Ana1998
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Hello -

I am an international (EU) student. I have a Master's degree in business (and several years of work experience in business), but would like to pivot to pursue a career in academia (English lit, specifically). I have therefore started a BA In English Language and Lit (distance learning from Goldsmiths / University of London), am getting done with my 2nd year in a month (pending Coronavirus ambiguity...) and expect to graduate with either a 1st or a high upper second. After the BA, my goal is twofold: (1) find the quickest possible way to complete a DPhil in the UK (2) in a manner that allows me to continue working at the same time (outside of the UK, but in the EU).

I was hoping someone here could help me on a few questions.

1. My understanding is that, for objective (1), I should steer clear of MA programmes (or MSt for that matter) and try to get into an MPhil / DPhil instead. Reason: doing an MPhil / PhD will be 1 + 3 years, whereas doing an MA first would still require me to do the 1 + 3 years after that, i.e. just prolong things. Is this accurate?

2. For an MPhil / DPhil, does one (a) apply to the MPhil first, and then, pending sufficient progress, upgrade to the DPhil later or (b) apply to the DPhil directly, but one just gets automatically placed in the MPhil first?

3. For objective (2), the degree I do would have to either be through distance-learning or part-time.
3.a. - The only distance learning MPhil / PhD I have found in English in the UK is through the UoL's School of Advanced Study. Since I'm not from the UK I'm not sure about how good / respected it is. Any thoughts?
3.b. - If part-time, there are appear to be several options (unfortunately, they double study time - and so, yes, I am aware of the tension between objectives 1 and 2 in this case). Now, the part-time programmes at Oxford are quite clear that I would not need to live in Oxford, as long as I can plan to attend about 30 days per year in person, according to a schedule that is flexible (people doing part-time degrees are typically working, which it appears that the good people at Oxford understand). However, I'm not clear whether this is always the case for part-time degrees in the UK, or whether, for most unis, part'time just means having to attend in the evening or on certain days but requires residence in the uni's city regardless. Could anyone confirm?

4. Is there a place I might be able to look at actual, well-written, successful research proposals in English at the MPhil / DPhil level? I'd love to see the level of depth a research proposal goes into at this early (application) stage.

5. The MPhil (or many MAs for that matter) just last 1 year in the UK, whereas these are 2 year programmes in most of the EU. Does any one have any experience here transferring to an EU PhD after a 1 year MA / MPhil in the UK? Is one able to get into a 3 year PhD programme right away, or does one generally have to do the 2nd year of the MA in the EU first?

Thank you!
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Keele University
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(Original post by Ana1998)
Hello -

I am an international (EU) student. I have a Master's degree in business (and several years of work experience in business), but would like to pivot to pursue a career in academia (English lit, specifically). I have therefore started a BA In English Language and Lit (distance learning from Goldsmiths / University of London), am getting done with my 2nd year in a month (pending Coronavirus ambiguity...) and expect to graduate with either a 1st or a high upper second. After the BA, my goal is twofold: (1) find the quickest possible way to complete a DPhil in the UK (2) in a manner that allows me to continue working at the same time (outside of the UK, but in the EU).

I was hoping someone here could help me on a few questions.

1. My understanding is that, for objective (1), I should steer clear of MA programmes (or MSt for that matter) and try to get into an MPhil / DPhil instead. Reason: doing an MPhil / PhD will be 1 + 3 years, whereas doing an MA first would still require me to do the 1 + 3 years after that, i.e. just prolong things. Is this accurate?

2. For an MPhil / DPhil, does one (a) apply to the MPhil first, and then, pending sufficient progress, upgrade to the DPhil later or (b) apply to the DPhil directly, but one just gets automatically placed in the MPhil first?

3. For objective (2), the degree I do would have to either be through distance-learning or part-time.
3.a. - The only distance learning MPhil / PhD I have found in English in the UK is through the UoL's School of Advanced Study. Since I'm not from the UK I'm not sure about how good / respected it is. Any thoughts?
3.b. - If part-time, there are appear to be several options (unfortunately, they double study time - and so, yes, I am aware of the tension between objectives 1 and 2 in this case). Now, the part-time programmes at Oxford are quite clear that I would not need to live in Oxford, as long as I can plan to attend about 30 days per year in person, according to a schedule that is flexible (people doing part-time degrees are typically working, which it appears that the good people at Oxford understand). However, I'm not clear whether this is always the case for part-time degrees in the UK, or whether, for most unis, part'time just means having to attend in the evening or on certain days but requires residence in the uni's city regardless. Could anyone confirm?

4. Is there a place I might be able to look at actual, well-written, successful research proposals in English at the MPhil / DPhil level? I'd love to see the level of depth a research proposal goes into at this early (application) stage.

5. The MPhil (or many MAs for that matter) just last 1 year in the UK, whereas these are 2 year programmes in most of the EU. Does any one have any experience here transferring to an EU PhD after a 1 year MA / MPhil in the UK? Is one able to get into a 3 year PhD programme right away, or does one generally have to do the 2nd year of the MA in the EU first?

Thank you!
Hi Ana1998!

Personally I wouldn't completely write off MA programmes. I found the teaching on my MA to be invaluable in preparing me for doctoral-level study. Like you, I had several years of work experience in the business sector and was torn between returning to undertake an MPhil or an MA - in the end, I settled for the MA and haven't looked back. Having more supported and structured learning in the MA has definitely resulted in my being a better research student at PhD level.

As far as your queries go, I'll try and answer to the extent of my knowledge. As far as I am aware, only Oxford awards a DPhil and I'm not used to their system - which may differ from ours - so I'll refer to the doctoral degree as a PhD in my replies!

1. An MA will be one year (full-time), then you'd be looking at 3 - 4 years for your PhD (most PhDs take at least 3 years to complete full-time, but you can take up to four years if needed). The MPhil/PhD upgrade is slightly shorter but isn't a route I'm familiar with. However, there is a pretty good guide to it at https://www.findaphd.com/advice/doin...l-upgrade.aspx

2. Hopefully the findaphd webpage link above answers this question, however, this may vary from university to university. So I'd email the admissions team of the university you are interested in to double-check on the best way of applying for your chosen course/route. I'd also say that advice from course tutors/admissions teams can be really helpful in selecting the best course for you - I spoke to some members of my academic school for advice when making my own choice between MA and MPhil.

3a. I'm afraid I don't have any experience with this course but you may find a thread on here for that university where you could ask current students? Alternatively, maybe contact the university themselves and see if they have any current students who would be willing to discuss the course with you?

3b. Part-time programme requirements vary from course to course and university to university. Some, such as the Open University courses, can be conducted almost entirely from home with maybe a few short residentials throughout the course. Others require part-time attendance for classes on campus a couple of days or evenings a week. Most universities do advertise if their courses are suitable for distance learning on their website but, again, probably best to speak directly to the admissions teams of the universities you are interested in to see how their courses are structured and what your attendance requirements would be.

4. Again https://www.findaphd.com/ has some good examples of personal statements and applications, as well as research proposals. You can find more at https://www.findaphd.com/advice/find...statement.aspx and https://www.findaphd.com/advice/find...-proposal.aspx. Some universities also put examples on their websites - try a Google search of 'PhD proposal example' or 'PhD application example' and then your subject area and see what comes up (look for .ac.uk sites to find the ones affiliated to universities)!

5. I'm afraid I don't know about the UK/EU transfer requirements however I would imagine that a Masters level qualification would still be considered a Masters level qualification in the majority of institutions, without the need to upgrade further. Again, this may vary from institution to institution however so it's always best to double-check with the relevant admissions teams.

I hope that helps but do let me know if you have any other queries and best of luck with your applications!

Amy
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