People who decide to devote their lives to developing science and want to become Doctors of Philosophy belong to an exceptional group of those are going to make the future of humanity better. The task is far from being the easiest in the world. Consequently, the processes of getting admitted and obtaining this degree are also quite complicated. However, do not be afraid to take up this challenge. We will help you to face it and come out as a winner. Here is what you need to know to become a Ph.D. in the UK.
You are supposed to select a topic that has a great research potential and, of course, is interesting to you from a scientific point of view. Then, you will have to create a proposal that will demonstrate what you plan to do. However, it is very difficult to make a good choice even before the studies start. Few people know it, but fortunately, universities are aware of this complexity and do not require the applicants to write a dissertation on exactly the same topic that was submitted during the admission process. The initial proposal is needed to see whether you have an aptitude to be a researcher and can think like one. As a program begins, you will be able to change the topic or some aspects of it in order to ensure only the best outcome. Moreover, you will be able to discuss all the issues with your supervisor and only then submit a final proposal.
A supervisor will be assigned to you, or you will have a chance to choose one. This person is there to help advise, support, and criticize you if needed. Be sure to take a full advantage of this assistance. Meet your supervisor on a regular basis. Of course, you should discuss the frequency of visits with the professor assigned to you. It is likely that you have different approaches to work and need to reach an agreement first.
Usually, Ph.D. students are not demanded to attend additional classes or take extra-curricular courses. Nevertheless, it does not mean that they should not. To write a dissertation that is actually worth something, you need to offer a new and comprehensive perspective to a problem under discussion. It is only possible if you have the information about brand-new research and breakthroughs in the relevant sphere at your disposal. Therefore, you should attend pertinent lectures and seminars even if it requires taking a course in another department.
Even after you have been admitted to a university, you are not a Ph.D. student yet. You are on probation. The period of probation at the end of the first year of studies. At that point, the school decided whether you can or cannot be a fully registered Ph.D. student. The basis of such an assessment is a first-year report that is an essay, which provides an overview of the research to date. The length of the report differs from university to university, but it is, as a rule, up to 10,000 words. The paper is being checked by your supervisor and other faculty members. If it gets their approval, you will be fully admitted. In other words, the first year of studies may affect your entire career as a scholar. Thus, be extremely productive over this period.
Upon passing the first-year examination, many Ph.D. feel immense relief and lose the endurance to research and write. They are reluctant to start a new stage of the studying process. It is vital not to allow these feelings to become overwhelming and pull yourself together. You should overcome this phase quickly and not stop at what has already been achieved. Hence, try to stick to your research plan and devote five days a week, at least, to reading relevant literature, researching, and writing.
To complete a Ph.D. program successfully and earn the degree, you will have to demonstrate that you are well versed in the topic and possess expertise in the associated field. To be aware of all the novelties and breakthroughs in the field, you need to read the newest sources. For a scientist, such sources are journal articles. Read articles in a subway, during breakfast, in the bed before going to sleep or whenever it is convenient for you. Just be sure to do it as much as possible.
At the second year of studies, you are expected to have some findings that are worth sharing with other representatives of the academic world. To do it, you should attend conferences. It will be beneficial for you in many aspects. First, you will be able to probe yourself and your findings. Second, you will have a chance to receive feedback from the objective and impartial audience. Third, you will communicate with alike-minded people and build up your network of useful contacts. Finally, you will train to present your work in front of critical listeners, which is very useful considering the upcoming defense of the dissertation.
The time has come to unite the results of what you have been doing in one paper. Now, you should write your dissertation or thesis, depending on how it is referred to in your university. You need to tell what you did, what obstacles you had to overcome in the course of research, and what outcome you had reached. The length of this paper varies from school to school and depends on your department as well. Then, your supervisor, as well as an examiner from another university, will evaluate your thesis.
Following writing and grading, there is a stage of defending. In the UK, it is called VIVA. You will have to present your research in front of the audience consisting of people working in the same field as yours. You will be asked provocative questions about the subject matter and the associated field. At this point, you will be very glad that you have read all those books and journal articles since the defense results determine whether you get Ph.D. degree or not.
Students in the UK are not obliged to publish articles in the course of a Ph.D. program. However, your supervisor, as well as any other scholar, will reassure you that accomplishing something in the academic world is strongly connected with publishing in renown academic journals. Therefore, be sure to compile article(s) about your research and findings and present them to others. Publishing is your opportunity to become someone among scientists.