English literature PhD

(11 Posts)
Singyourheartout Sun 11-Jun-17 13:20:57

Interested in doing a PhD in English literature, can anyone tell me about their experiences and cost and time during it? Did you work, how much savings did you need. I believe I might be able to do a study ship with the university I attend and get funding from the government which would be 25000 for three years to cover tuition and such. Does anyone know anything about this?
I will be working during my PhD but I'm looking for what hours people could cope with.

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LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 11-Jun-17 13:30:12


I did mine starting in 2009. It was funded, so I got roughly the equivalent of minimum wage (it's less money, but you don't pay taxes). I also earned some money doing some teaching once I'd passed my upgrade (the formal review where they change your status from provisional PhD candidate to definite PhD candidate).

I'm sorry, I don't know about the government funding. If you can get that per year, it sounds amazing! If it's to cover the whole time, it doesn't look so brilliant and there might be better things out there.

I think whether or not you can work much around a PhD depends on what you plan to do with the PhD. If you're just doing it to get the actual degree, you should have time. And you will have very flexible hours - maybe not initially (some universities expect you to attend some training early on), but certainly later on. But, if you want to go into (say) academia, you will need to do other things, like publishing and going to conferences, so you will have less time. Annoyingly, you'll also need more money, as sometimes you can get conference funding, but sometimes you can't!

It also depends on whether you have to finish within a time limit. If you have to finish in 3 years (fast), I doubt you could really do much work unless you're superwoman. If you're finishing in 4 years (slower; usually the last year in unfunded, but most people do seem to take 4 years), you could probably do a bit more.

Happy to post more if you want - I'm just not sure what's most useful.

Singyourheartout Sun 11-Jun-17 13:45:29

LRDtheFeministDragon You are a star! I would ideally like to go into research or academia. Did you go down that route?
I have a year before I can apply but will also be studying my master so I'm hoping I can work and save then.

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Singyourheartout Sun 11-Jun-17 13:46:42

Anything you can tell me would be helpful! Did you have to go to lessons over your period of studying?

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LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 11-Jun-17 14:01:33

No trouble! smile

I'm an early career researcher, which is a posh way of saying that at the moment I'm not in a permanent job. grin I've had two years postdoc and I'm starting a third year in a new place. This is normal, btw - you wouldn't expect to get a permanent job fresh out of the PhD, and a lot of people find you end up really struggling financially for quite a bit. I was lucky in that my last job paid a decent wage (slightly less than a lecturer but not much), but you can end up on minimum wage or less quite easily.

However, I am a terrible example of what to do during your PhD, as the golden rule is that you must publish, and I didn't! You really should, though. And I did spend ages doing voluntary training in teaching, which I think helped get me my first job, and doing conference papers.

I did go to some classes during my PhD - for me, because I'm a medievalist, I wanted to brush up on my Latin. You might do classes on whatever languages are relevant to your period of study, too. Or you might not. You can do a PhD without doing any extra classes. It's just some subjects and some universities are keener on it all.

Singyourheartout Sun 11-Jun-17 14:11:35

I already have one conference under my belt and looking to do more later on now you said they help!
The whole struggle about finding work really makes me worry if it's worth it! But it's something I really want to do.
Another question is did you do your master (assuming your did one) in a similar subject area. I've spoke to a few of my lectures and some say it's best and others say to study broadly. Which is confusing haha hmmgrin

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LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 11-Jun-17 14:58:47

I think it's unusual not to do your MA in a similar period, but not necessarily the same subject. I'm medieval MSt/Medieval Studies PhD. But I do know a small number of people who switched, and an even smaller number who switched post-PhD.

The work stuff is pretty horrible. But if you want to do the PhD, have funding, and have a good back-up plan, it's not so scary. There are lots of other things you can do with an English Lit PhD and I know loads of people who initially wanted to go into academia but ended up doing something else, and who're very happy with the whole experience.


allegretto Sun 11-Jun-17 15:06:56

I did my phd part-time while working pt. I didn't publish anything! I also had twins while studying though which was wonderful but slowed me down a lot. Otherwise I would obviously be a world famous, award winning academic by now.wink

Singyourheartout Sun 11-Jun-17 15:50:56

What do you mean by back up plan LRDtheFeministDragon?

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LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 11-Jun-17 19:33:02

Blimey, allegretto. Having one singleton baby post-PhD, I am in awe of you!

sing - I mean, things you'd do other than academia. Friends have gone into a variety of jobs, but common ones are university development work (stable money, surprisingly fun, good if you have an organised mind), para-academic fields like librarians (though you often need to convert as academic librarians have extra training) or tutors, or publishing. I also know people who've ended up working at places like Shakespeare's Globe or English Heritage.

Obviously, you could do a PhD and then do something completely unrelated, and people do. But I think it's comforting (and practical) to go through it with alternatives in mind. So, for example, a friend of mine hedged her bets by doing an internship with an academic publisher towards the end of her PhD. It would not have been bad for her academic CV - as it would have shown she understood how publishing worked - but in the event, she ended up making it her career, and of course, for the publishers, the fact she has subject-specific knowledge is important.

That's the sort of back-up you want, ideally.

LooseAtTheSeams Tue 13-Jun-17 08:39:19

Hi OP, I did this, self-funded and it took about 4 years - I only know one person who managed it in 3! I can thoroughly recommend it from an intellectual perspective but just be aware the job market at the moment is dire. You need to publish a book so have this in mind as you work!
I've published book chapters but still need to get my act together! Lots of new PhDs either look for a completely different job or work in a related field. I teach in FE and on outreach placements, which I enjoy but it's not a lot of money (taking on GCSE exam marking as well!) some friends work in libraries, museums and university admin.

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