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Part-time doctoral research – University of Reading

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    Around a quarter of our postgraduate researchers are on part-time programmes

Part-time doctoral research

Our part-time postgraduate researchers make up an important part of our research community. At Reading, we recognise the distinct nature of studying part time, and we have a wealth of experience and resources to help you succeed.

If you are thinking of studying for a doctorate part time, you will be in good company. A quarter of our postgraduate researchers either complete their entire programme on a part-time basis or switch after starting full time. You may find that studying part time suits you because:

  • you have work commitments
  • you have caring responsibilities
  • it's preferable for financial reasons.

Whatever your reason, you will be joining a diverse group of individuals – typically a few years older than our full-time postgraduate researchers and mostly from the UK or EU.

“As a part-time, mature student there are times when I work full time on my thesis, while at other times it gets far less input due to my other commitments. Neither myself, my supervisor nor my postgraduate director have ever considered this a problem and this relaxed, flexible attitude has helped immensely and kept me unstressed and on track.”

Hilary Matthews – PhD in History, (part time)

Time frames for part-time study

Working hours and patterns

Your working hours and patterns are not usually specified; however, as a guide, you should expect to spend at least 15 hours a week working on your research or undertaking training and development events. And at certain points in your doctoral journey, you may have to dedicate more time for intensive study.

You will find your own preferred way of working with us – a few of our part-time cohort attend daily, some others attend weekly, but most who live further afield attend less frequently.

Submission timescales

As a part-time postgraduate researcher, you will should aim to submit your thesis within five years of starting your programme. The maximum time allowed is six years, while the earliest submission date is four years (unless you have special permission).

The part-time journey

There are several milestones on your journey towards completing a doctorate. For an overview of the key activities and timescales involved, see our guide to what a postgraduate research programme entails.

Core training

To equip you with the skills you need to carry out your research professionally and effectively, we have created the Reading Researcher Development Programme (RRDP).

As a part-time postgraduate researcher, you should attend at least nine RRDP sessions over the course of your doctoral programme.

Our part-time postgraduate researchers

To get a fuller flavour of what part-time doctoral research is like at Reading, read what our current postgraduate researchers have to say about their experiences and how studying part time works for them.

Funding for part-time study

Our Regional PhD Bursary scheme may be of particular interest to you if you are a local resident (i.e. living within a 25-mile radius of the University) and wish to undertake a postgraduate research programme while living at home. This competitive scheme has run for a number of years now and has proved particularly popular with those wanting to study part time, many of whom work in the region.

The University of Reading is also currently working with selected employers to support the career development of their talented employees, by means of the Wilkie Calvert Co-Supported PhD Studentships. If you are keen to develop your career further by undertaking a part-time PhD on a topic that is relevant to your organisation, this studentship may be of relevance to you.

Fees for part-time study

You will need to pay the relevant fee for the first four years of study (i.e. the minimum registration period). After this, you pay a reduced continuation fee, provided that you are at the writing-up stage.

If you are self-funded, your fees (including Research Expenses and Supervisory Visit Fees) are normally payable in two equal instalments – one at the start of the academic year and one at the start of the second term.

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