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16.03.10. What to look for in a research degree

Stephen Hoare reports

Besides the obvious questions that prospective postgraduate students need to ask, such as what is the quality of teaching and the department's research ranking, they need to research their application thoroughly. Professor Vince Emery, vice-head of University College London (UCL) graduate school, advises students to look beyond the academic ranking. "I say to students, 'Don't just go for the Russell Group. A university further down the league table might have a really cracking department in your subject area'," he says.

Quality of life issues are important, too. Emery says that, when they start a course, students can find themselves isolated within a specialist department or a narrow discipline: "At UCL we believe in cross-fertilisation. We run social and cultural events where postgraduates can mix. Meeting people from other disciplines such as medical students and engineers can make a real difference to the breadth of a postgraduate student's research." Read full text here.