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Former Director of PG Studies

Purely on the funding question (though I would tend to agree Marcus' suggestion of caution about PhD courses from a distance), it will really depend on the particular university. Many funded places in the UK come through internal sources, and the majority of the rest come through things like the AHRC that are also administered individually by universities (on behalf of the external funding body).

As for the chances, in my experience, given the extreme lack of funded places available, preference tends to be given to students that are not only excellent but also show that they would be a positive influence in the graduate community. If you are working from a distance, this makes this aspect hard to illustrate.

This does NOT mean that you won't get a place on the course. Most UK universities are perfectly happy to offer places without funding associated with those places. It just means that you need to have an especially strong application to beat the other excellent applications for funding from those that would plan to live in the location and be a part of the PG community.


Vargas might consider options outside the UK like Leuven, which has resources in his areas of interest, offers English programs at the master's and Ph.D. levels, and doesn't require one to reside in Europe the full duration of one's studies.

Jake Wojtowicz

Have you looked at the Open University? I don't know how they work r.e. funding, nor whether citizenship matters, but they are distance-learning based and might be a good option to explore

Henry Lara

I have looked into the remote UK Phd, and I think that Marcus comments about caution are important. But first, to my knowledge, only Birmingham offers any sort of financial support in the form of a modest grant/research scholarship. As far as the Open University, unless something changed recently, it does not offer the philosophy Phd remotely.

Now, I happen to know a student doing the Phd remotely at Edinburgh. He is doing great, and his supervisors have been awesome; so Marcus second concern may not apply at the right institution. That said, Edinburgh may not be the norm, as the faculty has been running a distance master's program for a couple years now, so they have the experience of working with remote students.

The first concern though is important. As was pointed out to the person I know, isolation can be a problem. He was strongly urged to seek out and attend conferences and colloqiua, etc. Which brings me to the original point of the post: the person I mentioned is, in his words, extremely fortunate to be in a situation where he can pay for his studies without financial aid. But my guess is that there is also no support for him to attend conferences and such. So a student doing the Phd remotely will likely not only have to pay for tuition, but must also actively seek out to engage with the profession by attending conferences, etc., the costs of which he or she will have to pay too.

None of the above is insurmountable, of course. I did my master's at Edinburgh, and was able to attend conferences from nearby institutions (I live in Massachusetts), gave a response paper at an Edinburgh conference (remotely), and even secured a TA position at my undergrad alma mater (UMass Boston), while also building a good rapport with faculty and other program students. There is a sense of course in which my experience was different than from, say, my friends that did their MA's in person. But I think that for my situation (being married, with two kids, while keeping a full time job) it was perfect. I don't know if I'll be able to repeat this were I to seek the PHD (working full time is certainly not an option), but the short of it is that the remote option is not for everyone, not only for financial reasons, but also in the demands that it puts on the student if they are to get the most out of their program.

Chris Stephens

As far as Open University is concerned, unless they changed a few years ago, I believe you can do a Phd in philosophy from distance. One of my former Masters' students did a PhD there. Of course it has been over 10 years and they may have changed their policies. It wasn't funded, however. (The student was a mature student, highly motivated, with a flourishing business and time and motivation on his side, but didn't want to leave town to do a PhD. He had a good experience, but wasn't planning to pursue a career in academia).

It is worth looking into, if your situation is similar.

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