We know it takes some time getting into the swing of your PhD. Expectations and support vary from department to department and from supervisor to supervisor. PGS are trying to make this transition easier by gathering as much information as we can, so we can at least point you in the right direction. If there is something about the PhD process or about Strathclyde University that is confusing you, get in touch and we will try and answer it here. You won’t have been the first to experience it!
5 Top Tips when Starting your PhD
- Find your departmental administration office as soon as possible as this will be your first point of contract for handing in forms and asking department specific questions.
- Check out your department section of the Strathclyde website here you will find relevant information and a copy of your departmental handbook.
- Check out the postgraduate community section of the Strathclyde website for lots of useful information about postgraduate life at Strathclyde.
- Speak to other PhD and Postdocs in your department, they are the best people to ask about any issues you are having as a new PhD student as they have also been there before!
- Check out the PGS Facebook page, have a look at our events and come along to socialise with other like-minded PhD students.
There is also support from the Union. A good place to start is the advice hub but you can also email the Vice-President of Education whose job it is to lobby on your behalf to the university. Each faculty should also have at least one postgraduate representative who may be able to help with issues affecting your whole faculty. Contact details can be found on the Union’s website.
Credits – How many do you need and how do you get them?
It is now a requirement for PhD students to complete the Postgraduate Certificate alongside their research, which equates to 20 credits per year (60 across the PhD). The best place find information on the PG Cert is the Researcher Development Programme Website. For new students, the RDP have out together a guide giving you all the information you need to know.
Review: What? When? Why?
As part of your PhD you will have review meetings where you meet with your supervisors and discuss your progress. These vary between department but you should expect to complete at least 2 major annual reviews as well as smaller 6 monthly ones. The requirements also vary, but you may be required to write a report, give a presentation, have an informal discussion about your work or even a mini-viva. Usually these would cover what you have achieved since you started or since the last review, as well as your plans for the following year. As part of this review you should expect to have an external supervisor (someone in the department who does not supervise you) and unsatisfactory progress may lead to your removal from the PhD program. Remember, the review process is not just an assessment of your progress but is also a chance for you to raise any issues you have in your research and progress throughout your PhD.
Reviews should all be handled through the appropriate student administration system for your faculty – this is Neptune for Business, Engineering and HaSS, and Spider for Science. These systems will e-mail you when some action is expected, for example completing the review progress form. For more information, you should speak to your supervisor, or there is more information on the Faculty websites: Business, Engineering, HaSS and Science.
Some departments make teaching compulsory as part of your funding e.g. taking on a set amount of hours to fulfil your funding requirements but this is not always the case, as it is voluntary in other departments. If you do teach, it can be a good way to earn some extra money and if you want to stay in academia after your PhD it can be a great thing to put on your CV. Speak to your supervisor about opportunities for teaching, demonstrating or invigilating within your department to gain some extra skills.