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The Process of Undertaking a PhD

It is inevitably a daunting prospect to embark on a new project, especially where you stand to be judged on your performance, and undertaking a PhD is no exception. This is where advice can help and there is a voluminous amount available. For instance, a Google search for “the PhD process” returned over 78 million hits! In this, and subsequent articles, I will distil information and advice on pursuing a PhD to make the process more accessible. I start here with a short overview of the process.

If you are sure that studying for a PhD is the right thing to do, the first step is to make informal contact with your prospective supervisor and source any funding opportunities before submitting the application form (Applying to do a PhD). Once you are accepted and start the research, you will have regular meetings with your supervisor, who should help you develop a working timetable for your research. Then begins the process of reading, researching and writing.

The first major hurdle of your PhD is the upgrade (PhDs and the upgrade process), which generally happens after 9-18 months, depending on the University. You will be assessed on the basis of your upgrade report and, if successful, you will upgrade from an MPhil to a PhD student. By now your research should be well underway. At this point it is worth reviewing your working timetable to ensure you can complete the substantive research within the three year period normally allowed, which would then allow you to finish writing up your thesis in the fourth year. In the next step, you and your supervisor will agree on an external examiner and a date for submission.

The final stage is to submit your thesis, which will be assessed by both an internal and external examiner. You will then be scheduled for a mutually convenient viva (The PhD viva), which provides you the opportunity to further explain your thesis and its methodology. At the end of the viva process you will be told of the outcome. Hopefully you will pass with no more than minor amendments and you can embark on, or continue with, your chosen career. If you need any help during any of these stages in the process, please feel free to contact the PhD Consultancy.

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