The PhD usually came after the Bachelor’s degree for many years in the United Kingdom. There was no real need to successfully gain a Master’s degree before embarking on this mammoth task of empirical research. Whilst some undergraduate degrees still lead to a Master’s qualification, and many people still complete Master degrees, it is possible to do a PhD without a Masters degree.
Firstly, your creative ideas are novel which allows for innovative, fresh approaches, in addition to exerted interest and enthusiasm for an area of study. Secondly, a Master’s degree can be quite expensive and although there are bursaries and schemes available they often still require costly personal financial contributions. Thirdly, pursuing a PhD without a Master’s degree reduces the amount of time on your studies, allowing you to follow a desired career path that motivates and excites you.
The Master’s degree exists to show that the student can study at a higher level and this qualification allows you to practice the necessary research skills. This also determines if committing to a large research project is right for you. Additionally, the Master’s dissertation forms a part of the PhD in several British universities, so you are potentially gaining one to two extra years to make your original contribution to the field of study.
As with any PhD application, it is important to check your eligibility with the universities you have chosen to apply to. Different institutions have varying regulations, and in some cases, a Master’s degree might be compulsory. Also, make sure you have lots of evidence in your application about why you would make a good doctoral student by presenting concrete examples of your work at the equivalent of Master’s degree level. Additionally, be clear that you are motivated and determined to add to a body of knowledge through innovative, empirical research that requires stamina, hard work, determination and collaboration.
The first few months can be overwhelming, but it is important to remember that you have been accepted as a doctoral student. This confirms that a panel of experts believe that you can achieve such a prestigious degree.
In your first term try and reread your research proposal once a week and review it critically. The nature of research is that it changes but it is also useful to remember what you proposed to do. Critical thinking is essential throughout the process.
Avail of the PhD support within the university. Regularly meet with supervisors and other doctoral researchers as support is necessary during this journey, especially in year one. Sign up to university workshops about PhD research – many run one-day skills sessions covering everything from communication to project managing. As a PhD student, you are part of a community of other doctoral researchers and this can be a great source of advice and wisdom, plus a great way of meeting new people.
In your first term, you should have regular and consistent supervision meetings. This allows your research team to set clear time goals and confirm milestones which you can work towards.
And remember, with consistent hard work, dedication, determination, collaboration and a critical mind, you will achieve your PhD.
For more information about PhDs see:
- What Can You Do With a PhD?
- What is a PhD and Why Should YOU do one?
- PhD Application Tips
- PhD Funding – A Checklist of Possible Sources