How is OU MA viewed if want to do a PhD somewhere else?

(16 Posts)
Lomaamina Sun 10-Mar-13 14:31:13

Wow. That's a high threshold. 83 sounds impressive to me and I'd hope it shouldn't hold you back from being considered favourably, all other things being considered.

mirai Sun 10-Mar-13 13:03:55

I'm doing an OU masters and the distinction is actually set at 85, not 70. Quite galling as I'm currently at an 83 with just my final project left to go (which apparently tends to be scored lower than the coursework!) sad

Lomaamina Fri 08-Mar-13 15:32:00

Hi fivecupsoftea. In my department we wouldn't require a distinction, but it certainly helps (can you explain the lack of overall A grade marks due to your work committments etc? Mature students are viewed a bit more generously in such circumstances.) If there's no chance of a distinction (although it's worth double-checking what you need to get a distinction since many universities give a distinction based on GPA over 70, rather than a steady 70 or above across the board), at least make jolly sure your dissertation is an A grade one. Your grades will be considered alongside the strength of your research proposal and references, which will have to be very clear about your research potential.

fivecupsoftea Fri 08-Mar-13 11:42:18

Hi, Can I join your thread? I have read the advice with interest, I'd also like to do a phd. I got a 2,2 in my first degee (over 20 years ago - what was I thinking not to study better? I was defnitely capable of more). I completed a masters 14 years ago, I got 68%, but it does not say this on my certificate and the uni have no transcipts ging back that far. I'm now doing a second masters, I won't get a distiction, though I have had distinction for many pieces of work. Dops this basically mean that my chances of getting accepted to do a phd are very low?

Crummymum Sun 24-Feb-13 00:06:43

Thank you, Lomaamina. It's funny, because I was thinking, just today, that the three people I know who have PhD's from a London RG uni, all began via the Mphil route. I'd never questioned it when they were doing it, but now I'm trying to work out my own path, I realised the pattern.

I actually got my first degree from Birkbeck (2:1 hons) whilst working full time, so I think I'm pretty good at managing my time etc. and I'm determined! I now wished I'd worked harder to get a first, but I was just grateful to get a degree at the time!

Thanks also for the book and website recommendations.

Lomaamina Sat 23-Feb-13 17:47:54

Just to add to the helpful advice above that in my field we'd not look askance at an MA/MSc from the OU. On the contrary. To have obtained a good Master's while working or caring full-time is good proof of your abilitiy to manage the pressures and stresses of a PhD.

Also that it is standard where I am (a RG London university) to require you to be registered for an MPhil, then go through a formal upgrade to PhD, all within the envelope of a 3 year full-time (or PT equivalent).

Lastly, whilst it is true that increasingly people do an MRes prior to a PhD; or at least a research heavy degree with a 90 credit or more research component, we regularly accept people with dissertations worth 60 credits (and the remaining 120 credits taught), so long as the candidate has a distinction and that all the other boxes are ticked (i.e well thought through research proposal, evidence they've read around the field etc.).

I strongly recommend 'How to Get a PhD' - an OU publications as it happens. Also keep an eye on www.findaphd.com/ to get a sense of funded PhDs.

Crummymum Fri 22-Feb-13 21:03:09

Thank you TheCollieDog and creamteas. A lot of really useful and helpful details to digest. Thank you so much for taking the time; it will really help me focus. smile

creamteas Fri 22-Feb-13 16:17:47

Collie only because I recently ran a career development day for PhD students and could cut and paste it from a slide grin

TheCollieDog Fri 22-Feb-13 14:42:12

ooo creamteas, you put it so much more succinctly than I did!

creamteas Fri 22-Feb-13 12:46:35

I would echo the above.

For an entry grade post in sociology at a good (not just RG) shortlisted candidates will almost certainly have:

A track record of excellence as a student (eg Distinction at Masters)
Timely completion of a PhD (doesn't matter if full or part time)
A track record of gaining competitive funding (can be scholarships, travel grants but small research grants would be better)
A track record in dissemination (conferences plus at least 2 academic papers or a book)
Experience of teaching and preferably a teaching qualification and/or associate membership of the HEA
Evidence of a professional network (active participation in disciplinary group for us it would be the British Sociological Association)

In most cases, you would be unlikely to be able to achieve all this for at least 2-3 years post PhD.....

TheCollieDog Fri 22-Feb-13 10:58:45

Goodness! That's a huge question! I don't think the full/part-time issue would be a major concern when it comes to job-hunting & application, unless you went over the time given for completion at your institution.

The competitiveness of the field -- particularly in a big subject such as History -- is. I've been on selection panels for various History departments (I have a first degree in History among other things) and it's usual to receive up to a hundred applications for an entry-level Lecturer post.

It helps to keep what I'm going to say below in line with a notion of 'career-age' -- that is the equivalent full-time years clocked up as a post-graduate.

It helps if you have had AHRC/ESRC funding for your PhD -- this shows you are already outstanding in your field and career-age.

A PhD alone is not enough, but you will not get a job in a History department without a PhD in the current competitive climate. Well, certainly not at a decent university.

If you seriously want to work in academia, you will need to be mobile. It's not a matter of picking up a full-time job at your nearest "office." Seriously, some people think that's how universities work!

You will need to have your PhD, and without an over long period of candidature ie if it's part-time, then you'll need to complete within your institution's part-time registration period -- generally 6 years with an option of a period of 'writing up' when you receive little or no supervision, or an extension on application because of other factors (never ever take this for granted!).

You will need some HE teaching experience. A good department will try to offer some of its 2nd year PhD candidates hourly-paid teaching as GTAs, but this isn't universal, and sometimes the PhD candidates are just not suitable or not equipped for the teaching the Department needs. At my current institution, it is subject to satisfactory progress, and that progress must be maintained for us to employ them,. So you add a term-time teaching load to your research load.

You will need to demonstrate a trajectory of post-doc research: conference papers while a PhD candidate, publication of an essay or two, and a serious plan for your first monograph, if not a contract.

You should have serious, workable, peer-reviewable plans for grant or funding applications (for example, AHRC Early Career Fellowship, British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Leverhulme Early Career)

You will be competing against applicants for jobs who have their first book.

Post-PhD, you should expect nowadays to have to spend at least one year, if not two or even 3, doing short-term contracts, or hourly-paid teaching, or working as a Post-Doc Fellow on other people's research grants. During this time you would be expected to publish from your PhD. If you don't keep your hand in in these ways (teaching and research) you will not be competitive in the job market against 'fresh' PhDs with book contracts.

And these are the basic things now, only 6 months into the withdrawal of 80% of public funding for university teaching, and the consequent £9,000 fees regime. And 10 months away from REF 2014. Each year UK HEIs go into undiscovered territory, but the next 18 months will be more unknown unknowns than ever before.

I know there'll be other posters to say it's different at their place: these are general guidelines drawn from my working in 3 research-led universities (Russell Group).

This is why most good academics are workaholics: standards are extremely high and exacting, but we do it because we're all actually quite good at it, and we love it. This is also why £9,000 a year is a very cheap education.

Crummymum Thu 21-Feb-13 15:03:55

Thank you TheCollieDog.

The MA in History is, in fact, 120 for coursework, 60 for the dissertation. I just wouldn't be able to do an MA at a conventional university at the moment, given childcare/ time commitments; but ought to be able to do the PhD at a London college of London University by then because all the children will be in school! I suppose I'll have to do an MPhil first. A bit of a pain from a time/ cost point of view, but I understand the rationale.

May I ask, as your helpful answer has raised more questions(!), if I wanted to try to become a lecturer after that (I know they are very competitive), would it matter if I'd done the MA and/ or PhD full or part-time?

TheCollieDog Thu 21-Feb-13 13:53:04

Increasingly, universities see the Masters and PhD as necessarily connected (the way funders look at them). So make sure you do an MA which prepares you for completely independent research at a very high level, if you want to be accepted at one of the Bloomsbury colleges.

Masters degrees require 180 credit points, and how those CP are made up can differ from programme to programme. So if you're aiming ultimately for a PhD at a competitive research-intensive university/college, such s UofL, then you'd be best to look at an MA programme which puts the emphasis on preparation for independent research, and at least 120 cp of dissertation, rather than one which has a lot of coursework, and only a 60 cp dissertation. However, that may be difficult to do if you're returning after a longish gap in study. So you need to be very honest with yourself about what your current skills & abilities are, and realistic about the time is available

In my field (humanities) and in departments where I've worked (all research-intensive, Russell group, blah blah blah) if a PhD candidate had a course work Masters, they'd be enrolled for an MPhil in the first instance, with upgrade/transfer/conversion to PhD after 9-18 months (full-time or p-t equivalent) of satisfactory progress in the MPhil, which is without coursework. Upgrade/transfer is usually on the production of a decent draft of 10,000 to 20,000 words.

If you were applying to my place, I think we'd also want to know why you want to do a PhD and why with us. So if you think of a Masters and PhD as a continuous trajectory, that would probably help you think through all these things.

Crummymum Thu 21-Feb-13 13:23:17

Thanks so much creamteas. As I've not yet studied for the MA, I didn't think to ask the place(s) where I might do a PhD, but it makes perfect sense to think that far forwards and work backwards, as it were! Thank you for taking the trouble to respond. I'm feeling so excited about this new journey!

creamteas Thu 21-Feb-13 07:32:54

If you know where you want to study for your PhD ask them!

In my uni dept (social science) an OU MAs are perfectly acceptable,. Our decision whether or not to accept you for a PhD would be based on your grades (particularly your dissertation mark) and your PhD proposal.

Crummymum Wed 20-Feb-13 20:07:16

Well, I've said it all in the title! I would really like to do an MA. Have looked at my local uni but the hours don't tie in with my young family, some of whom are at school and some not! I'm hoping the OU MA will give me some flexibility but does anyone know whether or not other unis, probably ones in London as that's where I'm near, view the OU? I don't want to scupper my chances of a PhD at a London college of the Uni of London, if they don't like the OU for some reason. Any advice/ experience gratefully received! smile

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