FlexyWex101
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I'd like some advice on whether it's worth my applying to Oxbridge for a PhD (in the humanities). I would need to get a funded place in order to study there, and I can't afford to waste the £150 quid in application fees on an application that is unlikely to be successful.

I'm finding it hard to assess my chances myself because I have an unconventional profile. On the credit side of the ledger, I have published two articles in respected mid-tier double-blind peer-reviewed journals which though not perfect, have been praised by various academics I know. I also received a high first (just below 80) for my undergraduate dissertation (from Oxbridge). However, I did not get a first overall. I only got a mid 2.1. Additionally, I will only just have started my Masters when I apply for the PhDs, so the 2.1 will be the most recent academic mark on my CV.

Given all this, do you think it is worth my time applying to Oxbridge for a PhD? Have I got a realistic shot? Or would it be more pragmatic - and productive - to focus my efforts elsewhere?
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SlaveofAll
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If Oxbridge accepts your offer, go for it. After all, it's a prestigious group of universities.

However, you need to bear in mind whatever costs you will have to pay when you're already there.

If not, choose a university you can afford.
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by FlexyWex101)
I'd like some advice on whether it's worth my applying to Oxbridge for a PhD (in the humanities). I would need to get a funded place in order to study there, and I can't afford to waste the £150 quid in application fees on an application that is unlikely to be successful.

I'm finding it hard to assess my chances myself because I have an unconventional profile. On the credit side of the ledger, I have published two articles in respected mid-tier double-blind peer-reviewed journals which though not perfect, have been praised by various academics I know. I also received a high first (just below 80) for my undergraduate dissertation (from Oxbridge). However, I did not get a first overall. I only got a mid 2.1. Additionally, I will only just have started my Masters when I apply for the PhDs, so the 2.1 will be the most recent academic mark on my CV.

Given all this, do you think it is worth my time applying to Oxbridge for a PhD? Have I got a realistic shot? Or would it be more pragmatic - and productive - to focus my efforts elsewhere?
Speak to staff in your department on the Masters, they will almost certainly tell you to take a gap year between the Masters and PhD so that you can apply next autumn with a full masters profile and grades, in particular it will make your references much stronger.

It's worth a shot in any case.
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FlexyWex101
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
Speak to staff in your department on the Masters, they will almost certainly tell you to take a gap year between the Masters and PhD so that you can apply next autumn with a full masters profile and grades, in particular it will make your references much stronger.

It's worth a shot in any case.
Thanks for the reply! I think I get what you're saying but just to clarify: you're saying that the most likely scenario is that I won't get funding this time round and will have to reapply, ideally with a strong masters mark, in which case I will be much more competitive (and presumably have a realistically very good chance of getting it, with the gap year?). But also, that my chances aren't so low at the moment that it isn't worth a shot this time around (i.e. without Masters marks in hand) too?
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FlexyWex101
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(Original post by SlaveofAll)
If Oxbridge accepts your offer, go for it. After all, it's a prestigious group of universities.

However, you need to bear in mind whatever costs you will have to pay when you're already there.

If not, choose a university you can afford.
Sorry, I should have been clearer: my concern isn't affording the costs of living once I'm there, well, it is, but that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm more trying to gauge whether I have a realistic chance of getting an offer of a funded place with my current profile. My feeling is two-way.
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by FlexyWex101)
Thanks for the reply! I think I get what you're saying but just to clarify: you're saying that the most likely scenario is that I won't get funding this time round and will have to reapply, ideally with a strong masters mark, in which case I will be much more competitive (and presumably have a realistically very good chance of getting it, with the gap year?). But also, that my chances aren't so low at the moment that it isn't worth a shot this time around (i.e. without Masters marks in hand) too?
If you are starting your Masters this September/October, you will likely find that your academic staff advise you not to apply this December, but to wait until next year to make an application. There's no point in making an application without the support of your academic staff.

The trend, certainly in the Arts and Humanities, is that funded applicants tend, though not always, to come from those that apply having completed their Masters. They have a full set of results in hand, and much stronger references, as well as richer research proposals.
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SlaveofAll
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(Original post by FlexyWex101)
Sorry, I should have been clearer: my concern isn't affording the costs of living once I'm there, well, it is, but that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm more trying to gauge whether I have a realistic chance of getting an offer of a funded place with my current profile. My feeling is two-way.
I see, although consideration about affordability should be in mind as well.
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medicphd
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I would say go for it. Getting a PhD place is more than just having perfect grades. The fact that you already have 2 publications will set you far apart from most people. I applied for a PhD whilst doing an MSc and I got it (albeit this is STEM not humanities), so you won't know unless you try.
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FlexyWex101
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
If you are starting your Masters this September/October, you will likely find that your academic staff advise you not to apply this December, but to wait until next year to make an application. There's no point in making an application without the support of your academic staff.

The trend, certainly in the Arts and Humanities, is that funded applicants tend, though not always, to come from those that apply having completed their Masters. They have a full set of results in hand, and much stronger references, as well as richer research proposals.
I see. And my publications are unlikely to mitigate that?
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by FlexyWex101)
I see. And my publications are unlikely to mitigate that?
No. Publications are like icing, they can sit on top of a delicious cake or a dry cake. The selection process for a funded PhD is rigorous and lots of people will have 'icing' like publications, conferences, research assistant experience etc. The academic foundations still need to be there and with a mid-range undergrad, a strong masters record is likely to be needed. That probably means being able to evidence 3 terms of Masters work, not just one.
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QHF
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Are you doing your master’s at one of the two? I know Oxford used to waive the postgraduate application fee for DPhil applicants who were already on a master’s course. Maybe they still do?

Your profile sounds mixed, but it has strong elements. No one on TSR can really realistically assess your chances, because it depends a lot on the discipline, department/faculty, and year (different cohorts of applicants are more or less blessed with large numbers of very ‘fundable’ people), and then on the inscrutable (from the outside) applicant ranking processes used. There is a machine for determining precisely and clearly whether you’ll secure funding in a given year, and it is that year’s application process. It sucks that they charge for access to it, and maybe they shouldn’t. But at the moment they do.

I’d second the advice upthread that, with an uneven undergraduate performance, you might be best served by doing the master’s and taking a year or more to do something else, and then applying in the autumn-winter after your master’s is finished, or in some later year’s application cycle. A good concrete (rather than predicted) master’s result and some strong writing samples from master’s-level work can do a lot for an application, and the extra time will also let you build your sense for your field and sub fields, and for what might be an attractive doctoral project. And your sense for the landscape of DPhil/PhD programmes, too: tempting though it is to lump them together, there’re plenty of bits of the humanities where Oxford and Cambridge are configured rather differently to each other and have different strengths, and some bits where neither is really the place to be.

One other thought: do your circumstances make the US a possible option for you? Their PhDs are longer, of course, and different. But their top graduate schools tend to have more funding available, and can be decent places to study some things, sometimes.
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