Advice for anyone going through the MPhil to PhD Upgrade

Basic guidelines

Firstly meet with your supervisor and read your handbook to make sure you have all the information about the upgrade process. Each institution, faculty and school can be slightly different. Go to sessions on the upgrade process if they have any.

Be prepared and manage you time

Make sure you have plenty of time to prepare for this. See your supervisor very early on about this to make sure you have both agreed deadlines for drafts, final papers and the upgrade date. Some supervisors can be surprisingly casual about this but you need to plan ahead.


I sent a draft to my supervisor and then made sure I had plenty of time to work on the final version (in my case 2 weeks because I’m part-time).


This does differ for each institution but some basic elements remain the same. You will have to be confident about the literature and the distinctiveness of your research question. communicate the level of work you have already done and your plan for the next few years. Make this a realistic plan. Challenge yourself by all means but don’t be unrealistic, particularly if like me, you are also full-time employed. At this stage some methodological issues might not be resolved and you should be able to discuss that as part of the process. However, don’t be in too much of a rush to go through the upgrade if you’ve not done some research and testing of your methodology. I did a pilot and explored methods, approaches and limitations relevant to my area.

The panel

Be really prepared and know your paper inside out. I emmersed myself in papers and material related to my research for a whole day before. I think there is no harm is coming across as passionate about your area of study but be open-minded to different points of view. Dont be defensive. This should be an engaging and critical debate to help you progress in your research. No one sails through even if they have written a great paper . You should welcome the discussion and tough questions. To feel prepared ask yourself what key questions they might ask. These might include; what is your thesis about? Tell us about your methodology? Prepare answers for these questions. It is a good idea to be able to explain your research in 3-4 sentences to non specialist audiences.


Dont forget to celebrate with colleagues, friends and family! This is an important milestone and you should be proud of your achievement. I know I was!

And then the really hard work starts…



  1. This is excellent and I’ve retweeted the link as I have a lot of student clients!

  2. Thanks Liz. I’m glad you found it useful!

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: