Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Information for Prospective PhD Students

In the US, a proposal is not a requirement for applying to do a PhD. Usually, students do one to two years of coursework before writing their proposal and it is enough to confirm that a department has faculty specializing in the general area that a student is interested in, say energy economics or climate change in my case. But, here in Australia, we expect students to submit a detailed proposal, even though in practice this proposal will be extensively revised after they start study. And in our economics program there is a year of coursework before students switch to research only. It makes sense to me for a student to select an area of interest to the potential supervisor and then discuss with the supervisor how to develop the proposal. Of course, a student might have a burning issue that they can't wait to conduct research on. But I doubt there are really many such cases. I certainly didn't know what I wanted to research. This was one of the main reasons I went to study in the US rather than remain in the UK. In the UK I would have needed to submit a proposal with my application.

Jack Pezzey has some good guidelines to help potential PhD students think about the application process in Australia. He recommends developing the proposal in consultation with him. He also has a great summary of his current research interests. That was meant to be one of the purposes of this blog. I used to have a research page on my website. But I scrapped that when I started this blog. I've decided it's time to put up a research page again. I hope this will be useful to give potential PhD students and collaborators an idea of what I am currently working on or would be interested in working.

Some previous thoughts on PhD applications.

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