Tuesday, 17 March 2015

So Help Me I'm Turning Into My Mother...

It started with an innocent visit, and ended with me resolved to do a PhD.
For my Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (PGCLTHE), I needed to observe a member of staff, preferably from a different department to the one I work in. The ELT unit is actually in the Business, Law and Sport faculty, so I decided to pay my old dissertation lecturer – Gary – a visit.

After agreeing to let me observe one of his lessons, we got chatting about Masters’ programmes. I’d been looking but hadn’t found one which matched my interests of eugenics and literature – there were courses on 19th century literature, 19th century studies, etc, but nothing that piqued my interest. So Gary suggested doing a research project (code for PhD).

Had I been thinking about it? Yes. Did Gary think I could do it? Yes.

Then, the deciding factor. Gary offered to be my supervisor. Yessss!

I came away with a renewed focus and sense of purpose. I’d finish teaching on Winter School then see Gary again to discuss the possibility of me doing a PhD.

I sent a text to my mum, saying I was thinking about a PhD and that Gary had said he’d supervise me. I knew she was excited because she replied straightaway with a line of smiley faces. I told her not to get too excited as I needed to think about it. She followed that up with a sad face. Hmmm.

When I got home, Mum ushered my Dad and Maxx into the living room. I was sat on the floor, fussing Claus, when I realised I’d been surrounded. They were like sharks. What followed was 10 minutes of insistence that I do a PhD, and me fretting about the financial side and whether I was capable. Maxx later told me that Mum had instructed them both to convince me to do it.

At the next meeting, Gary asked me if I’d thought anymore about it. I told him I wanted to do it and we discussed the ideas I had.

The following day I saw an interesting post on the University portal: “University offers 10 fully-funded research studentships for 175th anniversary”. Well – fully funded, with a maintenance grant, and £500pa of research expenses.

The downside: the deadline was in 3 weeks.

What followed was an intense period of studying, stressing, writing, rewriting and thinking. There was so much to do. How could I write a literature review of the field with only 3 weeks to research? How could I turn my thoughts and ideas about eugenics and literature into a proposal that could compete with other students’ proposals? Which research method was I going to use? What even is a research method?

I handed it in on Friday 13th March. Unlucky for some, hopefully lucky for me. I won’t find out until May whether I’ve been shortlisted for interview, so until then I’ll just have to sit tight and focus on finishing my PGCLTHE.

So help me I'm turning into my mother. Soon I'll have as many qualifications as she does!

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