Hear from our Admissions and Enquiries expert on what you can expect from your PhD and what the Postgraduate Research Service can help with...

"It’s safe to say that everyone’s PhD research and PhD experience is going to be different..."

The research areas investigated from student to student can be vastly different, often worlds apart, and studying for a PhD is hard work.

"Yes, it is hard work, but remember it’s also incredibly rewarding."

UEA offers a sense of community and a strong support system; you’re here to do the research and we’re here to support you every step of the way.

The Postgraduate Research Service has two offices across the Norwich Research Park, you may not need to visit our offices very often but when you do you’ll find a friendly face and all the help that you need. Postgraduate research students (PGR) also have a number of designated areas across campus where you can study (study spaces in both schools and the library), relax (coffee shops and food places), or even let your hair down (bars, societies, and student union activities).

"The best way I can describe working on a PhD or research degree is that you’ll be treated as a colleague and a research peer rather than a student."

You’ll get to work closely with your supervisory team on your research plan, literature review, and your professional development training.

While the structure of your PhD can vary depending on your school and your research area, the basic elements remain the same. You’ll need to plan your research, study the literature to understand related work, carry out your own research, and analyse and write up your findings. Naturally, a historian’s research into Medieval England, for example, is going to be very different from a chemist’s research into nanoscience. During the entire duration of your degree you’ll still have the full support of your supervisory team and the PGR Service.

After your initial thesis submission (which I promise you we are just as excited about as you are), you’ll have your viva where you defend your thesis. The outcomes of the viva do vary, but the ultimate goal is to submit the final version of your thesis and to graduate as a Doctor of Philosophy!

A PhD is a bespoke, individual degree but rest assured the research and academic community at UEA provides a supportive and welcoming environment that you’ll be proud to belong to.

Infographic showing what to expect from your PhD.


You've secured yourself a PhD, so what can you expect?

Due to the independent nature of PhDs, you'll guide your learning much more than an undergraduate degree. Your PhD will last for three or more years so you'll become very familiar with your field.

1. Plan

At the beginning of your PhD, you'll meet your academic supervisors to discuss the general direction of your research. UEA ensure PhD students benefit from maximum support by having at least two supervisors.

2. Literature Review

You'll likely undertake a literature review to explore what other findings there have been so far in your field in order to inform your own research.

3.  Investigate

Now you'll begin to undertake your own research. Depending on whether you're a Science or Humanities student for example, your day will look different. You might be in a laboratory researching, collecting data or using archives. 

4. Analyse

Towards the end of the PhD, you'll be focused on writing up your findings. The thesis is a detailed analysis of your research findings and conclusions - it shows why you've done your research in the first place and will likely detail the background of your research, the materials and methods you used, your results and then the discussion of the results in context of what's already been found.

5. Submit and present  

Once you've submitted your thesis, you'll then go onto to do your viva. This is where you will verbally present your findings to examiners and you’ll be able to defend your PhD. There can be a number of outcomes from your viva including passing with no corrections, passing with corrections, or having an additional year to resubmit. 

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The Postgraduate Research Service is there when you have a question, whether it’s about financing your research degree or you need some information about writing your research proposal. You can email us or call us on (+44) 1603 59 1709.

If you would like to get in touch with someone from one of the Norwich Bioscience Institutes, please contact graduates.nrp@nbi.ac.uk or telephone (+44) 1603 450768.