How likely am I to get PhD funding?
September 22, 2019 3:29 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to do a PhD in typography/graphic design, but I'm not sure how realistic a goal that is.

I have a master's degree in Book Design from the University of Reading, and my dissertation advisor told me she thought I'd be a good candidate for a PhD, but I would need funding. I know there are studentships available here and here, but I'm sure they're very competitive, and I don't want to get my hopes up if I have little chance of getting one. Is this a pie-in-the-sky ambition or is it something I have a decent chance of getting if I can put together a good proposal?
posted by Chenko to Education (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
You need to talk to your advisor and at least one other faculty advisor about finding in your field.

Some people get partially funded for teaching at the University or other similar work. There may be specific other funded work you may be suited for. Your advisor may be thinking you'd be well suited to closely related field with a way better funding situation. I don't know, but I think you should ask your faculty about locations and funding sources! Good luck!
posted by Kalmya at 4:09 PM on September 22, 2019 [2 favorites]


It's not impossible, but funding for PhDs, particularly in Arts and Humanities, is extremely tight. You need to have an excellent proposal and support from your potential supervisor to stand a realistic chance and even then it will be difficult. Kalmya's advice about looking for partial funding or teaching work while you are researching may give you some other options but it's very dependent on the institution.
(background: my wife recently completed a PhD in the humanities at a UK university - she got some funding for her course fees but not for anything else)
posted by crocomancer at 2:28 AM on September 23, 2019


Hi, I work in research in the UK (albeit in STEM) with lots of humanities friends and colleagues who have done/are doing PhDs. There are funding sources - and not just university ones like you linked - for example, the research councils (AHRC is the one most closely linked to you), but things are tight in the humanities just now. Your advisor should be able to help you - where do they get their funding? Where did they get post-doc and PhD funding? That kind of thing. There is a lot of interest at the moment in cross-disciplinary work linked to AI/Machine learning/psychology/design and human interactions etc. IS that something that you could translate your interest into? Are you planning on staying at Reading and working with your current supervisor, or going somewhere else? If the former, and your advisor cannot come up with much more than googling for scholarships, I would be wary. Same for the latter in a way - you might need to lean on their connections/recommendations.

My general advice is never to do a PhD without full funding. I know that is tricky in the arts, but I have seen it not end well for quite a few people. In the UK, you can complete a phd in 3/4 years - funding should reflect this with relatively minimal teaching load compared to the US (which is why I did my own PhD here). What about Europe? I know things are uncertain with Brexit, but there are a lot of opportunities in English-teaching-speaking departments in Scandinavia and Germany in particular. Or you could look for a job where you could also do a PhD part-time, but I have also seen that be more difficult than a full-time PhD.

Overall, I suppose it depends what you want out of a PhD. Do you want to be an academic?Are there academic career paths in your field apart from your current advisor and department? Do you have other career plans?

Feel free to pm me if you have any specific questions - and good luck!
posted by sedimentary_deer at 3:47 AM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


Graphic design is a very narrow field of research, with few institutions and very few grants/positions. Reading is top of the list, but still it might make sense, as sedimentary_deer says, to look out and around. You could talk with your supervisor about that, too.
I have no idea what will happen after Brexit, who does? But I think that at most universities, they only look at qualifications when accepting Phd students, not at nationality at all. Funding will be different from country to country, and I'm not aware of the different rules. In Copenhagen, there is a tiny research group within I think font design. If you can get a position there, it is paid just like a normal union job. Your supervisor should know about it.
posted by mumimor at 6:46 AM on September 23, 2019


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