PhD Questions

(12 Posts)
Jumpi Thu 02-Jan-20 15:45:09

I’ve wanted to do a PhD for some time now but have no idea on what the topic would be.

Do universities have anything like a list of topics they’d like students to perform their research on? Or perhaps collaborate on?

Also, would it be possible to find a tutoring position and then commit to doing a PhD? Is that a thing?

I have two masters and a professional qualification plus I’ve worked in the industry I’d like to research. I moved a long way away from my last university and don’t feel like I know anyone well enough to ask these questions to but I’m keen to get the ball rolling and finally commit to it.

OP’s posts: |
mousemousse Thu 02-Jan-20 15:49:39

In my field there can be pre-specified phds, often linked to larger projects, which are advertised out on

You can also apply with your own proposal but you're much more likely to succeed if you pick a topic that suits a potential supervisor and you make yourself known to them before just randomly sending in proposals.

bathorshower Thu 02-Jan-20 15:50:10

Would be good to say what kind of field - I could answer for natural sciences, but not humanities/arts.

Jumpi Thu 02-Jan-20 15:57:56

Thank you mouse, I’ll check that site out. I’ve looked at a few of the graduate pages on uni sites that suggest emailing a proposal and found it really intimidating. I wouldn’t know where to start.

Apologies, it would have been helpful of me to mention that my interest is law.

OP’s posts: |
mousemousse Thu 02-Jan-20 16:30:40

Will you be looking for funding? Because that's a whole different process too. Where I work you need to be accepted to do the PhD and then can apply for the various internal and external scholarships but it's a lot of work to even get a proposal good enough to submit to them. Self funding is a much easier process.

Jumpi Thu 02-Jan-20 17:12:33

Yes, unfortunately I won’t be in a position to self fund. There are quite a few offering funding covering fees and a stipend but most require you to come up with your own proposal, so I’ve already fallen at the first hurdle.

Is much emphasis placed on where you do your PhD? E.g. in the same way some universities are seen as more prestigious than others for certain undergraduate degrees (like law).

OP’s posts: |
alexdgr8 Thu 02-Jan-20 17:19:14

do you live near enough to London.
if so, I'd contact City University and ask them.
or better still go there, early, be prepared to wait/ come back, be v nice to departmental secretary and ask if there's any way you could have a quick chat with one of the academic staff.
might give you some pointers even if its a no go there. good luck.

MaybeDoctor Thu 02-Jan-20 20:32:32

I can help, because like you it took me ages to come to the point of actually having a proposal. I kept starting the process, not being ready for the research council deadlines, giving up again... I now have a place and hope to start in 2020.

Try this link:

I also found it helpful to apply for a pre-specified doctoral programme before applying for the one that I eventually got. I didn't get it, but going through the process was valuable in itself.

Remember, it doesn't have to be perfect! It is just the beginning of the conversation...

Also, get your transcripts, certificates and references lined up now - that can take far longer than you think.

YeOldeTrout Thu 02-Jan-20 21:07:15
Isn't getting a law degree in USA = doctorate of law?
Juris Doctor

impostersyndrome Sat 04-Jan-20 13:54:54

I’d strongly advise OP to first think through why you want to do a PhD. This will help you to determine next steps in the process. You should work out your area of interest, then narrow it down by reading the work of academics researching the topic to get a sense of what your research question might be. I’d also expect you to have an idea of what data you had in mind to analyse, and where to obtain it. And then, and only then, contact academics preferably one at a time, certainly not moreover than one in the same department, with an outline of your proposal.

If you’re going for a funded place, the above is still broadly relevant since the process is highly competitive.

impostersyndrome Sat 04-Jan-20 13:58:08

And don’t turn up to a department without an appointment if you want to give a good impression! Even if the academic is in they’re office, which is by far from likely, chances are they’re teaching, supervising, in a lab, in a meeting or whatever.

Dolorabelle Sun 05-Jan-20 16:49:26

Totally everything impostersyndrome says.

A PhD is too much like hard work for you not to want to do it above everything else. It is not just a longer Masters.

You need to have a research question, a research problem., and the understanding of your broad field which shows that no-one else has tried to answer this particular question.

At the moment, and judging just from what you've written here, I really don't think you're ready to take on a PhD.

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