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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:26 pm 
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Location: Birmingham
I know there are all sorts of experts on this forum, so I thought someone might be able to point me in the right direction (please? :D ):

I am trying to put together a research proposal for a PhD in Literature. I am hoping to apply for AHRC funding but I know it is very competitive and I only have another 2 weeks left to make the deadline. Does anyone have any idea about what would give an application the edge?

Is it just about the research question? Do they decide based on areas they value the most? Is it the academic record of the applicant?

I have tried searching the internet but just get basic information about the application process. Any help or advice on where to look for help would be appreciated. Sorry, I know it outside the usual remit of the section but you are all such friendly and helpful bunch :D (well, most of the time :wink: ) .......... so I know you won't leave me hanging with zero replies (hint, hint)

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:06 pm 
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Hi UmSusu

I am not in a position to give you the detailed advice you need for your AHRC application, but thought I would drop you a note to wish you luck and say that if I was in your situation I might contact my prospective research supervisor and ask them if they can give any guidance - or possibly they may already have some AHRC fellows in the department who would be prepared to help.

All the best with your studies.

J


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:26 am 
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Thank you Jeepers :D, I wasn't sure if I would get any replies.

I was a little reluctant to bother the prospective superviser but I think that is probably the best course of action. I will make contact today and see what I can find out. Somehow, I doubt that comparisons in medieval literature is going to be high priority for funding, but you never know :?

Thanks again, UmSusu

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 12:58 pm 
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Just to follow up: i have good news and bad news. The good news is that I have been given a date for an interview. The bad news is that it will be with three heads of different departments, all of whom are professors - does anyone know if this is normal policy?

I am finding the prospect of being faced with three profs in one room with each having questions for me, a very daunting prospect :? . Does anyone know what type of questions they might ask or whether this is a bad sign for the whole project?

UmSusu

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 1:19 pm 
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Is this a doctorate or post-doc? I am only down at masters level but it was clear that no funding would be available in education unless I wanted to do something my school wanted me to do and was prepared to pay for. I am working closely with a uni lecturer on her Ph.D - again in education - she doesn't get any funding either for that. I wish you luck- I sort of have the impression that apart from in Science, there is little money about - previous sources like the British Council pretty much restrict their funding to well known professors now I think.

Still, the interview is a good sign - I doubt they would wheel out 3 suits unless they were considering you seriously. I'm guessing they will probably want to know why you think you deserve their money, period. Good luck.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 3:47 pm 
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Hi Amber, thanks for the response.

It is for doctoral study. They already have transcripts of all my grades and detailed references, which is why I am worried about what it is I need to prove in the interview. I guess it is like you say and about preparing a good case supporting the project.

You are right, funding is difficult to come by outside the sciences but there is some available - only it is very competitive (needing undergrad 1st or maybe 2:1 and often Masters). I am pretty sure you can get funding sometimes for Masters, but usually if it is as part of plan to go on to a PhD.

In case you are interested for yourself, the ESRC is the main research council covering education. I understand you are a linguist? That is their territory too. You might want to look into it, if that is your route, but I think they changed the structure of grants so that universities that have a history of getting their funding are allocated a certain amount of money rather than through an open national competition - so some universities now completely miss out.

Well, at least I will be occupied now until the interview on the 27th, which will then only leave me 2 days to fret about DS's results - I just hope we don't both get our results on the same day!

Regards,
UmSusu

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:41 am 
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My area is science, not literature, and I don't know how much PhD recruitment differs in languages. When we interview for postgrad students we look for:

1)A real understanding that the degree will require a lot of independent work and self-motivation, and therefore that the prospective student has a genuine and deep interest in the field.
2)Evidence that the student knows their stuff. Some students can look very good on paper but appear to have forgotten everything they did in their first degree, or fail to answer basic questions in the interview. The opposite is also true - sometimes a weak-looking student on paper makes a better impression in person.
3)The reasons why the student wants to do a PhD, as ideally it should not be an end in itself.

In my field, it is quite unusual for a student to arrive with their own fully-fledged project proposal and, provided that the proposal looks sensible, it would be regarded as a plus point. This might be different in English.

I agree with Amber that the fact that they have organised three Profs to interview you is a good sign.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 9:37 am 
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Thanks Wurzel :D - I am sorry, I only just noticed your reply.

Your answer was very helpful and I suspect they will be looking for something similar in humanities. My proposal is quite specific but the supervisor has a particular interest in the area and seems very keen for it to go ahead.

I just have to make sure I don't fall apart in the interview now!

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:01 am 
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Hi Umsusu

Just a quick note to wish you luck on the 27th. Since I don't interview for PGR students I almost hesitate to add to Wurzel's excellent advice:
wurzel wrote:
real understanding that the degree will require a lot of independent work and self-motivation, and therefore that the prospective student has a genuine and deep interest in the field.


However someone, who was in a very good position to know, recently told me that students who come unstuck have often underestimated the volume of work required (not the level of study but the time it takes), so they always look for a realistic understanding of how much work is needed and whether the student has thought in detail about how they will approach this, and what problems they might face because of this/ how they will overcome them.

All the best.

J


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 8:01 pm 
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Just wanted to post a quick thank you to both Jeepers and Wurzel for your best wishes and excellent advice. As it happened, these areas are precisely what they covered right from the beginning of the interview and I am glad that I was prepared to answer them. It started everything off on a good footing :D .

I am pleased to say that they confirmed they would recommend that I am offered a place to admissions and that I should get confirmation in writing soon.

What a good start to the week - I hope it is good sign for 1st March too!

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