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PhD English literature / non-UK applicant

User: PracticalCat - 10 January 2021 22:11

I'm considering applying to several UK universities for a PhD in English lit. (My project will likely concern British modernism & either new materialism or environmental criticism.)
Obviously, I'll also be applying for funding, both AHRC and scholarships awarded by the university. However, recently I've started wondering whether it even makes sense.
I'm from a country in Central Europe, where universities aren't particularly prestigious. I did my BA here, I'm doing my MA here also. I've always wanted to study in the UK, but I never have - for financial reasons.
Now, I know that I'm technically eligible for the funding I'm interested in, but I'm also aware that all funding is extremely competitive in the Arts and I fear that I won't stand a chance due to my educational background. I've heard from someone once that it's extremely difficult to secure funding in the UK with a Master's from a university outside the UK. I know that university prestige isn't the most crucial factor, but I'm still worried that my application will stand no chance compared to all of those candidates from Russel Group institutions & with references written by prominent scholars in the field.
So, I guess my question is, are my chances as slim as I think they are? If I did apply, it would be for 2022, but if I decided to do a PhD in my country I could start this year, so I'd rather know in advance if my chances are close to zero.
My BA grades are fine, by the way (equivalent of a First, I think), my MA results should be pretty good as well.
If anyone has any advice on what to do for my application to be more competitive, I'd appreciate that as well.

User: rewt - 14 January 2021 10:05

Sorry about the delay.

I know nothing about AHRC funding, so please take this with a pinch of salt. I wouldn't worry about the lack of references or prestige as they aren't a true indicator of performance. The prestige of your university means nothing compared with your grant proposal and many non-Russel group students get funding. If you are worried about references, you could possibly email and try to work with a UK academic to build a relationship/ reference. Also, in general you never know with grant applications, it all depends on who reads your proposal and do they like it. For all you know it could be a great proposal which will outweigh anything else, so there is no shame in applying anyway and getting rejected, there is always next year.


User: PracticalCat - 16 January 2021 12:53

Thank you very much for answering.
I might obtain a reference from a professor who taught several of the modules I attended while on an exchange in Wales. That was during my second year of undergrad though, so I'm not even sure she remembers me, not to mention that the work I did back then was, well, on an undergrad level.
As to AHRC in particular - from what I've read, they don't have access to applicants' personal details, such as the institution(s) where they studied or even transcripts, I think. However, to be considered by AHRC, an applicant must be nominated by the university first.
I'll certainly give it a try, especially that there are two universities (or, to be more exact, two supervisors) that would be perfect for the project I have in mind.

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