How to Survive Your PhD

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9/10 stars
based on  21 reviews
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FREE

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edX online courses
Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California, Berkeley, are just some of the schools that you have at your fingertips with edX. Through massive open online courses (MOOCs) from the world's best universities, you can develop your knowledge in literature, math, history, food and nutrition, and more. These online classes are taught by highly-regarded experts in the field. If you take a class on computer science through Harvard, you may be tau...
Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California, Berkeley, are just some of the schools that you have at your fingertips with edX. Through massive open online courses (MOOCs) from the world's best universities, you can develop your knowledge in literature, math, history, food and nutrition, and more. These online classes are taught by highly-regarded experts in the field. If you take a class on computer science through Harvard, you may be taught by David J. Malan, a senior lecturer on computer science at Harvard University for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. But there's not just one professor - you have access to the entire teaching staff, allowing you to receive feedback on assignments straight from the experts. Pursue a Verified Certificate to document your achievements and use your coursework for job and school applications, promotions, and more. EdX also works with top universities to conduct research, allowing them to learn more about learning. Using their findings, edX is able to provide students with the best and most effective courses, constantly enhancing the student experience.

Provider Subject Specialization
Sciences & Technology
Business & Management
22376 reviews

Course Description

You need to be smart to begin a PhD - but you need to be resilient to finish one. Between one-quarter and one-third of all research students never finish their degree. The PhD is an emotional journey as much as it is an intellectual one.

What kinds of emotions does the research degree process provoke? What strategies can help students deal with the emotional highs and lows? How can academic advisors, family and friends help research students cope with these stresses - and celebrate the successes?

This course is primarily designed for masters, PhD, and research students and the academics who are tasked with helping them, but you may also be a family member or friend of a PhD student who is seeking to better understand what your loved one is going through.

By directly addressing the emotional issues, and by helping us see the connections between emotional resilience and success, this course aims to help us all create a more su...

You need to be smart to begin a PhD - but you need to be resilient to finish one. Between one-quarter and one-third of all research students never finish their degree. The PhD is an emotional journey as much as it is an intellectual one.

What kinds of emotions does the research degree process provoke? What strategies can help students deal with the emotional highs and lows? How can academic advisors, family and friends help research students cope with these stresses - and celebrate the successes?

This course is primarily designed for masters, PhD, and research students and the academics who are tasked with helping them, but you may also be a family member or friend of a PhD student who is seeking to better understand what your loved one is going through.

By directly addressing the emotional issues, and by helping us see the connections between emotional resilience and success, this course aims to help us all create a more supportive academic environment, where students can do their best research work. 

Reviews 9/10 stars
21 Reviews for How to Survive Your PhD

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António Feio profile image
António Feio profile image

António Feio

8/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 8 months ago
The content is extremely useful and pertinent. Only remark is to the suggested length of weekly time necessary, I think it takes more than 2h/w. The course was absolutely worth it. Instructors are wise, focused, hipper professional and capable of the task. I 100% recommend the attendance.
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Hanne Nielsen profile image
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Hanne Nielsen

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 8 months ago
This is a great course for all PhD students and their supervisors! It is well structured, addressing a range of themes that can pose problems throughout the PhD process (and indeed in academic life in general). The weekly activities are relevant and have useful applications right away. Another valuable part of this course was the camaraderie it fostered between students in all sorts of geographical locations. I would recommend taking this MOOC early in your PhD if possible so you have some idea how to deal with challenges, but if you are further along it is also useful, and your experienced advice will be appreciated. Five stars!
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Jan Macfarlane profile image
Jan Macfarlane profile image

Jan Macfarlane

4/10 starsDropped
3 years, 8 months ago
This course was a real eye opener in helping me appreciate the anxieties and thoughts phd students and supervisors share internationally. It made it come to life and less imposing than I thought it might be. The lecturers were open and approachable and humerous - it wasn't too slick or exclusive which is a real strength. I was unaware of the amount of people who would sign up for it and this made me feel less responsible somehow to responding to posts. I did not finish the course due to lecturing commitments and studying the Science of happiness course - but this is me over committing and will learn form this for next time.
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Sassan Gholiagha profile image
Sassan Gholiagha profile image

Sassan Gholiagha

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 8 months ago
This was a great course. I learned a lot and I can especially recommend this course to people starting their PhD. But it is also a great course at really any stage of the PhD.
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student

8/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 8 months ago
As a result of doing this MOOC I've been able to give and receive support and resources, in 'community' with other doctoral students around the world and across multiple disciplines. Inger and her team did a great job. I chose to do the assessment, and hope to put my ideas into practice some time over the next few months. The networks that have emerged will continue the benefits beyond the end of the MOOC itself. I found the platform frustrating. Part of this was probably just the huge numbers that ended up participating, and part was the features of the platform itself (mainly in terms of the discussion aspects, which was cumbersome, unreliable and difficult to search or streamline intuitively - if at all). I think the audience was a little unclear at times, too, and maybe it would be better to run separate MOOCs for supervisors, students and (particularly) frends-and-family. Over all, this MOOC provided insights into the doctoral ... As a result of doing this MOOC I've been able to give and receive support and resources, in 'community' with other doctoral students around the world and across multiple disciplines. Inger and her team did a great job. I chose to do the assessment, and hope to put my ideas into practice some time over the next few months. The networks that have emerged will continue the benefits beyond the end of the MOOC itself. I found the platform frustrating. Part of this was probably just the huge numbers that ended up participating, and part was the features of the platform itself (mainly in terms of the discussion aspects, which was cumbersome, unreliable and difficult to search or streamline intuitively - if at all). I think the audience was a little unclear at times, too, and maybe it would be better to run separate MOOCs for supervisors, students and (particularly) frends-and-family. Over all, this MOOC provided insights into the doctoral process that complemented the other resources I use. I doubt that the instructors really knew what they were signing up for when they took it on, but huge thanks to all - it was well worth the effort.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 8 months ago
An invaluable course assisting PhD students with the emotional side of completing a thesis, I found the course to be engaging, relevant and insightful. I was and am sensing all the emotions and have taken comfort in knowing that I am not alone in these feelings. The course material was accessible and gave us an opportunity over each week to discuss and follow others' observations and personal stories. The discussion area on EdX was difficult to navigate and if one didn't click on posts to follow it was potluck when returning to read follow up conversations. I thoroughly enjoyed the social aspect of the course with twitter feeds, Facebook pages and even the odd f2f meets for coffee organised by various groups. I felt a real part of the MOOC community the whole time and appreciated the feedback on posts, blogs and ideas to keep the hash tag alive. The weekly periscope session with Inger and the team was uplifting, enjoyable and enter... An invaluable course assisting PhD students with the emotional side of completing a thesis, I found the course to be engaging, relevant and insightful. I was and am sensing all the emotions and have taken comfort in knowing that I am not alone in these feelings. The course material was accessible and gave us an opportunity over each week to discuss and follow others' observations and personal stories. The discussion area on EdX was difficult to navigate and if one didn't click on posts to follow it was potluck when returning to read follow up conversations. I thoroughly enjoyed the social aspect of the course with twitter feeds, Facebook pages and even the odd f2f meets for coffee organised by various groups. I felt a real part of the MOOC community the whole time and appreciated the feedback on posts, blogs and ideas to keep the hash tag alive. The weekly periscope session with Inger and the team was uplifting, enjoyable and entertaining. I recommend such a course to every PhD student past and present and to supervisors and even perhaps family members in an effort to share the experiences of being a PhD. #survivephd15 & PhD Owls have become a lifeline for me -thanks to all who had a part in bringing it together, in participating and in what is to come.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 8 months ago
I really loved the readings and the uplifting and humane spirit of this course. It has been inspiring, reassuring and demystifying - a huge credit to Inger and her incredible team. While I was pleased that so many participants found comfort in the highly active online community that developed, I chose to simply dip in and out of the online discussions as needed. They were, for me, too time consuming (and distracting) to keep up with. I chose not to do the final assignment. I felt I'd got enough out of the course and needed to focus on my actual PhD research deliverables. I also felt no need to be assessed/receive the certificate. I would highly recommend this course to anyone undertaking a PhD. It has definitely filled a gap in the market! Congratulations and HUGE THANKS to all the organisers.
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Cheryl Greyson profile image
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Cheryl Greyson

8/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 8 months ago
This was a great course for PhD students around the globe to feel part of a supportive community. It was run with great commitment and enthusiasm. I'm now part of an active Facebook group formed by 'older, wiser' members - PhD Owls. I felt the assessment element was unnecessary... I got everything I wanted from the course and more without needing a certificate at the end of it. Highly recommended.
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Ana Diaz profile image
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Ana Diaz

8/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 8 months ago
I really enjoyed this course. It helped me to navigate the difficult terrain of being a PhD student.
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Jenny Delasalle profile image
Jenny Delasalle profile image

Jenny Delasalle

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 8 months ago
I took this course as someone who supports researchers. It highlights emotions and issues that PhD students may experience, across the disciplines, and the participants' tasks and contributions really illustrated the issues. Such sharing and reflection on learning was successfully cultivated into a sense of cameraderie by the course moderators: no mean feat, in a MOOC! It is not only the course material that has been valuable, but also the way in which the course was taught, across many platforms/social media channels and using a hard-working team of moderators to actively support such a large number of participants.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 8 months ago
I am currently writing-up my post viva PhD thesis corrections and work in a professorial role supporting researcher development, training and transferable skills for PhD Researchers. My interest in the MOOC was two-fold; it was a way to continue to look for support whilst completing my own PhD and it was an opportunity to learn from others about their experiences of undertaking a PhD. I really enjoyed the MOOC and found that it didn't take up much time in a week, although there is scope to be involved with it as little or as much as your schedule (and timezone) allows. I would highly recommend taking the MOOC!
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Elisabet Tiselius profile image
Elisabet Tiselius profile image

Elisabet Tiselius

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 8 months ago
I defended my PhD 2 years ago and took the course to develop as a supervisor and colleague to PhDs. Very interesting, thought-provoking couse. I learnt a lot about things important for the PhD, but not necessarily part of the PhD curriculum. Lots of things I wished I had learnt while doing my PhD. The content of the course and the instruction was excellent. The platform is at best functional, but very often confusing and limiting.
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Mike Bather profile image
Mike Bather profile image

Mike Bather

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 8 months ago
Superb way to gain an overview of the emotional journey made during a PhD. Personally, this was a big help as I am a distance candidate with a very relaxed supervisor.
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Pip Ferguson profile image
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Pip Ferguson

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 8 months ago
I took this MOOC largely to support colleagues and students who are doing PhDs. I did my own years ago, graduating in 1999. I found the material covered and the way it was put across rang true with my own experience. As a staff developer, I have also co-facilitated sessions for PhD supervisors in the past - some of this material would have been great to share with them. I particularly liked the way Inger's team worked together in so many ways, sharing upfront presentation, collating Periscope and Twitter comments, and presenting a Storify to cover the main points and feedback. I joined the 'PhD Owls' Facebook group set up by Fiona Tito Wheatland and have found that, too, an ongoing source of useful recommendations and links. I would warmly recommend others to take this MOOC next time it is offered.
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Emma Gentle profile image
Emma Gentle profile image

Emma Gentle

8/10 starsTaking Now
3 years, 8 months ago
As a long distance PhD student I found the course so very helpful. It made me feel part of an interested and interesting group, which feels important when you are not working in a dynamic, academic learning environment. I recommend it highly. It was great to hear I was not alone in my experiences this far in, it put much of my angst into perspective. Thank you so much Inga, Katie and All there at ANU for making it so accessible.
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Sam Young profile image
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Sam Young

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 8 months ago
Great course; great materials; mediocre to bad platform (the platform being the course provider/hoster, edX). Dr Mewburn and her team at ANU curated a wonderful set of materials, sourced from a very broad range of fields which, according to the conversation they sparked, covered the emotional rollercoaster of the PhD very well. As someone who is just at the beginning of my PhD path, having taken the MOOC, I now feel much more prepared for what is to come with my research. I also feel much more connected to some of the 13,500 people who were on the course with me. It was great to experience the wealth of experience in the community and to create some links to others. Hopefully those links will strengthen over time. The course was well-paced, and the material formats were varied and of good quality. The Periscope broadcasts were fabulous. The most difficult thing about the MOOC was trying to follow conversations: the edX platform... Great course; great materials; mediocre to bad platform (the platform being the course provider/hoster, edX). Dr Mewburn and her team at ANU curated a wonderful set of materials, sourced from a very broad range of fields which, according to the conversation they sparked, covered the emotional rollercoaster of the PhD very well. As someone who is just at the beginning of my PhD path, having taken the MOOC, I now feel much more prepared for what is to come with my research. I also feel much more connected to some of the 13,500 people who were on the course with me. It was great to experience the wealth of experience in the community and to create some links to others. Hopefully those links will strengthen over time. The course was well-paced, and the material formats were varied and of good quality. The Periscope broadcasts were fabulous. The most difficult thing about the MOOC was trying to follow conversations: the edX platform is poor at that. If you take this course, either encourage the ANU team to set up an alternative platform for discussions outside edX - for example, a Facebook or a LinkedIn group, supported by Twitter - or create something yourself. Trying to track and create meaningful conversations was difficult to impossible (most people would post a comment, then never come back to look for responses to their post, in amongst the pages and pages of posts). You will learn heaps from the course, and - if you find some alternative methods to connect with others - you will also enjoy the collegiality.
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Ros Roberts profile image
Ros Roberts profile image

Ros Roberts

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 8 months ago
What a wonderful course! Although I had just submitted my PhD, I was still on the email list of my grad office when the email came through promoting this course. I had recently read a blog from the Thesis Whisperer which seemed to echo all of my sentiments about the tumultuous years of my PhD journey, so I thought "What the heck....Better late than never!" I only *wish* that this course had been running during my PhD years. Nonetheless, I still found the material both valuable and reassuring and a bit of a debrief of all that I had experienced during my own journey. Although I received my confirmation a couple of weeks into the course, topics like that on Imposter Syndrome were still so relevant to me and helped me to realise that I wasn't alone in those feelings. I just loved the personality and relaxed approach of Inger and her team which put a human face on the experience, something that you wouldn't really expect in a MOOC co... What a wonderful course! Although I had just submitted my PhD, I was still on the email list of my grad office when the email came through promoting this course. I had recently read a blog from the Thesis Whisperer which seemed to echo all of my sentiments about the tumultuous years of my PhD journey, so I thought "What the heck....Better late than never!" I only *wish* that this course had been running during my PhD years. Nonetheless, I still found the material both valuable and reassuring and a bit of a debrief of all that I had experienced during my own journey. Although I received my confirmation a couple of weeks into the course, topics like that on Imposter Syndrome were still so relevant to me and helped me to realise that I wasn't alone in those feelings. I just loved the personality and relaxed approach of Inger and her team which put a human face on the experience, something that you wouldn't really expect in a MOOC course. I recommend this course for any and all PhD students as well as those doing an MPhil. Indeed, while many PhD candidates might not be able to discern the courses that are useful to them, let me assure you that this is perhaps more useful and important than any statistics or research course you will ever do.
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Micheline Campbell profile image
Micheline Campbell profile image

Micheline Campbell

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 8 months ago
This course was invaluable in improving my understanding of the less academic side of academia (i.e. the emotional toll of doing a PhD!). I would absolutely recommend it to all PhD students and supervisors.
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Caitlin Pfeiffer profile image
Caitlin Pfeiffer profile image

Caitlin Pfeiffer

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 8 months ago
Valuable course for prospective PhDs, current PhDs (early and late), supervisors and supporters. A real insight into the emotions of doing a PhD and a great community to support you on the journey. Highly recommended - it really will help you survive!
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Diane Phillips profile image
Diane Phillips profile image

Diane Phillips

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 8 months ago
Every PhD student should be introduced to the content of this course. Raising many issues for a broad range of candidates. I've suggested it many times to my colleagues and the university administration. The course reduced the isolation, provided space for collegiality and support. Thank you Diane
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Richard Meredith profile image
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Richard Meredith

8/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 9 months ago
There are often few institutional resources for aiding PhD student to Manage the emotions of a research project. This course covers six emotions (confidence, frustration, loneliness, fear, confusion and boredom and links them back to theory (Hochschild 1983) in a way that allows them to surface safely, with good support around to help.
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