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York St John University | www.yorksj.ac.uk How to get onto a PhD Dr John Rule Research Development Manager Academic Development Directorate.

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Presentation on theme: "York St John University | www.yorksj.ac.uk How to get onto a PhD Dr John Rule Research Development Manager Academic Development Directorate."— Presentation transcript:

1 York St John University | How to get onto a PhD Dr John Rule Research Development Manager Academic Development Directorate

2 York St John University | What are PhDs? Degrees awarded for the conduct and writing up of research into a specific topic. Last 3-4 years full-time or 5-7 part-time. Must demonstrate detailed subject knowledge, critical ability and originality. PhDs add to the global knowledge base of the subject (though normally in a very narrow area) and often form the basis for published books or articles.

3 York St John University | What kinds of research degrees are there? Choice varies between different countries and universities. Most UK universities (including YSJU) offer the following research degrees: MA or MSc by Research – 1 year full-time (2 P/T), thesis up to 30,000 words. Not an easy option – tight time management vital - think of racing in a competitive 100 meter sprint. MPhil - 2 years full-time (4 P/T), thesis up to 60,000 words – the middle distance option. PhD – 3-4 years full-time (5-7 P/T), thesis up to 100,000 words. Requires tenacity and endurance – like a marathon.

4 York St John University | Before you start: Questions to ask yourself and things to do Why do you want to do a PhD? Do you know what you want to do afterwards? Is your degree relevant and good enough? (2:1 typical minimum) Might other postgraduate degrees (e.g. a taught masters) be better for my needs? Where will you study? How will you fund it? How stiff is the competition for places and funding in your chosen field?

5 York St John University | In pairs (or threes) discuss why you might want to do a PhD.

6 York St John University | Why do a PhD? To put off making a career decision. To continue being a student. To avoid the job market. To improve your earning potential. To improve your academic record. Because a tutor has suggested it. Because you are passionate and committed to your subject and want to learn more about it. To facilitate your future career plans. Ambition to become an academic.

7 York St John University | What is different about PhDs from taught courses? Emphasis is on creating new knowledge not acquiring existing knowledge (though this is also important). Very different from taught degrees – normally no classes or exams (except a final oral exam – the ‘viva’). Often lack peer support and can be isolating. Candidates need to be (or be willing to quickly become) independent researchers. Require a high degree of self-motivation, an ability to focus and tenacity to stay focussed on the topic. Are supported by a supervisor. The choice of supervisor and the relationship with them is vital for success.

8 York St John University | When and how could I study a PhD? Straight after your first degree? After taking time out? After gaining experience (required for some PG courses – can be voluntary)? After getting a Masters degree? After working in a full-time role? Whilst working? Part-time, full-time or distance learning?

9 York St John University | Where could I study a PhD (1) To find out where you can study: Search databases of PhD courses e.g. Look at the information provided by professional bodies e.g. Talk to lecturers in your department. Contact University departments directly.

10 York St John University | Where could I study a PhD (2) Identify HEIs that can supervise your planned topic. Identify and decide on the best potential supervisor for your topic (not necessarily the world authority…). Make sure you have a potential supervisor who you can work with, who wants to work with you and who can and will take the time to support your development. Balance the advantages and disadvantages of different types of HEI. Talk to students who are doing research degrees – here and elsewhere.

11 York St John University | Funding More difficult that admission. Possible sources: Research Councils/British Academy Institution scholarships, bursaries, studentships, assistantships Trusts and Charities Bank Loan Career Development Loan Employer sponsorship Personal/family finance Professional Loans Schemes NHS Bursaries

12 York St John University | Funding information and cost. The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding Likely cost of a PhD full-time at YSJU - £50,600 (if you submit in 3 years) made up from £10,500 fees, £43,200 living costs, £200 binding of thesis. But also think of the loss of earnings, pension, career progression etc. of taking three years or more out of your life. This may easily be much greater than £50K. And some HEIs much more expensive than YSJU.

13 York St John University | The importance of supervisors Vital for success. Must have a main supervisor and a least one co- supervisor in the UK. Relationship compared to marriage by some and evolves over time. Can make or break you academic career prospects. Close mesh between your research interests and theirs valuable, but you can also benefit from differences (e.g. alternative methodologies). Can support you in getting published and in gaining teaching experience as well as in doing your research.

14 York St John University | In pairs (or threes): What you might look for in a supervisor?

15 York St John University | What do supervisors look for in applicants? Intelligence (but only up to a point…) Appropriate subject background knowledge/skills. Tenacity/endurance/staying power and realism. Passion/commitment. A viable research proposal with potential. Research skills – lit. searching, referencing etc. Inquiring/challenging mind. But also, willingness to learn/take advice. Potential to quickly become independent. Potential to become a valued colleague who will help progress their discipline and enhance their reputation.

16 York St John University | Research proposals Requirements vary. At YSJU expected to include: Background Objectives/Research Question Methodology Resources required Expected contribution to body of knowledge Dissemination How will the resulting knowledge be applied? Tailor for each application, generic don’t work well.

17 York St John University | Do I take this forward? If you really enjoyed working by yourself on your undergraduate dissertation and did well in it, a research degree may be right for you. If you didn’t really enjoy the undergraduate research or were not very good at it, the chances are you would be better off on a taught masters. If you want to take it forward, discuss it first with your personal tutor or dissertation supervisor. You will need a topic, a supervisor, a university and (probably) funding. If you wish to study for a research degree at YSJ contact your Faculty’s Head of Research.

18 York St John University | YSJU Heads of Research To enquire about a YSJU research degrees or to try and identify a potential supervisor at YSJU talk to your Personal Tutor or Faculty Head of Research: Arts Prof. Gary Peters Business Prof. Steve Watson L&LDr. Chris Hall E&T Prof. Sebastian Kim H&LS Prof. Howard Hall To apply for a research degree at York St John University go to:

19 York St John University | Your application Personal background details. Education and qualifications. One or two academic referees. A research proposal. Equal opportunities and marketing information are usually collected, but are not seen by those making selections.

20 York St John University | Finding completed theses Dissertations and Theses: UK & Ireland, available though services/information-learning-services/faqs-for-staff-- students/where-can-i-find-databases.aspxhttp://www.yorksj.ac.uk/information-learning- services/information-learning-services/faqs-for-staff-- students/where-can-i-find-databases.aspx Still available on site through YSJU completed theses available on ground floor of Fountains LC. Knowledge of previously completed thesis vital to ensure originality, but also as sources and to help you develop and awareness of the standards required for a doctorate (but beware of some older ones!)

21 York St John University | Useful links

22 York St John University | Reference Estelle Phillips and Derek Pugh, How to get a PhD, fifth edition, (Maidenhead, 2010)

23 York St John University | Finding out more 9 th YSJU Postgraduate Research Methodologies Conference, Monday 10 th November, 9.30 to 4.20 Bookings via: engagement/pg-research-c.aspx engagement/pg-research-c.aspx


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