It's official... I am now a proper PhD student!
In most PhD programmes, your first year is essentially a probationary period. I can't tell you anything other than what happened in mine, but I reckon it'll be pretty close to most insitutions in the UK at least. So, let me explain what I mean by my conversion.
When you enroll as a PhD student, there are certain conditions you need to meet in your first year. I'm sure there will be certain discipline-specific criteria, but as a psychology PhD student I was required to do five things:
- Complete relevant training modules
- Complete a written piece of work
- Present to the School about my first year
- Earn a recommendation from my supervisor to continue as a PhD student
- Earn satisfactory reports from TMC to continue
Let's go through these one by one. First - completing relevant training modules. This is only for students who haven't completed a Masters prior to beginning their PhD, and I fell into that category. To fulfil this criteria, I completed three MSc modules - Research Foundations, Advanced Qualitative Research Methods and Advanced Quantitative Research Methods. I only did assessments for the last two, which I passed quite happily!
My written piece of work was of course my literature review. I wrote a series of posts on this, which I'll soon make available on a Popular Posts page. I'd initially planned to do a study report, but when my pilot went all wrong, I had to change tactics. In fact, the lit. review ended up being really beneficial to me, and gave me a lot more confidence that I knew my stuff when I went to take on my presentation.
It was just last Tuesday that I presented to the School. It was a very, very nerve-wracking experience! I think partly because this was the first time I'd had to stand up and not only explain what I'd been doing for a year, but also what I was planning to do in the next 6-12 months and defend it too. It was really the last stop where someone might say "Ok, that was rubbish, go home." Thankfully they didn't. I got a lot of really nice feedback about my presentation and I'm happy with how it went.
As for the recommendations, these came without too much difficulty. It was important to submit reports to my Thesis Monitoring Committee (TMC) on time and make sure I kept my supervisor up to date with what was going on.
So what does all this mean for me? Well, if I hadn't completed my conversion, it might have been recommended I completed an MPhil instead of a PhD. Thankfully, I now get to go on to the second and third year of my PhD. Essentially, the School has decided their odds are pretty good of me completing (and passing) my thesis.
The big hurdle is over and now I get to celebrate. Of course, I celebrate in a PhD way, which means testing and the occassional bout of colouring in! Nevertheless, I'm sure we'll manage a meal or drinks once all of us are finished. Either way, I'm now officially on the road to a full PhD and I couldn't be happier!