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PhD plans - John C. Kirk

May. 27th, 2003

10:46 pm - PhD plans

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Well, that's not so good.

I've had another email from the lecturer at Imperial - he is concerned that I haven't taken more of the Logic, Language and Computation modules, and thinks I should delay my PhD application until I've established myself with my MSc. The reason I haven't done any of the relevant modules is that I can't - they're not available in the MSc in Advanced Computing, only in the MSc in Agents, Logic and Computation, and the MSc in Natural Language Processing.

The reason I'm not doing one of those MSc courses comes back to my 2:2. I figured that after I'd been rejected by Imperial twice for their MSc course, the only advantage I had was my work experience (which Kings take into account, but Imperial doesn't). However, my experience was more relevant to the Advanced Computing course (algorithms etc.) than the NLP course. I could have applied for both, but the FAQ explicitly says "The programmes cater for different areas of Computer Science. Candidates with a focussed attitude towards the individual programme are preferred." So, it was a calculated risk - I figured that successfully applying for a less relevant MSc was better than unsuccessfully applying for a more relevant MSc.

Unfortunately, Imperial and Sussex are both unhappy about my lack of NLP experience when I've applied for PhD places, so it seems likely that I'll get the same problem wherever else I apply. This then means that I may need to do another MSc that's more relevant before I can do a PhD. So, I'll use this year's MSc to improve my undergraduate qualification, to actually get onto the NLP course, then use that to get me into a research degree. But it does feel like I'm going round in circles. Whatever happens, I think I need to take a year out, so that I can reapply early in the academic year, with an actual MSc qualification behind me. Also, if I can't get funding, then I'll need to save up some more money to cover the costs of a second MSc course.

So, the current plan is looking like this:
2002-2003 - MSc in Advanced Computing at Kings
2003-2004 - year out, saving money
2004-2005 - MSc related to NLP, somewhere
2005-2008 - PhD
by which time I'll be 34 years old.

I'll broaden my search a bit next year, but I think it will be pretty much the same situation everywhere. There are a couple of interesting options at Sussex - they offer part-time MSc courses over 2 years, and a 4 year DPhil programme (first year taught, then 3 years of research).

Oh well, I'll basically put all that on hold now, and just focus on finishing off my current MSc, and hopefully getting a distinction. At least that way I can look intelligent, even if I still seem ignorant of a particular field.

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Comments:

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From:elvum
Date:May 27th, 2003 03:02 pm (UTC)
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Well, finishing your education at 34 would be considered pretty normal in eg Germany...
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From:rjw1
Date:May 27th, 2003 03:32 pm (UTC)
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you will still probably beat phil :)
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From:shuripentu
Date:May 28th, 2003 02:25 am (UTC)
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On the bright side of things, by the end of it, you'll have plenty of qualifications and work experience :)
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From:rileen
Date:May 29th, 2003 01:37 pm (UTC)

M.Sc 2003-4?

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Hi, if at all you should do another M.Sc, i think it's best to do it right away, if possible.
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From:johnckirk
Date:May 29th, 2003 02:14 pm (UTC)

Re: M.Sc 2003-4?

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I'd like to, but there are two problems:

a) I've missed most of the application dates - the only one I know of that's still available is Kings.

b) Assuming that I won't get funding, I can't afford it - this year is draining my savings, and putting me in debt.
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From:rileen
Date:May 30th, 2003 08:32 am (UTC)
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Well, funds can of course be a problem, though £3000 or so shouldn't be too bad, i guess ...... amazing to think that King's is the only one still available. Are you absolutely sure? Guess you mean only the ones in & around London?

Hope your revision's going well - i started yesterday.
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From:johnckirk
Date:May 30th, 2003 09:26 am (UTC)
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Well, funds can of course be a problem, though £3000 or so shouldn't be too bad, i guess

That would cover the tuition fees, which isn't really a problem - I could just stick that much on my credit card if necessary. It's the maintenance costs (food, rent, books, etc.) which are more of an issue. I could ask the bank for a loan, but if I then go on to do a PhD afterwards then I won't be getting a huge grant, i.e. I may have trouble repaying the loan. Once my exams are over I'll go through my budget and look at my options, but I think I'll need to take the year out.

amazing to think that King's is the only one still available. Are you absolutely sure? Guess you mean only the ones in & around London?

Well, I haven't done an exhaustive search, but the deadline for Imperial has gone past (1 May), and Sussex say "as early as possible, preferably before 1 May", so that seems to be a fairly common time of year.

Hope your revision's going well - i started yesterday.

It's going ok (been at it for about a week now), although I've found various errors in the lecture notes and the textbook, so once I've finished my first pass (probably tonight/tomorrow), I'll email Raphael and the authors. Then they can take a look to confirm what I think, while I'm doing my second pass.
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From:rileen
Date:May 30th, 2003 09:38 am (UTC)
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First pass? You mean you're going over everything twice or more? Wow ........

You should try reading Knuth's books - he pays the first reader to spot an error :-) !!

Many deadlines are applicable only if you're applying for funding - also, jobs.ac.uk seem to advertise funded M.Scs every now & then.
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