Coffeealways
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I finished my MA with the OU last year and would love to do a PhD but I'd need it to be online/distance nearly entirely (could manage having to visit somewhere once a year).
The PhD search sites are clunky and don't seem to be throwing me up many options.
Anyone done this or have any tips?

My MA was in Crime and Justice.

Thanks!
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by Coffeealways)
I finished my MA with the OU last year and would love to do a PhD but I'd need it to be online/distance nearly entirely (could manage having to visit somewhere once a year).
The PhD search sites are clunky and don't seem to be throwing me up many options.
Anyone done this or have any tips?

My MA was in Crime and Justice.

Thanks!
Setting aside the current situation for a moment, 'distance-learning' isn't really a thing for PhDs. most obviously because they aren't generally taught, save some research methods type classes.

The only distinction made in types of study for PhD are full time (3-4 years) or part time (6 years).

PhDs are usually presented for distance learning because either you need equipment which is expensive/needs technicians etc that can only be found in laboratories, or you need libraries and original documents etc which hte university holds.

Obviously, in the current situation, a lot of resources are being put online, so it is, within the last few months, much easier to access digital resources, but that doesn't completely change the nature of PhD. I think a lot of academics might say that by physically locating yourself in a collegiate body of other academics, you learn the necessary soft skills and create fruitful networks, improve your ways of thinking, can move between, compare and contrast paradigms better and altogether become a better researcher and academic thinker etc.

Having said that, of course, especially in the humanities and social sciences, researchers can go off for long periods to do fieldwork or research material that isn't held or discoverable from the University.

But I suspect that's the difference in perception you are facing. You want 'distance-learning' in the style of the current style of undergrad or Masters degrees. Universities think that all the necessary 'distance research' is established, and you can go and work in a tree in Brazil for 9 months of the year, but otherwise you need to form part of an academic community.

I'm not sure what the OU process is, it might be worth exploring how they manage PhDs.
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Coffeealways
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
Setting aside the current situation for a moment, 'distance-learning' isn't really a thing for PhDs. most obviously because they aren't generally taught, save some research methods type classes.

The only distinction made in types of study for PhD are full time (3-4 years) or part time (6 years).

PhDs are usually presented for distance learning because either you need equipment which is expensive/needs technicians etc that can only be found in laboratories, or you need libraries and original documents etc which hte university holds.

Obviously, in the current situation, a lot of resources are being put online, so it is, within the last few months, much easier to access digital resources, but that doesn't completely change the nature of PhD. I think a lot of academics might say that by physically locating yourself in a collegiate body of other academics, you learn the necessary soft skills and create fruitful networks, improve your ways of thinking, can move between, compare and contrast paradigms better and altogether become a better researcher and academic thinker etc.

Having said that, of course, especially in the humanities and social sciences, researchers can go off for long periods to do fieldwork or research material that isn't held or discoverable from the University.

But I suspect that's the difference in perception you are facing. You want 'distance-learning' in the style of the current style of undergrad or Masters degrees. Universities think that all the necessary 'distance research' is established, and you can go and work in a tree in Brazil for 9 months of the year, but otherwise you need to form part of an academic community.

I'm not sure what the OU process is, it might be worth exploring how they manage PhDs.
Thanks for your reply.
I guess I am used to the OU way of working. I have contacted them about a possible PhD with them again as they have PhDs that cover my subject area.
My local university doesn’t cover my subject choice or else I’d definitely head there. And my children are still small so ideally I need the flexibility of part time research where I’m mostly left to my own devices.

I’ve been toying with the idea of a second degree in a STEM subject. I’ve spent all my adult life studying and don’t particularly want to stop but a BSc might be a good way to fill a few years until my kids are a bit older but my MA dissertation subject matter has become even more relevant over the last couple of months.

Mmm. Lots to think about.
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by Coffeealways)
I finished my MA with the OU last year and would love to do a PhD but I'd need it to be online/distance nearly entirely (could manage having to visit somewhere once a year).
The PhD search sites are clunky and don't seem to be throwing me up many options.
Anyone done this or have any tips?

My MA was in Crime and Justice.

Thanks!
PhDs done by distance are usually in very hands-off subjects, based on your current employment/career (if you have a relevant job), or require at least the equivalent of a week's worth of on-campus contact time. What are you envisioning your project to be? Also, even if you find a department for your project, some academics may not necessarily be keen on distance learners for that level of study.
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Helloworld_95
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I think it would be very difficult to get a PhD which allowed distance learning without already having a good rapport with your future supervisor. It's also worth noting that the way that PhD funding works in the UK highly discourages distance and part-time PhDs. Universities lose nearly all of their PhD funding if a certain percentage don't complete their PhD within 4 years, and in general universities have been as strict to possible to minimise risk of getting anywhere near that cutoff point. These two groups have much longer average times to completion and higher failure rates so naturally universities aren't usually keen on taking on students who want to go these routes.

My understanding is that PhDs at the OU also aren't usually distance learning, and when they are it's usually not in the strictest sense of the phrase. Their PhDs are usually on-site at the OU or at an affiliated research centre.

What's probably more realistic is doing the first year of your PhD on-site somewhere then switching to the distance learning (remote working) method.
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by Helloworld_95)
What's probably more realistic is doing the first year of your PhD on-site somewhere then switching to the distance learning (remote working) method.
I found an official version of this structure of 1 year on-campus and the rest elsewhere when I was researching PhDs (I believe it was at Reading), but it was designed for students who weren't UK-based and/or wanted to do their data collection in another country. They only allowed UK students on the course under special circumstances.
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Helloworld_95
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(Original post by PhoenixFortune)
I found an official version of this structure of 1 year on-campus and the rest elsewhere when I was researching PhDs (I believe it was at Reading), but it was designed for students who weren't UK-based and/or wanted to do their data collection in another country. They only allowed UK students on the course under special circumstances.
I think there's somewhat of a difference between what's officially allowed and what's unofficially allowed, at least for UK based students where visa related matters are less of an issue. Most universities in practice aren't too fussed about where you live and work while doing your PhD providing you still have regular interactions with your supervisor.

Now, convincing your supervisor to let you do that is another matter.

Some supervisors will want you in the office 9-5 every weekday

Others will want to see you in the office every weekday and not be too fussed about when you come in

Others will be happy if you turn up in person a couple of days per week or even just for meetings

Then some who will allow it temporarily

Then finally you'll find a small number who will be happy with a permanent switch, and most of those, particularly the ones worth their salt as a supervisor, will want to see you work in the office for a while first.
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by Helloworld_95)
I think there's somewhat of a difference between what's officially allowed and what's unofficially allowed, at least for UK based students where visa related matters are less of an issue. Most universities in practice aren't too fussed about where you live and work while doing your PhD providing you still have regular interactions with your supervisor.

Now, convincing your supervisor to let you do that is another matter.

Some supervisors will want you in the office 9-5 every weekday

Others will want to see you in the office every weekday and not be too fussed about when you come in

Others will be happy if you turn up in person a couple of days per week or even just for meetings

Then some who will allow it temporarily

Then finally you'll find a small number who will be happy with a permanent switch, and most of those, particularly the ones worth their salt as a supervisor, will want to see you work in the office for a while first.
Indeed. :yep:

Also funding bodies can have student location as a caveat for a studentship. My friend who is funded by the ESRC has to live within 1 hour's travel of his university's campus, most likely to ensure that he actually engages and attends when he should.
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