As with any significant undertaking, there are inherent challenges involved in undertaking a PhD, and some potential problems that can come up during one.
Not all PhD students will face these risks or challenges, but it’s important to be aware of them so that you can be prepared. Indeed, the biggest risk would be stumbling into any of these problems unawares!
The Careers Service are here to help you make the best decision for you. If you would like to speak to us about any of the areas for consideration we’ve listed below, get in touch!
1. Financial Management
Pursuing a PhD can be expensive. Research students need to pay for tuition, fees, and other expenses such as travel or registration fees for conferences, and whilst funding is available for these, this may not cover everything.
So, the risk of debt and financial stress is something to be aware of.
Deciding whether to pursue a PhD can be daunting for any student. A PhD is a significant commitment requiring substantial time and effort, but it can also be incredibly rewarding.
Here are some factors to consider when deciding if a PhD is right for you:
Motivation and passion
One of the most important factors to consider when deciding whether to pursue a PhD is your motivation and passion for the subject. A PhD is a research-focused degree based on a significant amount of independent work and dedication.
Without genuine interest and a deep sense of curiosity about the subject, it will be challenging to maintain the motivation required to complete a PhD.
As you will be dedicating several years of your life to researching and writing your thesis (the argument your research makes), it is crucial that you are passionate about it. Otherwise, you may struggle to see it through.
One of the benefits of postgraduate study is that it offers a high level of specialisation. While this is great, the amount of choice available can make it a little tricky to narrow down your options. Keep reading to learn about the different types of postgraduate study, how to research courses, and what to consider when narrowing down your options.
Remember, you don’t need to jump straight in to further study! Taking time out can benefit both your career and your wellbeing. You can use this time to reflect on what you enjoy on a day-to-day basis and on a larger scale, which can clarify what you want from your career. You can hear more about this from the perspective of a graduate in our blog post: ‘Graduate stories: Deferring my biology Master’s to stay in Bristol‘.
With most PhDs spanning 3 to 4 years, it is not a decision to take lightly.
For some students, their passion for research and a specific academic discipline is such that a PhD is an obvious choice as part of their career planning, however, for others it is just one possible option, prompting further questions.
Having an insight into what life is like as a post-graduate researcher is a crucial first step. Without any doubt, you will need to love learning, have a hunger for research, and be a self-starter happy to work for long periods independently. Advice from vitae.ac.uk is to be ‘really clear on your motivations for doing a doctorate, and that it [will be] a positive career step.’
Kayleigh Crouch is a Career Peer Support Adviser with the Careers Service, currently a PGR at the University of Bristol, and has shared her insights on what it’s like to be a doctoral researcher here:
Having explored whether postgraduate study is an option for you, and weighed up the pros and cons, you’re now ready to submit your application… but where do you start?!
We often meet students and graduates that find making a start to this process overwhelming. This blog gives you a checklist to inspire you to make a start and provide you with resources that can help you to complete your application.(more…)
The Bristol PLUS Award is the University’s employability Award, open to students across all years of study – including Postgraduate Researchers (PGRs). In fact, PGR achievers speak so highly of the Award process, we thought we’d share highlights from their feedback: (more…)
If you are a final year student and unsure whether further study is an option for you then take a few minutes to read on.
For some students, a postgraduate qualification is a necessary requirement for their chosen career role and in some sectors acknowledged as an advantage. For others, there is a genuine desire to continue within academia for the joy of learning either for more depth in their existing subject area or indeed a new one. This acquisition of ‘knowledge capital’ is no bad thing and even better if combined with the development of higher-level skills and work experience at the same time. (more…)
A personal statement is your chance to make a great first impression when applying for a postgraduate course. It provides a space for you to convince the admissions tutor(s) that you have the motivation, relevant knowledge and academic capability to successfully complete the course, and reflect well on the institution.
When writing your statement, always check whether the admissions team has written instructions on what to include and how much to write – and if they have then make sure you follow them! Often, however, you will be largely left to fill in the blank space yourself – and in that case we recommend you write about 500 words, which equates to approximately 1 A4 page.