Although it might seem like you’ve only just started your masters, if you’re thinking of a PhD, now is a great time to explore your options, with plenty of opportunities to get all your questions answered.
On 25th October the University is holding its Postgraduate Research programmes Open Day to help you discover more about staying in Manchester for your PhD. Whatever your subject or particular area of interest, the open day will give you an insight into the broad range of postgraduate research opportunities available. University staff and current postgraduate students will be on hand throughout the day to give you information about the admissions process, funding arrangements and the support available to you as a postgraduate research student at The University of Manchester.
Then, on Wednesday 15 November you will be able to find out about what’s available at other institutions by visiting the Postgraduate Study Fair at Manchester Central where over 90 institutions will be exhibiting.
You don’t have to be certain about whether further study is for you – these events will give you the information you need to make an informed decision. But in the meantime, here are somethings to consider:
Is a PhD for you?
- The first thing you need to consider is if you actually like your topic enough to study it for three years – or possibly even longer. You’ll be studying it day in, day out, so you’ll need to be sure your passion for the subject can carry you through to completion.
What does a Research degree look like?
- The basic definition of a PhD is a degree involving three or more years of independent research on an original topic culminating in the submission of a thesis, but there different types of programme. Some can involve a taught element, or specific training in research skills; others may focus on interdisciplinary research, or involve a research partnership with another institution or external organisation.
- Working for three years on an independent piece of research is a real shift change in your education and it’s worth exploring the reality of studying for a PhD. You will be expected to manage and shape your research and manage your own time. The University Open Day on the 25th October will give you the chance to meet current PhD students – don’t be afraid to ask them about how and where they study and how they manage their workload.
What is the application process?
- Applying for a PhD is very different from applying for a Masters. It’s very much about you defining what you want to research. It’s a good idea to talk to one of your academics or lecturers as they will be able to tell you if your idea is a good one, and most importantly if anyone else has studied it before you. They may also be able to suggest projects you might enjoy.
- When you have decided on a topic or area you would like to study, you’ll have to investigate universities with suitable academics or projects. Unlike when you apply for an undergraduate course, you need to find a department which aligns with your specific research interests and has a supervisor willing to take on new PhD students.
- The application process is also quite complicated, and varies from institution to institution, so making sure you know all the facts before you begin will save you a lot of time and stress. If you already have an idea of which institutions you are interested in, make sure you talk to them at the Postgraduate Study Fair about processes and upcoming deadlines.
What about funding?
- If you need funding it’s important that you explore your options early. With talks and sessions at both the open day and study fair on general funding as well as the chance the talk to staff about the specifics it’s the best opportunity you’ll have to gather lots of information within the space of a few weeks. Sites such as FindAMasters , Find A PhD, Postgraduate Studentships and Prospects are all really useful resources as is The University website for information about funding your studies here.
- Remember to ask about the application process for funding and can often mean a separate application to each individual institution or funding body. These applications might also require you to write new documents, again starting early and doing your research will really help.