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Jonathan Phillips & Anna Whitelock - Applicants

Last Updated:

30th May 2013

Anna Whitelock: For master students, we generally look for a good undergraduate degree; which generally is a 2.1 or higher. However, there are, on occasions exceptions. For example, mature students who are returners to study. We also understand that they may not come from the traditional route, and therefore, are kind of flexible in our understanding and interpretation of the skills that they come with and the range of inner life experience and work experience. We do work for our courses both full time and part time. Therefore, students who have to work, have families, and so on, we try and arrange our courses around that. So, a good 2.1 and also an appetite for learning, not just somebody who wants a year where they don't have to be applying for a job, somebody who has actively chosen to do a master's degree, and is realistic about what that means. It's a step up from undergraduate study, which hopefully is something that the students relish.

It's also very intensive. It's a qualification that is done in a year, and you end up with a master's degree. So, I think students need to be realistic, they need to be enthusiastic, and they need to be well qualified. We are rigorous in our selection process. We're understandingly flexible, as I say, for mature students and returners, but we do expect the best students, and that's for the good of everybody.

Johnathan Phillips: Our student body is also a nice mixture of our own students who are carrying on going through to a fourth year of study, and then students from a range of different universities in the UK and from overseas. I think it's that mixture of new blood coming in from outside, as well as our own students that makes an exciting blend to teach. What we look for in a PhD applicant is a number of things. First, what's going to be passion for your subject. In terms of qualifications, we want a strong master's degree, preferably a distinction and then, the most important thing of all is an idea that you have worked through. You're going to talk about this with your potential supervisor, you will evolve it and polish it. You have to come with a strong idea of what you want to conduct your research in. One further thing we look for in our research students is the preparedness to get involved in the research community. We have all the resources, for example, the Institute of Historical Research, on our doorstep in central London. We encourage our people, and they really have to be prepared to engage with that, and to communicate with their academic peers.

Anna: Therefore students have lots of opportunities to give seminar papers, and therefore, will be, very much academics in training, right from the beginning. Not just writing and researching, but also arguing and delivering papers, and getting feedback, not just from their supervisors, but from their peers, and from other colleagues in the University of London. So, it very much the kind of collaborative experience of study here, which again, I think, is one of our strengths.

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