Upgrade process

Part 1 of this weeks PhD seminar focussed on the upgrade (or transfer) process that we have to go through, in my my case within 24 months – by September 2012. The discussion started with brief introductions and one-line description of our research (there were two new students to be introduced) which which led into an illustration of the need to eventually be able to define research concisely and clearly. At present, my one line was quite long and in very broad terms – clearly a little more definition is needed but I am confident that will come with a bit more work.

The transfer is a formal requirement, embedded in University structure and somewhat “out of the hands” of ICS staff. It is a serious (and scary) part of the PhD process and decides whether the PhD goes ahead  or not. The process reflects the viva in that a document (in this case 10,000words)  is prepared and examined and then the candidate meets a board of examiners in order to be questioned. The panel is looking for a project that looks like a PhD:

  • Original
  • Substantial
  • Feasible
  • with a capable candidate

There are four possible outcomes from the meeting with the board:

  • The PhD proceeds (and will therefore almost certainly be a success)
  • The document is given back for revisions (not an uncommon outcome)
  • An MPhil is recommended instead of PhD as the project lacks something
  • The board recommends that the candidate withdraw

The first year (or possibly up to 2 in my case) can be an unsettling time of constant change as the candidate builds up to the transfer, attempting to develop, narrow and finalise research questions and decide upon a title. I have the added complexity of a part time teaching job with its own unsettling characteristics – learning about the university teaching environment, producing materials, supervising students and learning to teach via the ULTA-2. However, this has a positive side as half of my time can be used to escape from the PhD and concentrate on other issues, returning to research questions and titles in a better frame of mind. I am keen to not take six years over this PhD, even with the teaching responsibilities and at this point it seems that the part time approach may actually be something of a help to productivity, even if it does cut down the amount of hours I can spend researching and writing. Whether I keep that opinion when closer to deadlines for the transfer is yet to be seen…


About birchallchris

Research Associate in the School of Media and Communication, University of Leeds, teaching digital media practice and theory to students on the BA/MA New/Digital Media programmes. I research digital citizenship, using innovative digital methods; trying to bridge the gap between vary large scale phenomena and the individual human.
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