What is a PhD?
A PhD, otherwise known as a “Doctor of Philosophy” is the highest level of degree you can achieve. The content and structure of your PhD will vary depending on your institution, subject (e.g. humanities or STEM), and duration (e.g. full time or part time). There are also different types of PhD and doctorate programmes, with some involving more specialised work designed for practical or professional use. The most common PhD, however, essentially involves around 3-4 years of independent work wherein you will conduct your own original research.
The goal of your PhD will usually be to produce an essay (known as a thesis) of around 80,000 words on your research. Your entire PhD will be devoted to this work, with the aim being to offer original and significant contributions to the field. You will be assessed on this thesis alone and will usually be required to defend it in an oral presentation and exam. The structure of a PhD is not the same for everyone, but usually you can expect it to look like this:
- First year: Devise your study with your supervisor and write your literature review
- Second year: Collect your data
- Third year: Write up your thesis
While your PhD is centred on your thesis, your time at university will often involve additional exciting projects. For example, you may choose to supervise the small-scale projects of undergraduate students, organise conferences, and publish segments of your ongoing thesis. Being a PhD student means being part of a vibrant intellectual community and often includes access to lectures, conferences and seminars conducted by leading researchers in the field.
You may wish to study at PhD level because you want a career in academia; to hugely enhance a variety of skills that will demonstrate your desirability in job applications; or, simply, because you have a strong enthusiasm to closely explore a topic that has long been of interest to you. You may start a PhD at any point in your life. That said, this is not a decision to be made lightly: PhDs cost a lot, are highly time-consuming, and generally require you to have already completed both an undergraduate and master’s degree. As such, it is recommended that you thoroughly consider whether a PhD is a good choice for you.
What is involved in the PhD applications process?
There is no central system for applying for PhDs. Instead, you will need to research individual institutions and their faculties to see what PhDs and academic support they can offer. You will need to consider the length of study, the course structure, and the members of staff available to you – as well as any extra factors that are important to you. Deadlines may vary depending on the institution. Generally, to apply, the following will need to be done:
- Research the PhDs on offer at different institutions.
- Identify a supervisor within your chosen faculty. Usually you will need to contact them and propose your ideas, since they may be the ones overseeing your PhD.
- If they agree to supervise you, you will then need to develop a research proposal which you will submit alongside other parts of your application to the faculty.
- Submit two to three academic references, your CV, academic transcripts, and a personal statement. This will usually be done through an online portal provided by the faculty/university website.
- Typically, you will also need to submit applications for funding. PhDs are financially challenging and so most applicants apply to university-run or external funding bodies in order to get some financial assistance. Getting funding is usually much easier for those wishing to study a PhD in STEM than in the arts and humanities.
- You will need to hold an undergraduate degree and, most likely, a master’s degree.
- You will need to provide evidence of English language proficiency.
- You can submit applications to any number of universities, but applications tend to have a fee and are all individually time consuming.
Ultimately it is important to bear in mind that PhDs are exciting but tough, so make sure you look into this option carefully! PhDs are an incredibly rewarding experience that will allow you to develop interests, connections, skills, and a unique project of which you can be proud.
How Mayfair Consultants PhD applications tutors can assist you:
In addition to PhD application advice, we offer PhD tutors for students preparing for Interviews across the range of subjects at graduate and postgraduate level. As well as helping with interviews, we will also suggest suitable courses and research proposals as well and further reading. We further offer private tuition for your thesis and proposal as well as career options. Many of our fully-qualified tutors have direct experience of the application and interview procedure at particular institutions sector and hold advanced postgraduate degrees (PhDs).
If you’d like arrange private lessons or have any questions about our graduate, postgraduate & PhD application services, then please call us on Tel: +44 (0) 207 665 6606 or you can send us an email via our contact form.
What is a PhD?
Advice for conducting a PhD: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrMwAOtB9S4