In the UK most PhD students are registered in the first instance for an MPhil degree, upgrading to full PhD status during their programme. Up to last year students in my department could upgrade any time after the first year. However, from this year all students have to upgrade at the end of the first year. So we were all given the date of upgrade and the documents we needed to submit. These included a document explaining your research, including your methodology, contribution to the field, background, as well as a chapter-by-chapter outline of your thesis, one of your best pieces of writing (I submitted a paper I am in the process of submitting), and the relevant sections of a research log book all UCL research students fill in at regular intervals. The last requirement was a presentation, which I had done a number of throughout the past year, including the monitoring meeting.
I realised about this requirement in August when we received an e-mail reminding us. Luckily I already had most of the research document done in bits and pieces during the year…the only thing I didn’t have was a chapter-by-chapter outline (hadn’t started thinking about THAT!). However, that was a pretty OK thing to do as I just got out the literature reviews I have been working on and put in their titles as sections and subsections, together with sections on forthcoming results and discussions. The next part, the piece of writing, I had quite a bit to choose from, and was in the process of writing the paper, so that was submitted.
All in all, working slowly over the weeks I got everything together. After a bit of rushing collecting papers from my two supervisors (one paper got lost somewhere in the internal mail system for around 4 days or so!), I had everything ready on Wednesday, and I submitted in preparation for Thursday (when I was involved in monitoring at St. Paul’s Cathedral).
Yesterday morning I received an e-mail from my supervisor telling me that I was approved for upgrade…YIPPEEE!…I am officially a PhD student now Now all’s that left is the tiny matter of getting the work done .