In the UK a PhD involves a 3-year research project. You register first for an MPhil, then you have an upgrading to PhD meeting after about 1½ to 2 years. You have one, sometimes two, supervisors, plus a small Thesis Advisory Group. Some UK doctorates have adopted the USA pattern of a taught course plus a shorter thesis; these are mostly called EdDs not PhDs. York does not at the moment offer an EdD in Education.
No. You can register and start at any time of year at York and most other UK universities. You may, however, find that you need to attend certain training courses, or that campus accommodation has a deadline, so read the PhD documentation carefully.
Basically, you can apply at any time during the academic year. If you want to start in October, then you might want to apply in January/February, but there is no deadline. Please do not apply in mid or late September for an October start, though, as we often need time to think about and process applications.
Yes. There are government funded ORS grants, university scholarships and sometimes department scholarships. All have deadlines and all are highly competitive. Look at Scholarships for further details on funding opportunities.
Yours. Occasionally, researchers advertise PhD studentships to investigate specific topics, but these are rare. In 99% of cases, you have to find a topic.
Yes. And you can reference your MA dissertation in your PhD thesis, just like any journal article or book. HOWEVER, the MPhil/PhD must be a genuine development with fresh data; you cannot submit the same data or the same words for two degrees.
Yes: we cannot accept you unless you submit an application form and a research proposal. Your proposal is a key part of your application; the better it is, the more likely you are to be accepted and the better your research will be. Although you will continue to develop it and work on it for several months after you start the PhD, you still need to prepare a good proposal at the application stage.
Most proposals are about 1,500 words in length. Format it like an MA assignment: word processed, double spaced on A4, a footer with your name and the page number, subheadings in bold, all references in a consistent style. Make certain that your English is accurate. Remember, your proposal is your major vehicle for demonstrating to us or other universities that you are intelligent, can think in a research-oriented way, are able to read critically and are likely to complete a thesis successfully in 3-4 years.
The proposal should address seven questions that we (or any reader) will ask:
Our questions Your answers What do you want to research?
- A working title
- A general topic area
- A general research aim/question
- Is there a serious problem or gap?
- Why is there a problem/gap? Has there been no research?
- What benefit would an answer bring?
- How does the problem relate to theories (of education, language or psychology)?
What are your research questions?
- One or more answerable research questions.
What aspects are new, different, innovative?
- Give a short literature review, with proper references
- Do not give an overview of the field; rather, make each point relevant to your research project
How do you plan to carry it out?
- Give a research design
- Give a brief 'Proposed Methods' section
- NB. For a three-year study, you are likely to need more than just a questionnaire survey
How will you plan your time?
- Give an outline timetable of the work
Can you do it?
- Indicate that you already have experience in key areas
- State where you think you will need training
- Show that you have access to, and really can collect, the data
Yes. A PhD is exciting work, but it is also hard work. You have to work independently and you have to read difficult books and articles, as you have to be able to work seriously with the details of theories and research methods. Your MA/MSc assignment grades are one piece of hard evidence, as is your dissertation grade. Grades are by no means everything, but you do need to show us that you have learned during your previous degrees to cope reasonably easily with high-level academic work.
Yes. A normal UK PhD is about 80,000 words long; about four to six times the length of a Masters dissertation. It is also on open access internationally. All the chapters have to be very detailed, closely argued and cross-referenced. The thesis therefore needs to be in good and correct English. It will be hard to write even if English is your first language. If English is a second language, you need to show us when you apply that you can write academic texts in reasonable English, and your English level will be one of the criteria we use to make a decision on whether to accept you.
Two people who have known you in different ways. Assuming you have an MA, one should be your supervisor, or a module tutor who is familiar with your assessed written work. If you have worked in education, commerce or industry, then the other could be an employer. The aim of the second referee should be to tell us how reliable, hard-working, honest you are, plus whether you have the drive to work independently.