I hold a BA in a language and area studies (history, politics, social science) and a PhD in political economy (touching on social science), both from British universities belonging to the (research-strong) Russell Group, and I have been outside of academia for many years.

What route might I take towards the goal of researching for a PhD, preferably again at a Russell Group institution in Britain, in canine psychology and behaviour?

(I have read the help file, and felt that giving details of the fields was necessary in order to make clear what I am asking. Advice that is not specific to these fields is very welcome, especially if the size of the gap between them is similar to the size in my case.)

  • See this question about doing 2 PhDs: academia.stackexchange.com/q/17232/49043 – astronat Jan 2 '18 at 19:22
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    Are those fields related in any way? Do you see some of your skills transferring? It seems like a longshot to me that you could even start over in graduate school in such dissimilar fields, but maybe it hinges on these two questions. – Jeff Jan 2 '18 at 19:54
  • There's only a small overlap, but my work outside of academia since I left overlaps a little more with one or two sub-areas within the target field. My question is about route. I think this is possible without doing another bachelor's degree. For example my qualifications easily exceed the requirements to start on the MSc in psychology at the Open University, which I think would open doors to doctoral studentships at some Russell Group institutions. – edd Jan 2 '18 at 20:29
  • Would it be sufficient to get a PhD in Psychology in which you study canines, or do you want a PhD specifically in "Canine Psychology and Behavior"? – Nat Mar 21 '18 at 0:57
  • Huh, apparently there's a "PhD in Psychology (Animal Behavior)". – Nat Mar 21 '18 at 0:59

Given that you already have a Ph.D., can you network with anyone to meet a mentor in this subfield? Their personal advice could help you figure out which formalities you can skip and what skills are essential. Do they see your work as providing transferable skills to their field? Would they recommend that you need more background in lab work, psychological theory, or something else?

While it's not normally a good idea for people to try to contact unknown professors merely to ask for help preparing for a later application, you've been socialized into the norms of academia (especially within the Russell Group) and may be able to do so in a targeted and effective manner.


One route would be to take a conversion (from scratch) master's degree in Psychology, such as the MSc in Psychological Sciences at University College London.

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