Why do a PhD?
A PhD can be a brilliant opportunity to undertake detailed research into an area that you really care about. It is a rare opportunity to really grapple with a subject and contribute something to your field.
If you want to pursue a career in academia, a PhD is increasingly regarded as a pre-requisite. It is also valuable in other careers, providing an excellent way to develop your research and analytical skills, as well as the all important ability to sustain focus on a long and challenging project. Or, you might have a much simpler motivation. One of my PhD colleagues insists that she is only doing the PhD because she wants to be a ‘Dr’!
Can you commit?
A PhD is a long term relationship. Whenever I am at a wedding, I always think that the promises that the bride and groom make to each other could easily be applied to my PhD: ‘for better or for worse, in sickness and in health’. Your motivation (even if just to become a ‘Dr’) needs to be clear to you because that is what you will rely on to keep you going when the going gets tough. And the going does get tough! If the thought of committing to one project for 3 years or more bores you to tears, stop reading now, the PhD isn’t for you. If you think you can commit, read on…
Applying and getting funding
Applying for PhD is much like applying for any other job: there’ll be a process to follow. Some PhD projects are advertised and include funding as part of the package. Others will be open to anyone and for any project, leaving it up to you to persuade the institution that your proposed topic is PhD-worthy. For these, you will usually need to get a place on the PhD programme first, and then apply for the funding to pay for it.
Find out more
A PhD shouldn’t be undertaken lightly, so make sure to do your research. Ask past and present PhD students for their views, speak to potential supervisors or academic mentors, mine the internet (e.g. http://www.vitae.ac.uk), there is even a Twitter hashtag (#phdchat) for the PhD Community!
You could also make some enquiries in person. The Postgraduate Studentships PhD Funding Fair will be in town on 10 December 2013, bringing together over 20 of the UK’s top quality Universities, all with specific PhD funding to offer. Find out more from: www.postgraduatestudentships.co.uk/phdfair.
Don’t forget that you can also talk to a Careers Consultant right here at QM, whether to talk about PhDs generally or to get advice on your CV and application. To book an appointment Call 0207 882 8533 or visit the Careers & Enterprise Centre Queens’ Building WG3.
Applications Adviser (and PhD Candidate)
QM Careers & Enterprise Centre