Doing a PhD


Published on

Dr Peter Meacock gave a talk in the 2007 Careers After Biological Science seminar series on "Doing a PhD". These are his slides (slightly revised in June 2009).

Published in: Education, Health & Medicine
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total Views
On Slideshare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Doing a PhD

  1. 1. Careers after Biosciences - Doing a PhD <ul><li>Dr Peter Meacock </li></ul><ul><li>Sub-Dean for Graduate Studies </li></ul><ul><li>Faculty of Medicine & Biological Sciences </li></ul>Dr P Meacock What does a PhD involve? Why do it? How long & how much? Entry requirements? How funded? How, where and when to apply?
  2. 2. What does a PhD involve? Training as an independent researcher - to practise and lead research <ul><li>Totally different to Undergraduate degree </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Investigative, not taught </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No terms or long vacations; more like “employment”! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Less formal structure; self-motivation is critical! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Original research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Own project (YOUR responsibility) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Supervisor/Thesis committee ( the key relationship! ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Member of a research group (contribute to team effort) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Progress monitoring (probationary year 1) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Skills-training & professional development </li></ul><ul><li>Thesis writing and examination </li></ul><ul><li>Viva voce defence with two expert Examiners </li></ul>Dr P Meacock
  3. 3. Why do a PhD ? <ul><li>Learn more about subject </li></ul><ul><li>Enjoy “doing” research </li></ul><ul><li>Contribute to knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Become a professional independent researcher </li></ul><ul><li>Career advancement - leadership & responsibility in research - many other careers too! - separates you from other BSc graduates </li></ul><ul><li>Employability and Skills development - Research;- technical, problem-solving, intellectual rigour - Organisational;- project & time management, IT - Communication;- presentation (written and oral), IT - Personal;- commitment, initiative, adaptability - Interpersonal;- team-working, net-working, negotiation </li></ul>Dr P Meacock
  4. 4. How long does it take? How much does it cost? <ul><li>Registration </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Full-time; min 2 years, max 4yrs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Part-time; min 3yrs, max 6 yrs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Yr 1 probationary (APG); Yr 4 “writing-up” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Realistically full-time 4 years </li></ul><ul><ul><li>24/7/52 commitment! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Costs (= investment) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Registration: H/EU £3,390pa; Int’l £12,650pa </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stipend: 2009 UK RC rate £13,290 (tax-free) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Travel/conferences: ~ £300 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Research costs: mol biol ~£8K-10K pa (dept support) </li></ul></ul>Dr P Meacock
  5. 5. Entrance requirements? <ul><li>Entry requirements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>First or 2i BSc degree, or MRes/MSc, in relevant subject (2ii with good MSc upgrade will normally be considered) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Supportive academic references </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strong performance in interview </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Looking for </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Aptitude for research (curiosity, creativity & initiative) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enthusiasm, motivation & commitment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good academic background & subject knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Research experience (yr3 project, summer vac’n research & Sandwich yr) </li></ul></ul>Dr P Meacock
  6. 6. How do I fund it? <ul><li>Studentships (BBSRC, MRC, NERC, Wellcome Trust, charities, industry) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pay fees, stipend, travel, research costs (basic award) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Supplemented, if RC CASE-award with industry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Last for 3 to 4 years </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Administered through departments/supervisors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Eligibility restrictions (normally UK/EU only) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Limited number, so competitive! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Employment, eg. as RA (part-time PhD) </li></ul><ul><li>International students </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Home country scholarships, eg. government? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Partial awards via UK university (eg Scholarships) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>British Council </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some Charities/Foundations (eg Chevening) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Self </li></ul></ul>Dr P Meacock
  7. 7. How to apply <ul><li>No UCAS scheme, or equivalent </li></ul><ul><li>Applications direct to supervisor or dept, or via University Graduate School/Office </li></ul><ul><li>Decide YOU want to do it – not a default ! Decide your research area </li></ul><ul><li>Apply for advertised PhD places and studentships </li></ul><ul><li>Write directly to depts/supervisors of interest </li></ul>Dr P Meacock
  8. 8. How to find PhD opportunities? When to apply? <ul><li>Information sources </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Biological Sciences academic staff </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Web pages of depts/supervisors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Postgraduate Prospectuses of Uni’s </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Commercial web sites (FindaPhD,, NewScientist) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Posters on Notice boards </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ads in periodicals (New Scientist, Nature) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>When to apply </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Early in final year (November-January) onwards </li></ul></ul>Dr P Meacock
  9. 9. What do YOU need to check out? <ul><li>Having decided YOU do want to do a PhD;- </li></ul><ul><li>Decide what research area interests you and investigate opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>Project - interesting, rewarding & achievable? (4 yrs of your life, or more!) </li></ul><ul><li>International quality research environment? (RAE score of department) </li></ul><ul><li>Good PhD training & support environment? </li></ul><ul><li>Supervisor - successful PhD track record ? </li></ul><ul><li>Could you “work” with supervisor? </li></ul>Dr P Meacock
  10. 10. Sources of information about “Doing a PhD” and PhD careers <ul><li>VitaeProgramme http:// </li></ul><ul><li>FindaPhD </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>New Scientist </li></ul><ul><li>Science Careers First Wave </li></ul><ul><li>UKCGE </li></ul>Dr P Meacock
  1. A particular slide catching your eye?

    Clipping is a handy way to collect important slides you want to go back to later.