PhD stands for Philosophiae Doctor or Doctor of Philosophy, and it is a postgraduate degree completed by a sustained period of research and the production of a thesis. The PhD is the highest university degree available and nominally takes three to four years of full-time study. A traditional PhD is almost entirely focused on the research project itself. Although traditional PhD programmes include seminars addressing the research process, the provision is informal and vary between institutions and disciplines. If you are looking for more formal training in research methodology then you might want to consider the four-year, New Route PhD. Unlike traditional PhD programmes, the New Route PhD will give you an individually designed structured research programme and explicit training in conducting your own research study.
To be accepted on to a PhD course, you need to obtain at least an upper-second class (2:1) undergraduate degree or equivalent. While you can go straight from an undergraduate degree to a PhD, there is quite a large gap between the demands of doctoral research and those of undergraduate study. Completing a Master’s degree can help to bridge this gap, and this is a route that many doctoral students take.
As a PhD student you will be required to produce an original thesis that contributes to the existing knowledge base. Although working independently, you will usually have two academic supervisors to guide you. The relationship you have with your supervisors can be crucial to your PhD experience, but the ultimate responsibility for completing this long, arduous, and sometimes lonely journey lies with you. Stamina and the will to continue are as important as any basic academic ability, but the satisfaction of successfully completing your PhD will make it all worthwhile.