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Will I get funding for my Master/PhD?

Our experience shows that by far this is the most important question on student minds and the main reason they reject the idea of a UK postgraduate (post grad) degree. If you are a postgraduate student and think that without substantial funds you have no chance to go to the UK, please read on and do not give up. Twenty five percent of postgraduates studying in England are Chinese. That's a wonderful achievement and heritage and demonstrates that a significant number of Chinese have been able to obtain funding and enhance their career. We all know that competition in China is extremely high and whether through parental pressure or otherwise, most graduates are taking 2nd and 3rd degrees just to gain an advantage.

For those Postgraduates who think that a UK education or research opportunity is impossible, we wish to show you that sometimes it is not beyond your grasp. Not only are scholarships available to post grads but some colleges even will pay you during your research so then you have more than enough money to meet living costs as well.

There are also Government grants available and some companies can be approached to be your Financial Sponsor. Studentships may be possible too. These are funded opportunities focused on specific subject areas or research projects, so it’s worth looking to see if there are any that are suited to your line of study. Studentships are normally advertised on university department websites as and when they come up, so it’s important to keep a constant eye out for them. However, if you don’t want to trawl through scores of university websites every day there are a number of different places where they are advertised and then there is our service of course.

Finally, there are charitable organisations that offer funding in the right circumstances.

Here is just a sample
  • The Wellcome Trust
  • Cancer Research UK
  • The British Academy
  • The British Federation of Women Graduates
  • The Institution of Civil Engineers
  • Institution of Engineering & Technology
  • Institution of Mechanical Engineers
  • Royal Geographical Society
  • Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland
  • Leverhulme Trust
  • Action Medical Research
  • The Grundy Educational Trust.
So let us list summarize some sources of funds besides your family:-
  • University scholarships
  • Clarendon Fund for graduate scholarship schemes at the University of Oxford
  • China Scholarship Council (CSC)
  • British Chevening Scholarships. Funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office this is the UK Government's global scholarship programme.
  • Departmental studentships
  • International Federation of University Women - Fellowships and grants for postgraduate research, study and training for women. Sorry chaps!
  • Paid Research
  • Financial corporate sponsors

The question you have to ask yourself is whether it is worth our fee, applying to UK Universities, gaining a place and searching for the elusive funding. What have you got to loose? Some time, a small cost. Against that you may succeed and enhance your career beyond measure.

Equally if your heart is set on a UK Master/PhD then you have to help yourself to maximise your chances. You have to commit to set aside time to review University courses, the supervisors and professors. Establish relationships in the research groups you are applying to. There is no substitute to thorough research about the University, its departments and staff before you contact the University. There is, as we often say, "no gain without pain", so be prepared to persevere.

If you are still unsure why not speak to us informally, confidentially and without commitment. We are just a phone call or email away. Please see our contact page for details.

When you are ready to use our services just let us know. For students about to embark on their PhD, we urge you to think about preparing your research proposal paper as early on in the process as possible.

Notwithstanding the above, you should know that there are two costs to consider. The tuition costs and the living expenses. City University London sets its budget for postgraduate students at £223-£423 per week, with the difference between the lower and upper end depending on choice of accommodation and how far you have to travel. The University of Manchester estimates a postgraduate student on a full-time course will spend around £200 per week on living costs. Compare this to a postgraduate student at the University of Stirling in Scotland, who will pay out just £140-£145 during an average week.

What's the difference between a taught course and a research degree?

This choice can depend on which subject you wish to study or which career path you want to pursue. The main differences between a taught course and a research degree are:

  • taught courses are led by a tutor, and students attend weekly seminars and lectures. There is also some emphasis on independent learning but not as much as on a research degree. The two main types of taught courses are Master's degrees. These are divided into modules like undergraduate degrees and usually take one year full-time or two years part-time to complete, with students assessed via exam or dissertation;

  • research degrees rely on independent study with support a few hours a week from an academic. The best known research degree is the PhD, which can last three to four years full-time or six years part-time. Students are asked to present new knowledge in a research project or thesis, typically 40,000 words or more.

We detail down below a list of research postgraduate degrees.

  • ArtsD or D.Arts - Doctor of Arts
  • DAppEdPsy - Doctor of Applied Educational Psychology
  • DAppPsych - Doctor of Applied Psychology
  • DASS - Doctor of Applied Social Science
  • DBA - Doctor of Business Administration
  • DBM – Doctor of Business and Management
  • DClin Doctor of Clinical Psychology
  • DClinDent – Doctor of Clinical Dentistry
  • DClinPsy - Doctor of Clinical Psychology
  • EdD - Doctor of Education
  • EngD - Doctor of Engineering
  • DHealth - Doctor of Health
  • DHealthPsy - Doctor of Health Psychology
  • DHSci - Doctor of Health Sciences
  • DJourn - Doctor of Journalism
  • DM or MD - Doctor of Medicine
  • DMus - Doctor of Music
  • AMusD - Doctor of Musical Arts
  • DMA - Doctor of Musical Arts
  • NurseD - Doctor of Nursing
  • PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
  • DPP - Doctor of Professional Practice
  • DrPS - Doctor of Professional Studies
  • DPSD - Doctor of Practice and Services Development
  • DHSC – Doctor of Health and Social Care
  • DPsych - Doctor of Psychology
  • DrPH - Doctor of Public Health
  • DPM - Doctor of Public Management
  • DPP - Doctor of Public Policy
  • DSc - Doctor of Science
  • DSW – Doctor of Social Work
  • DVM - Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
  • DVS - Doctor of Veterinary Surgery
  • DocEuro - European Doctorate
  • DForenPsy - Professional Doctorate in Forensic Psychology
Research Masters Degrees

  • MSc(Res) - Master of Science by Research
  • MMA - Master of Musical Arts
  • MRes - Master of Research
  • MPhil - Master of Philosophy
  • MLitt - Master of Letters
Now we list the taught Masters Degrees.
  • Master of Arts (MA)
  • Master of Science (MSc)
  • Master of Education (MEd)
  • Master of Engineering (MEng)
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Master of Music (MMus)
  • Master of Research (MRes)

We wish to stress the difference between "Master of " and "Master by.."; a 'Master by research' degree which is distinct from an MRes, and allows you to focus on a particular topic in depth and independently. You will be expected to work on a thesis title, using research techniques to develop a single large project, whether practical or a dissertation. This is often seen as an appropriate precursor to a PhD.

How long does it take to apply for a PhD?

PhD funding and opportunities occur all the time. Deadlines might be as short as 3 weeks and as long as 3 months.Naturally competition for sought after funded places is high. Be prepared to make multiple applications for different PhD's or at different Universities.

How do I write a research proposal?

Well the starting place is to review the University website and see the guidelines which are likely to be set. Check with us and we will speak to the University to make sure. If we can obtain some past examples we will.

Do I need to visit the University before applying?

Of course if you can and have the opportunity then you should. But in view of the cost and distance, and well developed University websites, it is not essential. Once you locate your potential supervisors(s)/tutors, a Skype call may be possible. Do not assume that people outside of China have QQ please. So be prepared, install Skype, set up an account. Ask to speak with research students as this may help to get a better understanding of the experience. For both Cambridge and Oxford you should seriously attempt to attend for interview rather than relying upon Skype and this is particularly the case for certain subjects like Maths where explanations of methodology that you might adopt are best explained in person. You will only need an ordinary visitors visa for that trip.

Whether you are considering a Master or PhD is research life for a further 3 or so years what you really want and are prepared for?

During your undergraduate studies, or even for your Master degree you may already have some idea of whether you are suited to research degree. Please bear in mind that in UK universities you are expected to be more independent than in those in China. So do not expect "hand holding", you may be on your own. Again talking to potential supervisors and existing students about the realities of University life will help you understand more about what is required.

Besides independence you will need commitment and an eye for detail; a willingness to learn; Aspiration and passion for your subject.

What else do I need to do?

You will need an academic curriculum Vitae (CV) sometimes called a Resume. Provide a detailed subject break down of your undergraduate and postgraduate if any) degrees so far. Include any relevant experience relating to your next intended degree. Are there academic or professional societies that you should be joining?

Prepare academic staff to provide you with references. Make sure they know you well enough to provide more than just comment on your performance in a particular subject. Will they say you are hard working, committed etc.? Are the referees well known in their professional field?

Prepare yourself for interview. We can help you, tell you what to expect, how to behave and how to best present yourself. However, you need to identify potential tutors. So you have to research tutors that have an interest in your research field. Locate potential tutors. Download say 2 of their papers, read them thoroughly and identify the problem and draw out the hypothesis. Once you are ready you can contact them by email, and once positive communication is established make sure you continue to maintain contact.

Finally, we should mention English language skills. It is very important that you are equipped to handle post graduate level research and lectures in English. Each University will have its own requirements and you should visit our Universities page or our Links page to get website details or links to each University. Suffice here to say that you should generally aim for the highest possible score in your English exams. For example, aim for 7.5 in The International English Language Testing System (hereinafter IELTS) but you need probably a minimum of 6.5 for most but not all universities. Some courses will accept a score of 6. Again when we work for you we will ensure you are fully aware of the requirements for your selected course and university.

IELTS is not essential in that there are other recognised English tests. Nevertheless, for various reasons we always recommend that you take the IELTS unless there are particular reasons that you prefer an alternative. The IELTS is the most trusted by British Universities as well as being one of the most recognised exams across the world. There are two versions of IELTS; Academic and General Training. The latter is mostly used for immigration purposes. The test takes about 2hrs 45min split into sections Listening (30 minutes), Reading (60 minutes), Writing (60 minutes) and Oral 12 minutes.

We are often asked as to when it is best to take the IELTS, i.e. before applying for the course or after a conditional offer of placement? There is no right answer, it depends on your ability and commitment. Our recommendation is to take the exam as early as possible and to get this exam out of the way so you have more time to concentrate on the actual application procedures. It will also help you to determine if certain course are thereby excluded from your ability or if you need to re-take the test in order to gain a higher result. But the test only has a validity for 2 years, so do not take it earlier than say 18 months prior to your intended entry into the UK which will be no more than one month before the Course starts. The IELTS will serve to satisfy both the University entrance requirements as well as the Visa requirements. Please see our Visa page for more details about visa requirements.

Is Research the life you want for the next 3 years or more?

Success in an undergraduate or master's project can give you some idea of whether research would suit you in the long term. Talking to both staff and current PhD students, especially about the realities of daily life as a doctoral student will help you understand more about what is required before you apply. Master and PhD's are not suited to all students.

UK University Application Services.... Helping Chinese students gain placement


Whatever point you are in your education, whether still in Senior High School or already a Bachelor or Masters Degree graduate, our impartial professional consultancy will enable you to make that right choice. An exploratory discussion about our services can be mutually arranged in English or Chinese and obviously is without cost. Please contact us as shown below or see our Contact Us  page for enquiry and contact forms.

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