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    I'm seriously considering applying for PhD studentships in the coming autumn. It's likely to be in either the molecular biosciences or pathology/infection. How many do people typically apply for? Is it common for people to apply for more than one at a particular university?

    Cheers.
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    (Original post by tetedupet)
    I'm seriously considering applying for PhD studentships in the coming autumn. It's likely to be in either the molecular biosciences or pathology/infection. How many do people typically apply for? Is it common for people to apply for more than one at a particular university?

    Cheers.
    Given the numbers of people going into postgrad education, you're looking at application numbers that could be going into triple figures, especially if there's money involved

    It's pretty common for most people to apply to a wide range of studentships/PhDs given success rates.
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    (Original post by apotoftea)
    Given the numbers of people going into postgrad education, you're looking at application numbers that could be going into triple figures, especially if there's money involved

    It's pretty common for most people to apply to a wide range of studentships/PhDs given success rates.
    Annoying for me as I have always genuinely wanted to go into academia, I'm not just doing this to get through the recession! Any advice on making my application as strong as possible? I scored a first this year in my exams and I have been working on a lab project this summer for which I received a wellcome trust vacation scholarship. Is there anything else I should be doing to be giving myself a competitive edge?
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    (Original post by tetedupet)
    Annoying for me as I have always genuinely wanted to go into academia, I'm not just doing this to get through the recession!
    Join the club!

    Any advice on making my application as strong as possible? I scored a first this year in my exams and I have been working on a lab project this summer for which I received a wellcome trust vacation scholarship. Is there anything else I should be doing to be giving myself a competitive edge?
    Well things like Wellcome Trust on your CV will definitely help so that's a good thing to have! Very good references are key and it is about who you know Get really involved at the Wellcome Trust because that way you might be able to get a reference off of them.

    Are you going into your third this September then? If so, hard work so keep your results as good as possible. Start work on your statement of purpose/research proposal early as they can take months to get right so the sooner you start bashing ideas around about why that research at the institution of x with Dr or Proff Y will all help. The skills gained from your lab work and why they'll help you at PhD level etc.

    Bar that, there is an element of luck in it but just keep working at all - you've got some time on your side as well

    Oh and double check the entry requirements - because of the numbers going into postgrad education, a studentship in your field that use to take freshly graduated undergrads may have put the MSc requirement on it, just to cut numbers down/up the standard of students applying. You could have a fantastic CV with extra things like a Wellcome Trust scholarship but if you're coming up against people who have their lab experience, scholarships AND an MSc to boot, they'll take the better qualified student as they'll require less research training in the long term.
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    (Original post by tetedupet)
    I'm seriously considering applying for PhD studentships in the coming autumn. It's likely to be in either the molecular biosciences or pathology/infection. How many do people typically apply for? Is it common for people to apply for more than one at a particular university?

    Cheers.
    You don't have to limit yourself to UK institutions... If you are interested in molecular biology - why not USA (Harvard, Stanford) or Canada (McGill/U of T) ? Lot of stimulus $$ for research funding and top labs/scientists.
    You can also do an internship at a biotech Co. prior to starting your grad degree. Nestle in Switzerland, or Amgen are 2 that come to mind that offer them.
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    (Original post by apotoftea)
    Oh and double check the entry requirements - because of the numbers going into postgrad education, a studentship in your field that use to take freshly graduated undergrads may have put the MSc requirement on it, just to cut numbers down/up the standard of students applying. You could have a fantastic CV with extra things like a Wellcome Trust scholarship but if you're coming up against people who have their lab experience, scholarships AND an MSc to boot, they'll take the better qualified student as they'll require less research training in the long term.
    I wouldn't be too scared of being out-competed by MSc applicants. Some places may select against you for it but there are others to whom it'll just be something they put on to cut the number of applicants down. It'd probably depend on whether they put "required" or "preferred" but it doesn't cost you much to apply anyway if it's a position you really want. They can always reject you if it is strictly required but you might impress them enough to get an interview.
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    Most of the ones I've been looking at appear to be combined MPhil or MRes with a PhD, I'd probably apply for these ones.
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    (Original post by RadioElectric)
    I wouldn't be too scared of being out-competed by MSc applicants. Some places may select against you for it but there are others to whom it'll just be something they put on to cut the number of applicants down. It'd probably depend on whether they put "required" or "preferred" but it doesn't cost you much to apply anyway if it's a position you really want. They can always reject you if it is strictly required but you might impress them enough to get an interview.
    Didn't say to be scared did I? And to the OP - definitely don't be put off. However in response to the OP's question about numbers applying and how best to stand out from the crowd, you're going to come up against people who are better qualified than yourself. In the same way that so many people get rejected for funding or studentships even with a first/distinction at MA level profile. Competition is VERY tough at the moment and at the end of the day, even if they don't specify that applicants need an MSc or it's a preferred requirement, it may well the institution's way of sifting applicants and as a result, given that funding's been cut across the board as well, you could have one of the best applications going but you still might not make it to interview.


    I'm only saying this because as a general whole, unless you've been through the postgrad selection process for studentships, funding or even applications, you really cannot gauge how cutthroat and competitive postgraduate study is ESPECIALLY if money's involved. I'm being openly realistic with the OP so that when they come to apply, they've covered and read about every eventuality
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    (Original post by tetedupet)
    Most of the ones I've been looking at appear to be combined MPhil or MRes with a PhD, I'd probably apply for these ones.
    I think a lot of PhDs are combined with MPhil even if they don't advertise that. What that means (at least for the ones I have experience of) is that after you've "done" the MPhil they look at the work you've done so far and decide whether to keep you until you finish your PhD.
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    (Original post by apotoftea)
    I'm only saying this because as a general whole, unless you've been through the postgrad selection process for studentships, funding or even applications, you really cannot gauge how cutthroat and competitive postgraduate study is ESPECIALLY if money's involved. I'm being openly realistic with the OP so that when they come to apply, they've covered and read about every eventuality
    I'm not sure whether you were after a response to this but I should say I've secured a funded PhD studentship for the coming year. I've also failed to get one and been told it was because I didn't have a masters (though in that case it actually turned out that another project was given funding rather than the one I applied for, so I'm not sure how to take what I was told).

    (Original post by apotoftea)
    Didn't say to be scared did I? And to the OP - definitely don't be put off. However in response to the OP's question about numbers applying and how best to stand out from the crowd, you're going to come up against people who are better qualified than yourself. In the same way that so many people get rejected for funding or studentships even with a first/distinction at MA level profile. Competition is VERY tough at the moment and at the end of the day, even if they don't specify that applicants need an MSc or it's a preferred requirement, it may well the institution's way of sifting applicants and as a result, given that funding's been cut across the board as well, you could have one of the best applications going but you still might not make it to interview.
    You said they'd take "better qualified" students over him (i.e. ones that have a masters). I don't think that's strictly true and, as you say, I don't think not having a masters should put you off going for a PhD. It seems to me that there tend to be several internal tensions going on in the admissions process and there aren't many hard-and-fast rules for who is and who isn't guaranteed a place. I don't mean to be contrary but advice like that which I felt you were delivering is what almost cost me a lot of money doing a masters, which it turns out would have been unnecessary.
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    (Original post by RadioElectric)
    I'm not sure whether you were after a response to this but I should say I've secured a funded PhD studentship for the coming year. I've also failed to get one and been told it was because I didn't have a masters (though in that case it actually turned out that another project was given funding rather than the one I applied for, so I'm not sure how to take what I was told).
    Point number 1 - it's luck of the draw, who you come up against, numbers of applicants and what they're looking for in said applicants.

    You said they'd take "better qualified" students over him (i.e. ones that have a masters). I don't think that's strictly true and, as you say, I don't think not having a masters should put you off going for a PhD. It seems to me that there tend to be several internal tensions going on in the admissions process and there aren't many hard-and-fast rules for who is and who isn't guaranteed a place. I don't mean to be contrary but advice like that which I felt you were delivering is what almost cost me a lot of money doing a masters, which it turns out would have been unnecessary.
    I didn't say they would ALWAYS take the better qualified student though did I? I just said having a further qualification will always only aid your application, it'll never have a negative factor. And I know for my field, you'd have to be FANTASTIC to take someone straight out of undergrad without a relevant Masters.

    Once again - I'm not putting the OP off but just making it clear that like everything else in life, you will always come up against people who are better qualified and as a result of this, your chances of you getting a studentship or funding may well decrease. I'm not saying it's a hard and fast rule BUT it does and will happen, especially for the bigger institutions who can be highly picky over their new students.

    And you don't know that doing a Masters course would have been unnecessary - you've been very lucky and obviously impressed the admissions board for whatever it was you applied for. There were most likely other PhD applications that you could have gone for that you wouldn't have got because you didn't have a relevant Masters course. In terms of academia, having an MA/MSc or whatever will never hurt your chances as you've proved that you've furthered your knowledge and had some experience of postgrad life before the commitment of a 3 year PhD. It definitely doesn't make you more employable or more suitable but given the current state of postgrad education it certainly helps.

    And once again - people need to be aware that they may well have the best application going but at the end of the day, especially at the moment, even that isn't good enough. I have not once said to the OP that they should do a Masters course first - far from it, just that they may well lose out to students who do have a Master's in a field that links to any prospect PhD studentship.
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    (Original post by apotoftea)
    I didn't say they would ALWAYS take the better qualified student though did I?
    Sorry, that's just how I took "You could have a fantastic CV with extra things like a Wellcome Trust scholarship but if you're coming up against people who have their lab experience, scholarships AND an MSc to boot, they'll take the better qualified student as they'll require less research training in the long term".

    (Original post by apotoftea)
    I just said having a further qualification will always only aid your application, it'll never have a negative factor. And I know for my field, you'd have to be FANTASTIC to take someone straight out of undergrad without a relevant Masters.
    It must depend on the field then. In the areas I'm familiar with (biology, neuroscience and neuropsychology) most of the people I know who have or are working towards PhD did not do a masters first.

    (Original post by apotoftea)
    And you don't know that doing a Masters course would have been unnecessary - you've been very lucky and obviously impressed the admissions board for whatever it was you applied for.
    Lucky? I don't think they flipped a coin.

    Edit: And I do know it was unnecessary. If it was necessary I wouldn't be going into research in the area I'm interested in, surely? I probably would have enjoyed it at the time but I would have kicked myself for how much it would have cost me (even though I did get funding for it, it wouldn't have been enough).
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    (Original post by RadioElectric)
    It must depend on the field then. In the areas I'm familiar with (biology, neuroscience and neuropsychology) most of the people I know who have or are working towards PhD did not do a masters first.
    It does and naturally the Sciences take students straight from undergrad. However, I have heard from those in know as it were that even the Sciences are beginning to sift through applications to cut down numbers and naturally have a MSc is only going to help you get on the 'yes' pile.

    Lucky? I don't think they flipped a coin.
    There is an element of luck in all postgrad applications - ask any of the postgrads on this forum. Luck will always rear its ugly head in postgraduate life
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    (Original post by apotoftea)
    There is an element of luck in all postgrad applications - ask any of the postgrads on this forum. Luck will always rear its ugly head in postgraduate life
    Would you not be insulted if somebody told you your achievements were down to "luck"? :p:

    Edit: And regarding the other half of your post. I've heard that too, but I promise you it's only been from people trying to fill undersubscribed masters courses. The response from independent parties when I said I was going to do a masters was largely "why?".
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    OP: I applied for 3 and got all 3 (luckily). Not having a MSc won't really count against you - I only had a Bachelors when I applied. The most important thing is previous research experience.
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    (Original post by RadioElectric)
    Would you not be insulted if somebody told you your achievements were down to "luck"? :p:
    Not really - I've had far worse said about my own BA degree so anything else is an achievement and two fingers up at them

    Edit: And regarding the other half of your post. I've heard that too, but I promise you it's only been from people trying to fill undersubscribed masters courses. The response from independent parties when I said I was going to do a masters was largely "why?".
    I guess it all depends on the subject but like I say - given the state of the postgrad world, it'll never harm your chances. Plus these days you'll more likely to come up against people who did the MSc for whatever reason, left the academic world and now have decided to go back into it as they can't find a job.

    I think the OP's got a good chance given what they've said about going straight into a PhD studentship. I was merely highlighting the problems of applying for them and the applicants you will come up against
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    (Original post by Comp_Genius)
    OP: I applied for 3 and got all 3 (luckily). Not having a MSc won't really count against you - I only had a Bachelors when I applied. The most important thing is previous research experience.
    Thanks, that's the general impression I am getting. I wouldn't consider doing an MSc, most of the of the PhD and Post-docs students I've been working with and talking to didn't do an MSc... Perhaps times are different now though, but it's a rather large financial commitment that I'm not prepared, or can afford to make really! Annoyingly UCL have only just brought in the MSci in Biology and it's not available to my year group :mad:
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    (Original post by tetedupet)
    Thanks, that's the general impression I am getting. I wouldn't consider doing a MSc, most of the of the PhD and Post-docs students I've been working with and talking to didn't do an MSc... Perhaps times are different now though, but it's a rather large financial commitment that I'm not prepared, or can afford to make really! Annoyingly UCL have only just brought in the MSci in Biology and it's not available to my year group :mad:
    The undergrad Masters really wouldn't make a difference. If for your field, the majority of people don't have MSc and are now doing doctoral or post-doc work then definitely go for it and don't worry about doing a MSc.

    I personally was merely pointing out that competition is going to be tough (and you were asking how best to stand out) and it's the one of the many reasons why you may not be successful 100% of the time when it comes to applying. I literally only mentioned it because unis may well (not saying they have or will for definite) change entry requirements so it's best to keep your eyes open, nothing more. Best of luck
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    (Original post by apotoftea)
    I guess it all depends on the subject but like I say - given the state of the postgrad world, it'll never harm your chances. Plus these days you'll more likely to come up against people who did the MSc for whatever reason, left the academic world and now have decided to go back into it as they can't find a job.
    Absolutely. I'm just a bit energetic in my opposition to the people recommending MSc courses to get a PhD at the moment, citing increased competition due to the financial crisis. For most people doing an MSc means that getting a career development loan or something similar will be necessary (most funding will only cover fees and some living costs) and I object to advice that's going to lead young people into more debt during a recession.

    Edit: Sorry, didn't mean to imply that was your recommendation
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    (Original post by RadioElectric)
    Absolutely. I'm just a bit energetic in my opposition to the people recommending MSc courses to get a PhD at the moment, citing increased competition due to the financial crisis. For most people doing an MSc means that getting a career development loan or something similar will be necessary (most funding will only cover fees and some living costs) and I object to advice that's going to lead young people into more debt during a recession.

    Edit: Sorry, didn't mean to imply that was your recommendation
    Well I didn't recommend the OP to do a MSc, merely pointed out that some applicants will have them and numbers applying for PhD studentships are pretty high at the moment and it may well make competition harder so no worries there

    CDLs should be banned personally - they're evil!
 
 
 
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