A PhD (philosophiæ doctor), sometimes also called a D.Phil, is the highest degree you can be awarded. At Queen Mary, you will study for a University of London PhD. Completing the PhD takes 3 years (for those studying full time) or 5 years (for those studying on a part-time basis).
The PhD itself can take different forms, but in the School of Geography the format is a 100,000 word thesis drawing upon independent research undertaken by you that offers a distinct and original contribution to knowledge in the discipline. It is this notion of independent research that marks out a PhD from other research degrees, and PhD students from other researchers (for example, research associates or those engaged in contract research). Though as a PhD students you will work closely with a group of academic advisors (or ‘supervisors), the research around which the thesis is based is very much a project of your own devising and execution.
Studying for a PhD is extremely demanding and should not be undertaken lightly. You might choose to do a PhD for different reasons. For some, it is a case of exploring their love for a subject as far as they can (and certainly no one should embark upon a PhD without a genuine passion for their chosen area of research). For others it is a means of furthering their career prospects. For employers, a PhD demonstrates originality of thought and the capability - and tenacity - to complete an extended piece of work, as well as whole host of other transferable skills. Whilst those taking a PhD frequently end up working in fields close to their research, including in research positions in academia, business and industry, or the Third sector, these broader qualities are of interest to a wide range of employers and can significantly enhance your career prospects.