3. So which criteria is the easiest to satisfy?
First of all, it is important to keep in mind that your application truly does depend on your circumstances. However, the easiest way for your application to fail is by choosing the wrong criteria/ route. In terms of criteria, the best combination for either route is to fulfil ‘key’ criterion number 1 and ‘qualifying’ criteria numbers 2 & 3.
A common mistake includes choosing to fulfil ‘key’ criterion number 2. As it is difficult to prove that you have gone beyond what is asked of you in your regular employment and also proving that the work you did do, really did contribute towards the advancement of the entire sector. In order to fulfil such a criterion would mean you were ideally an exceptional PhD candidate. Another common mistake is to try to pursue ‘Qualifying’ criteria number 4, again, as the ideal applicant, you would need to be an exceptional PhD candidate.
Please note that you do not need to rule out these criteria completely but understand that the are typically harder to prove and could delay your application process if you fail to comply with them.