Thursday, October 06, 2005

First week nerves

What a week - and it's only just half over. A quick break and then it'll be back to the coalface of library study.

So what does the first week of a PhD look like? Well, it starts Monday morning at 10am with more than 20-odd students filling up a classroom designed for less than 15. It consists of the PhD advisor saying the following: "Until now your academic career has been relatively structured. Even your Masters course was quite organised. That all ends now. Any questions?"

Yes. Just the one: where the exit?!

But seriously: the session was less than the allotted two hours and involved a rundown on what is expected from us over the next year. The first term will consist of Government Department academics making brief presentations on themselves and their work and the main themes in political science and theory will be covered. The second and third terms will involve us making presentations on our own work and gaining feedback. And the last thing we were told? "Start reading now. And the sooner you start writing the better."

Which brings me up to the second PhD-level seminar that I attended this afternoon: comparative politics. Although technically for second and third year students, first years can attend - although we may well be observers in the first part of the year. Still, it looks quite interesting, especially when entertaining the possibilities presented by John Siedel, the provider. We have as much freedom as we want with the seminar, so it may well become an eclectic mix of presentations of others' work, a reading group on methodology and other comparative literature, a discussion group with eminent names and other students on broader themes.

But I'm nowhere near being ready to present my own work! Give me a few months though...

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