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Frequently Asked Questions

The following questions are answered on this page (click on a link to jump to a question):


Who should apply?

The Centre welcomes applications from students who wish to investigate a topic that falls within the interests of at least one of our research groups:

  • Language Learning, Teaching and Assessment (LLTA)
  • Professional and Academic Discourse (PAD)
  • Working and Communicating across Cultures (WACC)

Successful applicants for the degree of MPhil/PhD will have a strong academic profile and will have completed a Masters degree in a relevant field, showing good aptitude for research. They will have a clear idea about the area in which they wish to conduct research, and will submit a convincing research proposal. They will often be aiming at an academic or professional career where they will continue to engage in research. Some applicants will be seeking to complete a doctorate because it is a necessary qualification for their career path. We try hard only to accept applications from those who are very enthusiastic about their proposed research! In addition, those wishing to pursue research in English Language Teaching with a strong pedagogic focus would normally be expected to have substantial relevant professional experience.

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Can I do a PhD part-time?

It is possible to register as a part-time PhD student in some circumstances. The period of part-time registration for PhD is 5-7 years. However, acceptance on this basis is less common, and applicants' personal and professional circumstances, academic profile and research experience will be taken into consideration when making the decision to offer or not offer the part-time PhD route. It may also be possible on occasion for students to combine periods of full-time and part-time registration in order to accommodate individual circumstances. However, we do not offer the possibility of completing a PhD by distance learning, and all part-time PhD students will be expected to spend a period of time each year on campus.

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Why are PhD students initially registered as MPhil students?

In keeping with normal practice at the University of Warwick, successful applicants for the degree of PhD are registered initially for ‘the degree of MPhil/ PhD’. Progress is reviewed regularly and the student transferred from MPhil to PhD registration during the course of study. Upgrading is not automatic but it is the expected and usual outcome for those accepted to work towards a PhD. Students who submit for an MPhil degree do so after 2 years of full time study and research, and write a thesis of 60000 words.

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How can I find a suitable supervisor?

There are two ways to go about this. One way is to study our Academic Staff pages to see if you can identify someone whose research interests and publications relate closely to your research topic. Of course, it is very possible that you already have someone in mind because you have read their work, met them at a conference, or indeed were a student of theirs in the past. In such cases, you may wish to write informally to this person to discuss your plans for doing a PhD, and they may invite you to send a research proposal. However, if you cannot identify a potential supervisor or are not sure exactly who to approach, the alternative way is for you to write to the PhD programme leader (Dr Stephanie Schnurr: s.schnurr@warwick.ac.uk) and send her your draft research proposal and CV. She can then follow things up and, if appropriate, pass on your inquiry to a potential supervisor. This second way is our preferred way of handling initial communications with prospective applicants, in order to ensure that you can be matched with a potential supervisor, and in order to avoid the confusion that can arise if prospective applicants write simultaneously to several members of staff in the Centre.

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What happens when I become a research student?

When you become a research student, you will be allocated a main supervisor and usually a second supervisor and will work under their guidance on your research project. You will also receive training in research methodology during your first year, and have the opportunity to attend modules on our Masters programmes that may be particularly relevant to your work. You will also become a member of the research student community at Warwick and have access to a range of academic, research and professional skills training opportunities provided centrally by the University. As a member of the research student community in the Centre, you will be affiliated with one or more of our research groups and participate actively in their programme of events and have the opportunity to present your research and gain feedback.

Your academic progress will be monitored by your supervisors and by termly meetings of the Graduate Progress Committee in the Centre, and during the course of your studies you will also present work-in-progress to review panels for evaluation and discussion. Full-time PhD students are expected to complete and submit their thesis at the end of their third year, though note that all full-time PhD students are registered for four years.

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