Initial contact with academics re. PhD

(5 Posts)
potentialphddd Fri 01-Nov-19 20:01:22

Hi all,

I am a current MA student in English literature having graduated with a First in my undergrad degree this summer (English). I've been approaching potential supervisors with a proposed topic and I have had (what I think is) good feedback so far. One lecturer asked me to put in a formal application on the basis of my initial email and has emailed me with details of who the co supervisor would be (I did include reasonable detail about my proposed project at this stage, my project has grown out of a piece of undergraduate work which I always felt had the potential to be bigger, so I do feel I know it fairly well). They are also keen to help me apply for a funding programme. Another three academics have asked to see a longer proposal which, if they are happy with they will also be keen to see a formal application.

I'm feeling tentatively positive but I just want to ask how good this is at this stage, as it seems like its going well to me, but I don't really know, if that makes sense? Just wondered if anyone knows how likely this is to 'come off' or end up being successful? I realise I won't be able to get an absolute answer but any advice or personal experiences would be welcome. Just trying not to get too excited but this is all I want to do!

OP’s posts: |
SarahAndQuack Fri 01-Nov-19 21:56:26

You're right that no one here can say, really.

I'm in English Lit and when have been involved in PhD applications, it has been quite standard to encourage all reasonably qualified applicants to seek funding and/or to work up applications to a developed stage. We might reject people who are obviously not qualified or who have no match with potential supervisors. But, after that, it would be fairly normal to encourage applicants. The fact that one university wants you as one of their candidates for funding sounds much more positive. Depending on the source of the funding, that might well indicate they're putting their weight behind you.

You really need the funding, btw. If you don't get funding, you need to think seriously about whether or not this is a good option (not just financially, but in terms of prestige, as gaining funding indicates you are a serious candidate).

I think it all sounds as if it's going well! Good luck.

impostersyndrome Sat 02-Nov-19 07:32:03

I agree with all the above. Just one other thing is don’t go too down the road with both applications. It can be supremely annoying to realise you’ve wasted hours of your time to assist a candidate only to find they’ve used your advice to apply elsewhere.

potentialphddd Sat 02-Nov-19 07:58:44

Thanks for your advice both. I was going to ask that actually imposter, at what point should I make a firm choice with one institution, if I am lucky enough to get to that point of course?

I now have an official application in at the first institution (big Scottish uni) but have been in contact with another very nice academic yesterday to whom I have sent a longer proposal. She has been very nice, sending me links to reading material that I may be interested in etc. Is this all ok at this stage? I am very wary of wasting people's time, but it is still very early days and I am honestly not sure how everything will work out at the moment.

OP’s posts: |
impostersyndrome Sat 02-Nov-19 10:54:13

In my opinion now is the time to say to the second prospective supervisor that you’ve put an application in, so you’ll understand if she’d rather pause the conversation at this stage.

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