CV for PhD Application: Writing Guide (with PhD CV Example)

How to write a CV for a PhD application? Get all the answers for UK PhD applications, together with an PhD CV example you can use.

Whether it is passion for your subject and unanswered questions or the need for this particular qualification professionally—it all starts with a well written PhD application. 

 

The competition is high, places scarce. With our PhD CV example and writing tips you will be one step closer to putting your own brick towards the compendium of human knowledge and understanding. 

 

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PhD CV

 

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PhD CV example

 

Mohammed Whittaker

97 Castledore Road

Twyford 

RG10 9XT

07873254992

mohammed@whittaker.com

 

Research Interests

 

Completed an MA in Philosophy at the University College London with Distinction, writing on the philosophical and moral basis of modern human rights, with a focus on the right to privacy in the digital world. Interpreting theories of ownership of thoughts, the right to free thought of John Stuart Mill, and the Extended Mind Hypothesis to assert whether the Declaration of Human Rights and other conventions could be being violated by national internet privacy laws. Eager to research further into inadequacy of modern laws in the face of ‘bulk data collection’. Conducted large-scale interdisciplinary research into public perception of privacy to be published in the Journal of British Philosophy.

 

Education

 

Distinction MA in Philosophy (2020)

University College London

Department of Philosophy

Thesis Title: ‘Investigatory Powers Act Violations of Human Rights to Privacy’

Thesis Supervisor: Jim Hanson

 

1st Class BSc in Philosophy (2017)

University College London

Department of Philosophy

Thesis Title: ‘Inadequacy of Modern Law, or Inadequacy Classic Philosophical Themes?’

Thesis Supervisor: Karla Hopper

 

Publications

 

  • Baskin, C., Giorno, T., Whittaker, M. (2020), ‘I Have Nothing To Hide: Understanding and Perceptions of Privacy, Rights to Privacy, and Surveillance in the UK’, to be published in the Journal of British Philosophy December 2020.
  • Whittaker, M. (2020) ‘You Never Had a Right to Privacy’, Comment is Free, The Guardian Online 12 February 2020
  • Whittaker, M. (2020) ‘The Vanishing Right to Privacy’, Journal of British Philosophy. 47(2), 93-99.

 

Work Experience

 

University College London, 2018-Present

Teaching Assistant

  • Part of a team of 3 interdisciplinary researchers that secured £21,000 funding from the International Rights Foundation to research public perceptions of classical human rights in the UK.
  • Research experience: Conducted ‘I Have Nothing To Hide: Understanding and Perceptions of Privacy, Rights to Privacy, and Surveillance in the UK’ together with sociologist and psychologist researchers to gauge understanding and importance of privacy to the public and their attitudes when presented with the reality of violations. Undergoing peer-review, to be published December 2020.
  • Teaching experience: 1st Year Introduction to Philosophy (PH100), (4 classes, 67 students total); 1st Year Philosophy of Rights (PH132), (1 class, 12 students), 2nd Year BA Philosophy and Criminal Law (PH292) module (3 classes, 49 students total).
  • Admin experience: Organised three open lectures on the Classical Human Rights. Budget Planner of the Interdisciplinary Workshops 2019, uniting UCL’s 227 best undergraduate and postgraduate students to work across disciplines and problems.

 

Conferences

 

  • Technology Fest 2019 — 2x 45 minute keynote speeches: ‘Do You Have a Right to Privacy?’; ‘What Do They Know?’

 

Memberships

 

  • Royal Institute of Philosophy
  • British Philosophical Association
  • Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics and Ethics

 

References

 

  • Academic Reference: Jim Hanson, Lecturer in Philosophy, MSc thesis supervisor, Department of Philosophy, University College London, Gower St, London, WC1E 6BTLSE, Houghton Street, jimhanson@ucl.ac.uk
  • Employment Reference: Tim Browning, Dean of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, University College London, Gower St, London, WC1E 6BTLSE, Houghton Street, timbrowning@ucl.ac.uk

  

That’s a solid PhD CV example. Here’s how to compose your own CV

 

1. Discuss your research interests at the top of your PhD CV

 

A PhD or academic CV differs from a commercial CV. For jobs, we usually discuss our achievements. In this application, it must explain your research interests and what you have done so far.

 

Don’t spend excessive space telling them what programme you’re applying to. They know.

 

Focus on your best quality past research, explain your current focus and what you plan to research in the future. Show them a deep passion and understanding, and let them see the whole picture. Avoid ambiguous, vague, and unnecessary statements.

 

Limit these 8 lines at the very maximum. There is usually a cover letter or PhD personal statement (whole document) to be written, and they will also most likely read your research if they’re really interested. Spark their interest, show your value. Don’t give away the whole game just yet. 

 

PhD CV example—research interests / personal statement 

 

Completed an MA in Philosophy at the University College London with Distinction, writing on the philosophical and moral basis of modern human rights, with a focus on the right to privacy in the digital world. Interpreting theories of ownership of thoughts, the right to free thought of John Stuart Mill, and the Extended Mind Hypothesis to assert whether the Declaration of Human Rights and other conventions could be being violated by national internet privacy laws. Eager to research further into inadequacy of modern laws in the face of ‘bulk data collection’. Conducted large-scale interdisciplinary research into public perception of privacy to be published in the Journal of British Philosophy.

 

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2. List your education

 

Using reverse-chronological order, list all your degrees, complete with graduation dates, institution and department names, as well as thesis titles and supervisors. If you have unusual achievement to talk about here, you could add some bullet points. 

 

Don’t list secondary education unless specifically asked for some reason. Save the space for something important.

 

PhD CV examples—education section

 

Education 

 

Distinction MA in Philosophy (2020)

University College London

Department of Philosophy

Thesis Title: ‘Investigatory Powers Act Violations of Human Rights to Privacy’

Thesis Supervisor: Jim Hanson

 

1st Class BSc in Philosophy (2017)

University College London

Department of Philosophy

Thesis Title: ‘Inadequacy of Modern Law, or Inadequacy Classic Philosophical Themes?’

Thesis Supervisor: Karla Hopper

 

3. List your publications on your PhD CV

 

If you have any publications at this point, it is probably wise to prioritise them. Sections that could compete are Awards or anything this particular institution tells you to prioritise. 

 

Wherever you place your Publications section, make sure you provide full details of your publications in the citation style preferred by the institution. If you have a variety of different types of publications, you could group them into sections such as journal articles, books, edited volumes, conference papers, government publications, etc.

 

Patents

 

If you have obtained some patents, it’s wise to group them together under your publications. List the title, patent number, inventors and the date the patent was awarded.

 

PhD CV examples—publications

 

Publications

 

  • Baskin, C., Giorno, T., Whittaker, M. (2020), ‘I Have Nothing To Hide: Understanding and Perceptions of Privacy, Rights to Privacy, and Surveillance in the UK’, to be published in the Journal of British Philosophy December 2020.
  • Whittaker, M. (2020) ‘You Never Had a Right to Privacy’, Comment is Free, The Guardian Online 12 February 2020
  • Whittaker, M. (2020) ‘The Vanishing Right to Privacy’, Journal of British Philosophy. 47(2), 93-99.

 

4. List work experience on an PhD CV

 

The PhD CV work experience section will differ from commercial ones. Using the reverse-chronological format as always, you can choose one of the two styles:

 

Work Experience

 

Institution Name, Dates

Job Title

  • Achievement / Awards / Funding (repeat as many times as it’s appropriate)
  • Research experience: Description
  • Teaching experience: Description
  • Admin experience: Description

 

OR

 

Work Experience

 

Institution Name 1, Job Title, Dates

 

Institution Name 2, Job Title, Dates (and so on)

 

Awards and Funding

  • Bullet points with details (Institution)

 

Research Experience:

  • Bullet points with achievements and key points (Institution)

 

Teaching Experience: 

  • Bullet points with achievements and key points (Institution)

 

Admin Experience:

  • Bullet points with achievements and key points (Institution)

 

Whichever way you decide, it will be easier for the reader to digest your PhD CV thematically, so split up your experience between these three categories:

 

Research Experience

 

Any research assistant jobs, fellowships, postdoctoral appointments, etc, go here. This is also the place to expand on your ‘Research Interests’ section if you feel that will help your application.

 

Teaching Experience

 

List the subjects, level and class sizes of all classes, tutorials, seminars and lectures you have given. If there isn’t a lot, you can include mentoring or non-PhD teaching jobs. 

 

Admin Experience

 

List any conferences/seminars/lectures/courses you have organised, the different bodies and organisations you sat on to make yourself stand out as the most complete candidate.

 

PhD CV examples—work experience

 

University College London, 2018-Present

Teaching Assistant

  • Part of a team of 3 interdisciplinary researchers that secured £21,000 funding from the International Rights Foundation to research public perceptions of classical human rights in the UK.
  • Research experience: Conducted ‘I Have Nothing To Hide: Understanding and Perceptions of Privacy, Rights to Privacy, and Surveillance in the UK’ together with sociologist and psychologist researchers to gauge understanding and importance of privacy to the public and their attitudes when presented with the reality of violations. Undergoing peer-review, to be published December 2020.
  • Teaching experience: 1st Year Introduction to Philosophy (PH100), (4 classes, 67 students total); 1st Year Philosophy of Rights (PH132), (1 class, 12 students), 2nd Year BA Philosophy and Criminal Law (PH292) module (3 classes, 49 students total).
  • Admin experience: Organised three open lectures on the Classical Human Rights. Budget Planner of the Interdisciplinary Workshops 2019, uniting UCL’s 227 best undergraduate and postgraduate students to work across disciplines and problems.

 

5. Mention memberships

 

Make a list of all your academic and professional memberships, with dates and roles if they’re significant. If you’re performing an important role within those organisations, you could drop a few bullet points to explain that.

 

Example PhD CV—memberships

 

Memberships

 

  • Royal Institute of Philosophy
  • British Philosophical Association
  • Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics and Ethics

 

6. List conferences and presentations

 

Have you organised or chaired any sessions? Describe your experience. Did you produce any documents for conferences? Cite them in the same way you cite your publications. Don’t list everything you’ve ever been to, only the ones you took an active part in.

 

PhD CV examples—conferences

 

Conferences

 

  • Technology Fest 2019 — 2x 45 minute keynote speeches: ‘Do You Have a Right to Privacy?’; ‘What Do They Know?’

 

7. List some references

 

When listing references on your CV, check your institution’s info on how many PhD referees to provide, and whether they need to fulfill any criteria. List name, position, relation to you, institution address, and contact details.

 

It helps if they are somewhat known in your field of study, not to mention it would greatly pay off if you had a positive relationship with them.

 

Sample PhD CV—references

 

References

 

  • Academic Reference: Jim Hanson, Lecturer in Philosophy, MSc thesis supervisor, Department of Philosophy, University College London, Gower St, London, WC1E 6BTLSE, Houghton Street, jimhanson@ucl.ac.uk
  • Employment Reference: Tim Browning, Dean of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, University College London, Gower St, London, WC1E 6BTLSE, Houghton Street, timbrowning@ucl.ac.uk

 

8. Write a Captivating PhD Cover Letter 

 

Study the list of supporting documents thoroughly. There will probably be specialist essays, and you’ve got that on your own. PhD cover letters, if required, are usually much longer than the commercial ones, so check thoroughly.

 

But you can still apply our principles of the ‘How to Start a Cover Letter’ and ‘How to End a Cover Letter’ guides. Hooking them in and then slowly revealing the whole picture that just reassures them their first instinct was right is crucial.

 

9. Keep This in Mind When Writing a CV for PhD applications

 

You would be surprised at how many PhD CVs reach schools with errors and mistakes. These documents can be long and tedious, therefore hard to proofread. Follow our CV format guidelines:

  • Study the list of expected supporting documents and their specifications thoroughly.
  • If you’re unsure, find someone who has done the course! Forums such as The Student Room can be helpful.
  • For a neat CV layout, make clear headings for each CV section to help the reader navigate and find exactly what they need.
  • Choose a legible, conservative CV font, like Calibri or Arial. Don’t go smaller than 10.
  • Use a simple CV template without fancy graphics to enhance readability. You might consider LaTeX CV templates if you're familiar with the tool.
  • Unless asked otherwise, save your PhD CV as a PDF to protect the formatting.

 

Good luck!

  

You don’t have to be a CV writing expert. In the LiveCareer CV builder you’ll find ready-made content for every industry and position, which you can then add with a single click.

 

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Does that answer all your questions on how to write a PhD CV? Did you find our PhD CV examples helpful? If you’ve got any questions, please use the comments section below. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

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