THE COSMIC WEB
to the PhD
What is a PhD?
• Postgraduate Research Degree
• Examined by presentation of a
thesis and viva voce
examination (must contain
original, publishable research).
• 3 years (+~0.5 “writing up”)
• Often 5 years elsewhere (USA,
What comes after?
• About 50% stay in academic
• Next step is a postdoc (2-3 years)
• Attrition rate is heavy thereafter
• Steady-state means each
supervisor generates 1 permanent
How to choose a PhD
• The most important thing is the
project – it needs to be something
that will drive you.
• Check out potential supervisors.
Are they publishing? Getting cited?
• Talk to staff in your own institution
in the area you want to work; they
will help you find destinations
• Choose something that interests
you – not necessarily what you did
in your UG projects!
• A “good” honours degree – at least
• Some areas are more competitive
than others, and in sexy areas you
may need a 1st and or a Masters
• It’s easier to get a place than to
get funding because there are
fewer bursaries than qualified
• UK Research Councils pay
Universities (DTA) who pay PhD
students a STIPEND
• Current rate £13590 (£15590 in
• Fee paid from DTA
• Most universities also have their
own bursaries at the same rate
• Teaching/demonstrating is extra
• Various schemes throughout
Europe – advertised in dept.
• Many institutes in EU have English
as their working language…e.g.
Max Planck Institutes, Denmark
• In USA, usually have to do
teaching (graduate teaching
assistant), but better paid…
How to Apply
• Standard application forms
• Two referees, usually personal
tutor and project supervisor
• Research “proposal”, usually
general area only needed.
• STFC – interviews usuall in
Feb/March, decisions end of
• Most applications arrive in
• EPSRC a bit later
• This is the crucial bit of the
• Expect a grilling!
• Be prepared to talk about your
• It’s your chance to find out
about the place..
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