A significant part of the PhD process in the US involves deciding on and doing the background research for your project. Is it true that in the UK you basically get a predetermined project handed to you as you come in, and can skip the two years of trying to figure out what you're doing? That sounds like it would fit my needs better.

Are there any other differences between the two countries I should be aware of? In particular, grad school in the US is generally considered incredibly stressful and depressing and generally awful for your life balance and mental health - is the UK any better? Links to other information on the UK grad school experience would also be useful.

Background/goals: My field is bioinformatics (which may be a separate department or part of biology, I'm not sure, it probably depends). I currently have a BS from a very good US university plus several years of experience working in a lab (mostly doing analysis/programming/statistics for other people's projects). My future plans involve more of the same thing, not leading my own lab, so I don't feel like I need experience in coming up with a research project.

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