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Dropping out of my PhD and reapplying elsewhere

User: Englishlit92 - 01 February 2018 15:23

I'm really in need of some advice.

I'm currently in the transfer process of my PhD (where I need to submit a report to officially transfer from MPhil to PhD). However, due to numerous issues, I have attempted to pass this several times but was unsuccessful, being told it wasn't PhD ready . Because of these set backs, I've now been put on probation where, if I am unsuccessful again, means I will be removed from the course. Due to the issues I've had in the past with passing I'm considering cutting my loses, dropping out of the course, and applying to start from the beginning at a new university but with the same project. I just feel as though if I fail a probation it would make it near impossible to be accepted at another institution.

Does anyone know much about this? Will I possibly be able to drop out and apply elsewhere with a project that's already be partially worked on? Would my current university give me bad references due to my probation status? If I do apply elsewhere I have no intention of being dishonest so I would let them know I'd been on probation, but will this mean I'd struggle to be accepted?

I know some of you may question why I would wish to apply elsewhere with the same project I've been unsuccessful with, but it is something I am very passionate about and feel, with more time, could definitely work as a PhD thesis.

Thank you in advance to anyone who could offer me any form of help/advice.

User: Evolet - 05 February 2018 10:57

Why you are thinking in a Negative form. Think Positive and everything around you will move positively.

User: Englishlit92 - 05 February 2018 12:22

Hey Evolet,

Thank you for your reply. I'm usually a very positive person, but being put on probation and being at risk of removal from something that means the world can bring a person down a bit. Do you think a person could have a chance of beginning a PhD from the start if it shows on their records they once unsuccessfully attempted a PhD elsewhere? I'm positive in that, if I did have to start all over again, I would happily do so because I'm so passionate about my project. Just nervous at the thought of not being able to do so.

If anyone has any thought/comments/advice about this then that would be great.


User: TreeofLife - 05 February 2018 13:40

Evolet's a random poster - only 2 posts - I wouldn't expect much of a decent response from them.

You generally can't take projects with you when you move - the IP belongs to the supervisor and/or uni. Unless it was your idea, then it might be possible.

It's supervisor that gives your references - they will tell it like they see it no doubt. They will have to say you were on probation. It may mean you may struggle to be accepted.

What are your sticking points in passing probation? I would work to pass. Take advice from the head of department, or liaison officers or student union.

User: Pjlu - 05 February 2018 20:23

Hi there EL92, I agree with ToL's response in general, and specifically with regard to your prospects for a successful new application given you have currently not passed probation to extend your MPhil into a PhD.

Instead, is it possible to complete your MPhil project with your current university, and then apply for a PhD that explores one of your outliers, or recommendations. My experience with social sciences/education theses, is that they inevitably point out further extensions or areas for study, which are closely related to your primary topic. Perhaps after completing your current study, you might be better placed to apply for that PhD.

The other option might be to look at what the benchmarks are for passing probation and carefully addressing these. Is funding going to be an issue do you think? Perhaps you have funding for your current degree though and this impacts on your choices?

How is your relationship with your current supervisors? Are they helpful and what advice are they giving? Do you think that the advice they are giving might help with the probation issues?

Best wishes-it is a tough process.

User: Englishlit92 - 06 February 2018 13:29

Thank you for your responses, Pjlu and TreeofLife,

I can assure you both my goal is to try and pass this probation, I'm just figuring out some back up options in case I don't. The idea is my own original idea though, naturally, my supervisory team have helped me a lot in terms of its progression. In order to pass this probation I need to write a detailed time scale for completion, write a draft of one of my chapters (which are all just over 16,000 words), and successfully pass the transfer process from MPhil to PhD. I'm not overly concerned on the first two aspects, even though the chapters are long my DoS has said that, as long as it's written, I won't fail it if say the chapter itself is awful. However, this will be the third time that I have tried to pass this transfer process, which is the stage of the probation that most concerns me. The reason I have been put on probation is due to these previous failures (the graduate school basically said the probation is more of a life line to give me one more chance of success). Unfortunately, due to this probation status, I don't think I have the option of MPhil anymore; it either will go through as a PhD, or a fail.

Yesterday I had a meeting with my DoS which, surprisingly, seemed to go very well. She told me my thesis statement and methodology were much improved, and that I need to just ensure that the rest of my report follows that same frame. Before I hadn't received any positive feedback for quite some time, hence my desire to have some suitable back up options. I'm now just aiming to write a brilliant report which convinces them all that I am capable of doing this. Anyone have any helpful advice for passing a english lit transfer? Thanks in advance to anyone who can help.


User: TreeofLife - 06 February 2018 19:03

What is it you have to do in order to pass the transfer process then, if it's not just a timeline and chapter?

User: Englishlit92 - 07 February 2018 16:02

Hey TreeofLife,

As far as I'm aware, in order for me to pass the transfer process I need to do several things. I need to show that I have an argument that is worthy of PhD level, I need to show my supervisors I can complete the PhD to an acceptable standard during the time frame, and I need to show them that I have been continuing to write my PhD whilst struggling through this report. In the past, the main issue I've had is that I kept getting told that the way I was presenting my argument came across as though I had done a lot of research in the field, but that the research I'd been discussing was too closely linked to my own. In other words, I need to try and convince them that my research is independent and unique, as apparently so far it hasn't come across in that way.


User: TreeofLife - 08 February 2018 10:47

And how are you going to do that? That is what you need to find out - you can't just chance it and hope for the best. Get several people to review your work if possible.

User: Englishlit92 - 08 February 2018 15:30

On Monday I had a meeting with my DoS to discuss half of my re-written report, this meeting went very well and she said that she saw great improvement, and a solid thesis statement that carried throughout my report. I also sent this section to my other two supervisors, both of whom still haven't replied to me.

My DoS said, as long as the second half of my report is as strong as my first, I should be okay this time. Unfortunately I need to send the report off by no later than Tuesday next week, so I don't have the time to send the next half to my DoS for feedback. Now I just need to hope my other supervisors get back to me, which seems debatable as I have already sent several emails chasing this up, and also hope that my second half of the report is as strong as the first.

I get very nervous during presentations too so need to also hope that I hold my nerve and don't struggle to answer questions during my transfer meeting!


User: TreeofLife - 08 February 2018 16:17

i think you need to be more assertive. What if you wait, and they don't give you feedback, and then you don't pass the transfer? They should want to you pass; they should be working with you all the way on this. I wouldn't rely on email. I would turn up at their door. I would also ask explicitly if the work is good enough to pass. I hope it goes well in any case.

User: Englishlit92 - 09 February 2018 10:27

Hey ToL,

You're right, I'll definitely do so. I've found out now, however, that the reason one of my supervisors has been unable to get back to me is because she is now on leave due to illness. According to my DoS, this supervisor will try get back to me with feedback but, because she's been asked to go on leave, it is more than likely she won't be able to attend my assessed meeting in just over a weeks time. Apparently, instead, once I send off the final report near the start of next week, she will pass her comments onto my DoS who will ask questions on her behalf.

Thank you for your kindness and your support, I will definitely let you know how it goes! I plan on waiting after my meeting to quickly speak with my DoS to see if she can give me a rough idea, otherwise I'll have to wait until March. Though, if it is the same as it was before, I should get emailed within a couple of days after the meeting with amendments to make which will give me an idea on what they thought.


User: chantedsnicker - 09 February 2018 14:00

Just wanted to say that I hope it goes well. You seem to be getting positive feedback that everything is looking better so it sounds like you're doing everything you ccan.

User: Englishlit92 - 09 February 2018 16:35

Hey Chantedsnicker,

Thank you very much! To be honest I have been trying so hard to get this right, I don't think I could have really done anymore than I have. I will definitely post on here and let you know how it goes :)


User: Englishlit92 - 04 March 2018 21:11


I told you I'd keep you all up to date so here it is... I was, yet again, unsuccessful. This has resulted in me not only failing to transfer, but also failing the terms of my probation meaning I will be removed from the course. As you can all imagine I'm completely devastated and terrified about what this means for my future.

My transfer meeting itself seemed to go well. My supervisors and the examiner commented on my new found confidence, the stable argument presented, but also their decision to not pass me for transfer as they felt I had too much to sort in such a short period of time. Now I'm in the very difficult, and worrisome, position as I'm a student who unsuccessfully studied a PhD for three years and failed a probation, which will now be on my records. As I've stated previously academia is my life, my passion, and I can't just accept this as a defeat... more a set back.

Is there anyone whose had any experience of failing a probation and successfully reapplying elsewhere? I really want to reapply to another university and try again with this project, but I'm scared of how bad it will look to have spent three years studying the same project unsuccessfully. Do you think it is going to be hard, maybe even impossible, to reapply with this project elsewhere? Do you think maybe I'd be more likely to get accepted elsewhere with an entirely different project? Any help or advice would be much appreciated, as right now I'm feeling incredibly down and need some advice.


P.S. not sure if this helps at all, but my course was entirely self-funded, and when I'd reapply it would be self-funded again (hopefully this may work in my favour, show my passion and dedication to it?)
1 to 15 of 16 PhD Forum Posts

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