for a PhD afterwards (at least, I'm 80% sure).

    Assuming that academia is the goal after the PhD, how important is funding for junior fellowships and post-doc's? As in, would a candidate who has self-funded or done their PhD part-time be viewed negatively?

    Thank you!
    • Community Assistant
    • CV Helper
    Online

    19
    ReputationRep:
    Community Assistant
    CV Helper
    (Original post by Aceadria)
    Assuming that academia is the goal after the PhD, how important is funding for junior fellowships and post-doc's? As in, would a candidate who has self-funded or done their PhD part-time be viewed negatively?
    There is no generic answer really, it's part of the package. The ability to gain external funding, by writing persuasive cases, by having strong research topics, by hunting out the money, by being able to generate money etc are all valuable skills in an academic career. However, they matter more the more senior you are, so no-one would reasonably expect a PhD student to understand the nuances of cultivating a HNW donor, but you'd expect a senior academic to 'get it'.

    So, depending on your subject and the general availability of funding on your area, it's much like having an extra publication - it's a good thing, but not a vital thing. If you can discuss funding opportunities sensibly, if you can demonstrate you know the places to go, the timings, the tactics etc, appropriate to a JRF/post-doc, then the fact you self-funded will not count against you.

    The part-time issue depends on the role you are applying for. If you studied part-time and are applying for a part-time role, then you are applying to an employer that wants that working pattern, so there is no issue, so long as you can agree timings. So that's the same as negotiating the benefits package etc.

    If you studied part-time and are applying for a full time role, you need to be able to convince that your circumstances have changed eg 'now the kids have left home, I want to return to full-time work' - and if you've got a clear reason like that, it's fine.

    If you are applying to a full time job but want to do it part time, then you may well struggle. Flexible working requests don't kick in immediately.
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Aceadria)
    Hi all,

    The current application cycle will be coming to an end in a few months and I would like to start preparing the next step of my career. I'll be embarking on an MPhil in the fall and would like to apply for a PhD afterwards (at least, I'm 80% sure).

    Assuming that academia is the goal after the PhD, how important is funding for junior fellowships and post-doc's? As in, would a candidate who has self-funded or done their PhD part-time be viewed negatively?

    Thank you!
    As with threeportdrift, I've found that the question of whether it's vital to have secured funding gets a mixed response. Some academics really stress the importance of getting funding in order to secure postdocs/jobs afterwards, and imply that having funding will push you towards the top of the queue for jobs. However, others have told me it doesn't really matter, and on an anecdotal level I have seen friends who self-funded be shortlisted for jobs etc., so it's obviously not an Iron Curtain of some kind.

    There are a few things to note though. One is the importance of the supervisor, and ensuring they will support you & push for you both during the PhD, and afterwards. Both of the self-funders I know who seem to be getting on ok in the post-PhD market have very 'interventionist' supervisors - they try & create opportunities for both themselves and their students to get a leg up on others. Examples I can think of include a supervisor pushing for a student to be included in a panel at a conference, even though the organisers were looking for someone a bit more senior; equally, the supervisor also pushed for the student to have a written piece included in an edited volume. My supervisor is a lot more hands-off than this, and mostly I 'create' my own opportunities and apply for things myself. There are positives and negatives to both approaches, but my self-funded friend is probably in a better position than me right now for a job next year, as her supervisor pushed to have a temporary job opening designed around her, more or less (when you read the desired criteria & research area, it's exactly this student), so that's a huge advantage arising from the supervisor.

    Second thing is to never underestimate the importance of networking and getting to know people. Meeting other academics, having them listen to your work through papers, and even having them read things for you, can be hugely helpful. If you get to know people well enough they might even act as a referee for you, and having your name 'out there' as someone active, engaged etc. doesn't seem to hurt.

    The final thing is not to take lightly the financial side. Unless you're very wealthy independently or from family, the PhD years (and especially the initial few years afterwards) can be very precarious financially. Postdocs and temporary lectureships are often paid shockingly badly, so if you've already struggled to pull yourself through the PhD, it could break you if you're facing several years of low pay, possibly in high-cost cities where many of the good universities are located. Of course, I don't know anything about your personal circumstances, but it's just something to bear in mind.

    As regards part-time versus full-time, it seems to be a peculiar one. At my university I genuinely haven't come across too many part-time PhDs in my subject, whereas at Oxford there are many more - at Ox, it seems as though the great majority of self-funders go part-time in my subject, in order to allow time for work as well. The only complaints I've heard re: part-time is that sometimes people are 'forgotten' by the bureaucracy a little - everything is tailored around fulltime people, and you may have to chase information re: adjusted deadlines and so forth. The other issue is that if you were self-funding part-time and looking for scholarships or other grants, many specify that you need to be studying full-time, so it can rule you out of some funding.

    Those are just some random thoughts, it's an interesting question though and one I'll probably have more insight into in a year or two once I'm done writing up and out in the 'real' world!
    Offline

    10
    ReputationRep:
    As a self-funded part-time doctoral student, I feel quite qualified to comment on this one!

    All the above advice is excellent so I'm just going to add some further thoughts:

    If you're doing a part-time PhD around a substantial job, your university experience is quite different. You enter that strange world of studying at evenings and weekends, at times when the university library is often quieter and frequently shut (and I'd say that Cambridge is pretty rubbish for out-of-hours libraries, check the opening times for the library of your subject or the UL & you'll see what I mean - I miss the 24-hour library of my Masters university a LOT). Also the cafes close just when you need that extra coffee to keep going.

    Self-funded doctoral students develop a certain mentality which can't be avoided. The temptation to work out your cost per contact hour is sometimes irresistible, especially in non-science subjects: 'I'm paying thousands per year for this and I've only seen my supervisor twice this term…..' This is, of course, a rubbish argument, because you're getting lots for your money but I reckon every self-funded student says or thinks this on occasion.

    Part time students can get forgotten, as gutenberg says. I'm lucky in that my department is extremely proactive, with an excellent course leader and administrator, but it's not the same for every subject.

    In my subject (a social science) there is limited funding anyway, so absolutely no stigma attached to self-funding. If you make a name for yourself during the doctorate, with networking and publications, there will be post-doc opportunities. Don't know how much this applies to other subjects.

    There is anecdotal evidence (there's probably actual evidence but I wouldn't know where to find it) that self-funding students are less likely to finish than funded students.

    Part-time doctoral students definitely have limited funding opportunities - some of my colleagues receive part-funding from their employer but otherwise there's not much available.




    Would I advise people to do a part-time doctorate? I enjoy it. The pressure is the same but diluted (so if external factors cause you to have a bad term, you can make up for it the following term). Having a job in the 'real world' helps you keep a sense of perspective and helps with money! It also allows you more time to develop your thinking and test your theories.

    Would I advise someone to self-fund? - probably not, actually, not until they'd explored every option for funding over a couple of application cycles if necessary. This isn't because of any effect on their future career opportunities, it's more that I wouldn't encourage anyone to take on a financial commitment of that size if there's a chance that someone else could pay the bill for them..
    Offline

    4
    ReputationRep:
    To speak from my perspective of prospective international student, it might also matter where you would like to pursue your career. Here, in East Europe, nobody knows about any funding and nobody cares - the symbolic capital of Cambridge degree is immense and even in academia, nobody knows anything about the scholarship schemes. From my knowledge, in Germany it is more or less the same, and I reckon everywhere on the continent.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by threeportdrift)
    There is no generic answer really, it's part of the package. The ability to gain external funding, by writing persuasive cases, by having strong research topics, by hunting out the money, by being able to generate money etc are all valuable skills in an academic career. However, they matter more the more senior you are, so no-one would reasonably expect a PhD student to understand the nuances of cultivating a HNW donor, but you'd expect a senior academic to 'get it'.

    So, depending on your subject and the general availability of funding on your area, it's much like having an extra publication - it's a good thing, but not a vital thing. If you can discuss funding opportunities sensibly, if you can demonstrate you know the places to go, the timings, the tactics etc, appropriate to a JRF/post-doc, then the fact you self-funded will not count against you.

    The part-time issue depends on the role you are applying for. If you studied part-time and are applying for a part-time role, then you are applying to an employer that wants that working pattern, so there is no issue, so long as you can agree timings. So that's the same as negotiating the benefits package etc.

    If you studied part-time and are applying for a full time role, you need to be able to convince that your circumstances have changed eg 'now the kids have left home, I want to return to full-time work' - and if you've got a clear reason like that, it's fine.

    If you are applying to a full time job but want to do it part time, then you may well struggle. Flexible working requests don't kick in immediately.
    This makes a great deal of sense. Thank you, threeportdrift.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by gutenberg)
    There are a few things to note though. One is the importance of the supervisor, and ensuring they will support you & push for you both during the PhD, and afterwards. Both of the self-funders I know who seem to be getting on ok in the post-PhD market have very 'interventionist' supervisors - they try & create opportunities for both themselves and their students to get a leg up on others. Examples I can think of include a supervisor pushing for a student to be included in a panel at a conference, even though the organisers were looking for someone a bit more senior; equally, the supervisor also pushed for the student to have a written piece included in an edited volume. My supervisor is a lot more hands-off than this, and mostly I 'create' my own opportunities and apply for things myself. There are positives and negatives to both approaches, but my self-funded friend is probably in a better position than me right now for a job next year, as her supervisor pushed to have a temporary job opening designed around her, more or less (when you read the desired criteria & research area, it's exactly this student), so that's a huge advantage arising from the supervisor.
    How does one figure out if a supervisor will be good? It can be difficult to gauge these things from the 'outside'.

    (Original post by gutenberg)
    Second thing is to never underestimate the importance of networking and getting to know people. Meeting other academics, having them listen to your work through papers, and even having them read things for you, can be hugely helpful. If you get to know people well enough they might even act as a referee for you, and having your name 'out there' as someone active, engaged etc. doesn't seem to hurt.
    Are there associations or societies one must join to network with academics?

    (Original post by gutenberg)
    The final thing is not to take lightly the financial side. Unless you're very wealthy independently or from family, the PhD years (and especially the initial few years afterwards) can be very precarious financially. Postdocs and temporary lectureships are often paid shockingly badly, so if you've already struggled to pull yourself through the PhD, it could break you if you're facing several years of low pay, possibly in high-cost cities where many of the good universities are located. Of course, I don't know anything about your personal circumstances, but it's just something to bear in mind.
    This is something I'm definitely aware of! I'd ideally be living at home, if I do decide to go down the self-funded route.

    Thank you so much for your detailed response!
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Jantaculum)
    If you're doing a part-time PhD around a substantial job, your university experience is quite different. You enter that strange world of studying at evenings and weekends, at times when the university library is often quieter and frequently shut (and I'd say that Cambridge is pretty rubbish for out-of-hours libraries, check the opening times for the library of your subject or the UL & you'll see what I mean - I miss the 24-hour library of my Masters university a LOT). Also the cafes close just when you need that extra coffee to keep going.
    This is something voiced by a friend of mine at Oxford as well. Do you struggle to work at home or do you need the resources in the libraries?


    (Original post by Jantaculum)
    Self-funded doctoral students develop a certain mentality which can't be avoided. The temptation to work out your cost per contact hour is sometimes irresistible, especially in non-science subjects: 'I'm paying thousands per year for this and I've only seen my supervisor twice this term…..' This is, of course, a rubbish argument, because you're getting lots for your money but I reckon every self-funded student says or thinks this on occasion.
    I do wonder what resources one pays for as PhD - is it the library resources, access to archives, etc...?

    (Original post by Jantaculum)
    Part time students can get forgotten, as gutenberg says. I'm lucky in that my department is extremely proactive, with an excellent course leader and administrator, but it's not the same for every subject.
    I'm not sure if you're in the History department, but without giving too much 'irl' information away, would you happen to know what it's like for part-time History PhD students at Cambridge?

    (Original post by Jantaculum)
    In my subject (a social science) there is limited funding anyway, so absolutely no stigma attached to self-funding. If you make a name for yourself during the doctorate, with networking and publications, there will be post-doc opportunities. Don't know how much this applies to other subjects.
    Any idea how this can be done? I sometimes find it very difficult to understand how PhD students can network.

    (Original post by Jantaculum)
    There is anecdotal evidence (there's probably actual evidence but I wouldn't know where to find it) that self-funding students are less likely to finish than funded students.
    I do wonder if that's perhaps because students underestimate the cost of a PhD?

    Part-time doctoral students definitely have limited funding opportunities - some of my colleagues receive part-funding from their employer but otherwise there's not much available.

    (Original post by Jantaculum)
    Would I advise someone to self-fund? - probably not, actually, not until they'd explored every option for funding over a couple of application cycles if necessary. This isn't because of any effect on their future career opportunities, it's more that I wouldn't encourage anyone to take on a financial commitment of that size if there's a chance that someone else could pay the bill for them..
    This is definitely not the first time I'm reading this (I saw a few posts both on TSR and other forums regarding this) - Would departments not view multiple applications negatively?



    Thank you so much for your reply, Jantaculum!
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by d1993)
    To speak from my perspective of prospective international student, it might also matter where you would like to pursue your career. Here, in East Europe, nobody knows about any funding and nobody cares - the symbolic capital of Cambridge degree is immense and even in academia, nobody knows anything about the scholarship schemes. From my knowledge, in Germany it is more or less the same, and I reckon everywhere on the continent.
    This is very interesting! So, brand > funding + scholarship? Is this the case across Europe, e.g. Switzerland and France as well?
    • Community Assistant
    • CV Helper
    Online

    19
    ReputationRep:
    Community Assistant
    CV Helper
    (Original post by Aceadria)
    Any idea how this can be done? I sometimes find it very difficult to understand how PhD students can network.
    Go to additional lectures and hang around afterwards. You don't have to ask some mind-blowing question in the Q&A session with a global superstar, but hang around for the drinks afterwards, or go to departmental get togethers and take part in discussions. Be engaging and interested, and as your knowledge matures your questions and engagement will become richer and more valued. You will start to piece things together - and even being able to say 'I was listening to Dr X the other day and he made a similar point about y in the context of z' and people will listen, pick up, take on the conversation, but remember you as someone who had an interest, and lo and behold you've begun a network.

    Be generous with the standard social media networks, flatter senior academics (!), be seen and be seen to be engaged and the network will flow. If you aren't a natural networker, a) there will be others around you that are - copy them and b) it doesn't take the brazen chutzpa that many imagine. Over 3 years it can be a slow burner and can be done via frequency of general conversations rather than fireworks and being a confident, social butterfly.
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Aceadria)
    How does one figure out if a supervisor will be good? It can be difficult to gauge these things from the 'outside'.
    Unfortunately there is no surefire way to tell. Try to get in contact with some of the supervisor's other students and see how they find them, bearing in mind of course that everyone will have a different experience with the same supervisor. A student who is a supervisor's 'favourite' (and it does happen!) will likely be much more positive! But all you can do is (very discreetly) ask around as best you can.



    Are there associations or societies one must join to network with academics?
    No. Threeportdrift gave a good summary below - just make sure you attend events, and don't be afraid to stay for the drinks/dinner afterwards if you can, and just chat with people. Conferences (especially smaller ones) are good for this too, since most people there will have a common interest. Most likely your university will have a regular or semi-regular seminar in which both external and internal speakers present their research. Make sure you go to these, it's a good way to meet the other academics and postgrads in your department, as well as some interesting external people. As threeport said below, it doesn't have to be some brazen, handing-out-your-business-card approach, it's really just being friendly and engaged.



    This is something I'm definitely aware of! I'd ideally be living at home, if I do decide to go down the self-funded route.

    Thank you so much for your detailed response!
    No worries. I see you asked Jantaculum below about part-time History PhDs. I can honestly say that in my subject group (I'm in History, but it is divided up into subject groups within it), I haven't come across any at Cambridge. Everyone who is self-funding, is full-time for some reason. Although as I said, at Oxford it seems to be much more common, and I can think of several people in my broad subject area who are self-funding, and going part-time. Perhaps Oxford just has better supports in place for that, or really pushes self-funding people to go the part-time route, I can't really say. I have met one or two part-time PhDs in other subject groups (I encountered one or two in the Modern history group), so there obviously are a few. From my brief interaction with them, they seemed happy enough, and they were invited along to participate in things like the Graduate Research Day and so forth.
    Offline

    10
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Aceadria)
    This is something voiced by a friend of mine at Oxford as well. Do you struggle to work at home or do you need the resources in the libraries?
    At the moment (still doing a lot of reading) I'd much rather spend lots of time in the library - that thing of checking a reference quickly, or picking up a book from the shelf just to glance through it is invaluable really. And I love the choice of working environment in the Cambridge system - such a range from converted medieval chapels to bright modern open plan libraries via sun-trap rooftop gardens and a cafe with the best river view in Cambridge!

    I manage by a combination of advance planning, buying stuff from Amazon (cheaper than the petrol to get to the library) and begging the staff for extra books/longer loans/fine waiver, which they're usually happy to do when there is a good reason.

    As an aside Cambridge's multi-library system is sometimes a disadvantage, when you find out that there's only one copy of a book and it's in a college library the other side of town…

    So sometimes you end up using the references you can access online, which can be second best.

    Worst of all is when you get a group chat message from someone on your course saying 'a few of us are in the library, anyone fancy coffee' and you're working at home so an hour's drive away!

    (Original post by Aceadria)
    I do wonder what resources one pays for as PhD - is it the library resources, access to archives, etc...?
    The ability to attend pretty much anything that's going on in the university. I've met some of my absolute academic heroes and had coffee with them. Lots of interesting lectures in subjects I know nothing about & the opportunity to take courses in languages etc. There are probably two or three things with direct relevance to my research every week, and lots more that is related/might be useful. Free parking in the department/college car parks is also a major perk but not everyone gets that!

    (Original post by Aceadria)
    I'm not sure if you're in the History department, but without giving too much 'irl' information away, would you happen to know what it's like for part-time History PhD students at Cambridge?
    Not history, sorry.

    (Original post by Aceadria)
    Any idea how this can be done? I sometimes find it very difficult to understand how PhD students can network.
    Great advice from gutenberg and threeportdrift. Within the university it just happens, if you're around and talk to people. I use Twitter a lot, beginning to get my name out there, and then introduce myself to people at conferences to put names to faces - it's a natural starting point for networking. I've also joined professional organisations, where attending conferences and wearing a name badge with the university affiliation can attract interest.

    (Original post by Aceadria)
    I do wonder if that's perhaps because students underestimate the cost of a PhD?
    Yes - that, and envy of the funded students!

    (Original post by Aceadria)
    This is definitely not the first time I'm reading this (I saw a few posts both on TSR and other forums regarding this) - Would departments not view multiple applications negatively?
    I don't think they would. My daughter has just done her third round of PhD applications, some of which have been to the same department in the same university. After two years of rejections, she got two offers this year, one of which is an absolute dream of a PhD with extra contributions from a sponsor and good job prospects (either in or out of academia) at the end of it. The department didn't view multiple applications negatively, in fact they pointed her in the direction of the one she got this time round. They understand the funding problems.


    (Original post by Aceadria)
    Thank you so much for your reply, Jantaculum!
    As always, you're welcome
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by threeportdrift)
    Go to additional lectures and hang around afterwards. You don't have to ask some mind-blowing question in the Q&A session with a global superstar, but hang around for the drinks afterwards, or go to departmental get togethers and take part in discussions. Be engaging and interested, and as your knowledge matures your questions and engagement will become richer and more valued. You will start to piece things together - and even being able to say 'I was listening to Dr X the other day and he made a similar point about y in the context of z' and people will listen, pick up, take on the conversation, but remember you as someone who had an interest, and lo and behold you've begun a network.

    Be generous with the standard social media networks, flatter senior academics (!), be seen and be seen to be engaged and the network will flow. If you aren't a natural networker, a) there will be others around you that are - copy them and b) it doesn't take the brazen chutzpa that many imagine. Over 3 years it can be a slow burner and can be done via frequency of general conversations rather than fireworks and being a confident, social butterfly.
    Thank you for your response and for advice. I see event invitations on my course's Facebook page so will make sure to attend all of these (along with the departmental seminars that are open to MPhils as well).
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by gutenberg)
    Unfortunately there is no surefire way to tell. Try to get in contact with some of the supervisor's other students and see how they find them, bearing in mind of course that everyone will have a different experience with the same supervisor. A student who is a supervisor's 'favourite' (and it does happen!) will likely be much more positive! But all you can do is (very discreetly) ask around as best you can.
    Appreciate the help. From you experience, do the 'superstar' supervisors tend to be a little more arrogant than the less known ones?


    (Original post by gutenberg)
    No. Threeportdrift gave a good summary below - just make sure you attend events, and don't be afraid to stay for the drinks/dinner afterwards if you can, and just chat with people. Conferences (especially smaller ones) are good for this too, since most people there will have a common interest. Most likely your university will have a regular or semi-regular seminar in which both external and internal speakers present their research. Make sure you go to these, it's a good way to meet the other academics and postgrads in your department, as well as some interesting external people. As threeport said below, it doesn't have to be some brazen, handing-out-your-business-card approach, it's really just being friendly and engaged.
    Thanks; I see a lot of these advertised so will make sure to always attend them!


    (Original post by gutenberg)
    No worries. I see you asked Jantaculum below about part-time History PhDs. I can honestly say that in my subject group (I'm in History, but it is divided up into subject groups within it), I haven't come across any at Cambridge. Everyone who is self-funding, is full-time for some reason. Although as I said, at Oxford it seems to be much more common, and I can think of several people in my broad subject area who are self-funding, and going part-time. Perhaps Oxford just has better supports in place for that, or really pushes self-funding people to go the part-time route, I can't really say. I have met one or two part-time PhDs in other subject groups (I encountered one or two in the Modern history group), so there obviously are a few. From my brief interaction with them, they seemed happy enough, and they were invited along to participate in things like the Graduate Research Day and so forth.
    I understand. Two follow-up questions, if I may:

    a) How important is the subject group? Do you find it easy to network with people from outside the subject group?
    b) When you make an application for a PhD at History, do you have to specify the subject group you would like to be a part of?

    Thank you again for your responses, gutenberg!
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Jantaculum)
    I don't think they would. My daughter has just done her third round of PhD applications, some of which have been to the same department in the same university. After two years of rejections, she got two offers this year, one of which is an absolute dream of a PhD with extra contributions from a sponsor and good job prospects (either in or out of academia) at the end of it. The department didn't view multiple applications negatively, in fact they pointed her in the direction of the one she got this time round. They understand the funding problems.
    Thank you so much for your detailed response, Jantaculum. If I may, just a brief follow-up question: does the above hold true also for candidates would re-apply in another cycle, even though they have been previously rejected or is it only the case if you decline an offer due to funding?
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Aceadria)
    This is very interesting! So, brand > funding + scholarship? Is this the case across Europe, e.g. Switzerland and France as well?
    Don't even try to go in French Academia. :afraid:

    (Original post by Aceadria)
    How does one figure out if a supervisor will be good? It can be difficult to gauge these things from the 'outside'.
    Once you're in Oxford, ask other students about their supervisors. You'll also be able to see whether your current supervisor is good enough.
    Some of them also tell on their personal page their former PhD students and where they are working now.


    Do you want to go back to the USA after your PhD or stay in Europe?
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Josb)
    Don't even try to go in French Academia. :afraid:
    I've heard some real horror stories about the French system (competitions). Ouch!

    (Original post by Josb)
    Once you're in Oxford, ask other students about their supervisors. You'll also be able to see whether your current supervisor is good enough.
    Some of them also tell on their personal page their former PhD students and where they are working now.
    I've noticed this. The History department's website at Oxford clearly states that we should not contact supervisors ahead of making an application. I find this quite frustrating (but understandable as they're probably very busy!).

    (Original post by Josb)
    Do you want to go back to the USA after your PhD or stay in Europe?
    I'm actually Western European (I try not to state which country exactly, as I'm so scared my identity would become obvious ).
    Online

    21
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by gutenberg)





    No worries. I see you asked Jantaculum below about part-time History PhDs. I can honestly say that in my subject group (I'm in History, but it is divided up into subject groups within it), I haven't come across any at Cambridge. Everyone who is self-funding, is full-time for some reason. Although as I said, at Oxford it seems to be much more common, and I can think of several people in my broad subject area who are self-funding, and going part-time. Perhaps Oxford just has better supports in place for that, or really pushes self-funding people to go the part-time route, I can't really say. I have met one or two part-time PhDs in other subject groups (I encountered one or two in the Modern history group), so there obviously are a few. From my brief interaction with them, they seemed happy enough, and they were invited along to participate in things like the Graduate Research Day and so forth.
    Cambridge doesn't waive residential requirements for part-timers. Oxford does. Therefore most Cambridge part-timers tend to be "on the books" of the university or the NHS in some way or another. There are very few civilians, because you have to live in or around Cambridge.
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    Part-timers have high drop out rates, which I presume is a combination of: being less involved/more easily forgotten, their thesis not having their full attention/losing interest/becoming outdated, and that 6-7 years is a hell of a long time. It's generally advised to avoid part-time for that reason but not for job-searching/prestige concerns.

    There is going to be £25k PhD loans from 2018/19 so that will substantially ease financial pressure for self-funders and encourage full-time study. Unless you are researching something that is closely related to your job (which is unlikely for history) or there is a limiting factor out of your control (e.g. dependents) then it is unwise to go part-time.

    Even without loans it's very much possible to self-fund a full-time PhD. Fees are £9-12k which you can save in a year of full-time work if you live at home and/or live frugally. After that all you need is money for rent and living costs which can be earned just through weekend work if you choose a department in a city with low average costs (as long as a suitable supervisor is there of course). If you are willing to live frugally, be flexible with location, and are genuinely passionate about your subject then self-funding a full-time PhD is not particularly difficult. Most people waste a lot of money and mis-manage their time which makes them think it's an onerous task. I'm part-funded (tuition fee waiver) and have found it very comfortable. Being part-funded hasn't made it financially "easier" in the sense that my month to month cash flow/working hours would be the same with or without the scholarship - it simply meant I didn't have to hand over my savings which anyone can acquire in a year of hard work.

    This hasn't even taken into account all the other sources such as fee discounts, charities, crowd-funding, being a warden, etc. In other words, there is little reason in going part-time so it's a bit of a moot point discussing the relative prestige of it.
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Aceadria)
    Appreciate the help. From you experience, do the 'superstar' supervisors tend to be a little more arrogant than the less known ones?
    Honestly, it can be really hard to tell! I have a so-called 'superstar' supervisor (in that he's very well-known, has had lots of students, etc.) but he's the most down-to-earth person, kind, humorous, but as tough as nails when needs be, which is great. Equally, a friend at another university had a nightmare experience with her supervisor - he wasn't arrogant as such (as far as I can tell from her tales), but just wasn't very engaged or interested, and he wasn't in any way a superstar. I think she was hoping that since he wasn't bogged down with tons of commitments he'd have a bit more time for her, but it didn't turn out that way. Whereas my supe, on account of his profile, is on the editorial board or advisory board of tons of different projects, is constantly being invited to speak in various places and so on, so you'd think he might occasionally neglect his students. Yet always has time to answer my emails, and reads my chapters with huge attention to detail. There's no way to tell unfortunately, beyond trying to chat with people. Plus supes will be different with each student - I know mine is less 'strict' with me than some of his other PhDs, as he knows I'm quite self-motivated and so on, so my PhD brothers & sisters could have a very different perception of him compared to me.


    I understand. Two follow-up questions, if I may:

    a) How important is the subject group? Do you find it easy to network with people from outside the subject group?
    b) When you make an application for a PhD at History, do you have to specify the subject group you would like to be a part of?

    Thank you again for your responses, gutenberg!
    a) It's important, but not massively so. You'll primarily come into contact with 'the subject group' through the weekly seminars; otherwise, it's primarily an administrative thing. The subject groups (medieval, early modern and so on) meet termly (the senior academics only) to decide on things like who will be in charge of undergrad papers, who will represent the group as exam markers that year, and so on. As a student you won't have much to do with it beyond the seminars, where you'll meet the academics and fellow postgrads. It's very easy to meet others though - attend any of the history seminars and there will be an opportunity to chat with people. I know plenty of people from across the different groups, so you won't be stuck in your little chronological group!

    b) No you don't - as I said, it's primarily a more senior, administrative thing. I don't think students even are assigned formally to a subject group, but most people will identify with one (or more) depending on their research topic, and will mostly interact with postgrads and staff in that area. But really, you're free to meet and talk with whoever, and at Cambridge there are so many opportunities for that.
 
 
 
Poll
“Yanny” or “Laurel”

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Write a reply...
Reply
Hide
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.