elpren
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Hi!
I’ve just finished the third year of a four year MChem course. If everything goes well I should graduate in June of 2021. I’d like to study abroad to do a PhD (preferably in Norway, but I’ve been looking elsewhere too). As far as I knew, an integrated masters is equivalent to a post grad masters. However, on all the university websites I’ve looked at, they specify that a five year masters is required to apply for a PhD (some also say “or equivalent approved by faculty”, but they don’t list what these equivalents are). I know most european countries follow the Bologna system of ECTS, and an integrated masters is worth 240 credits, whereas a regular post grad masters is worth 270 credits. I’m now slightly worried that I’m limiting myself if I do an integrated masters. Does anyone have any experience with this?
Thanks!
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Helloworld_95
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The UK integrated masters are counted as equivalent. I enquired to universities in a few different countries in Europe and beyond about it and they were all keen to accept me for a PhD.

I would be very careful about which countries and supervisors you go to for a PhD. Each will have quite different expectations on what they expect you to do, and international students, which you would be, are particularly at risk of being taken advantage of.
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elpren
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(Original post by Helloworld_95)
The UK integrated masters are counted as equivalent. I enquired to universities in a few different countries in Europe and beyond about it and they were all keen to accept me for a PhD.

I would be very careful about which countries and supervisors you go to for a PhD. Each will have quite different expectations on what they expect you to do, and international students, which you would be, are particularly at risk of being taken advantage of.
Thanks! You’ve put my mind at ease.
Do you know people who’ve bad experiences doing PhDs abroad?
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Helloworld_95
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(Original post by elpren)
Thanks! You’ve put my mind at ease.
Do you know people who’ve bad experiences doing PhDs abroad?
Yes, I've known quite a few, alongside ones who have had similar experiences in the UK.

In general, academics try to recruit PhD students that either they know personally, or someone that they work with closely or otherwise highly respect knows personally, followed by students from universities who they're very familiar with i.e. they're alumni of or taught there previously. This gives them more of a guarantee of the quality of student that they're getting, alongside what skills they have, and the working relationship. When you're recruiting internationally things tend to end up at the bottom end of that spectrum, or potentially even worse, and recruiting at those lower levels is generally a sign that the supervisor struggles to recruit students at those closer levels. You can find some supervisors which will be on the closer end if you look thoroughly, but it's usually an extremely small number unless you're looking at countries which send a lot of students to the UK e.g. Hong Kong, China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, etc.

From your side you also need to be very aware of what the expectations are for PhD students in the destination country and also in the UK too so that you have a baseline. In the UK, a PhD is supposed to be very self-motivated and the supervisor is mostly there for guidance, you shouldn't be teaching unless you ask to (and even then definitely not in first year), you shouldn't be working on your supervisors projects unless you ask to either (with the exception for when your PhD is part of your supervisor's project), only people who worked on a paper you published should be credited as authors (came up with the idea, did the research, wrote it, edited it). Some supervisors within the UK don't follow those rules, but they are bad supervisors from the UK PhD perspective. Some supervisors in other countries also don't follow the rules of their country, and they also know that international students are less likely to know and understand the rules, and will be more accepting if they're broken. Being in a foreign country is difficult enough without having to confront the person who is your reason for being there, so you also have to be very careful with who you sign up to work with, and that's particularly difficult when you're far away from them. I know a lot of people see the Scandinavian countries as a place where the grass is greener, however Norway does work on a PhD as an employment contract system which does mean you have responsibilities like that, though this may have the advantage that you will have defined hours in your contract. A lot of people expect these kinds of things to be part of a PhD going in but your understanding of the PhD will change quite a lot throughout the degree, and one of the advantages of the UK system is that you're given a continuous choice throughout on whether to participate, and choosing not to won't affect whether you have enough money to live on.

There are some systems which will give you more leeway with supervisor choice amongst other benefits, for example the American system and some other systems which are based on the American style of PhD will get you to take classes during the first year or two and you will choose your supervisor during that time. However these systems usually suffer from difficulties elsewhere, e.g. you'll have to teach, have to work on projects other than your own, and these can reduce the amount of time spent on your own research by a huge amount.

I'd also be aware that the UK leaving the EU will have quite significant impacts on your search for a PhD. My passport is British but a particular one which doesn't provide me with EU status and this caused me huge troubles and disadvantages in the application process on top of that when I was applying to non-UK EU universities. Hong Kong and the US ended up being the most suitable options for me as they have good funding for internationals, relatively accessible admission requirements for people needing funding, and top quality universities which are readily known (actually Hong Kong was massively easier from these perspectives, but America was still doable). If I had higher grades then Australia would have also been on that list.
Last edited by Helloworld_95; 2 weeks ago
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