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Caroline - background to the PhD
Name: Caroline
PhD discipline: English Literature
Area(s) of work: University teaching; media; business (property management)
Year of graduation: 2001
Date of Interview: 24/06/2008

Now Playing: Caroline - background to the PhD
Caroline describes how, as a mature student with broad life experience, she came to embark on a PhD.

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Can you tell me when you completed your PhD and how many years it took?

I completed it in 2001. It was seven and a half years which takes me up to graduation, or seven years to actually write the thesis.

And how old were you when you started?


And did you do the bulk of your PhD full time or part time?


Part-time throughout?

Apart from about 18 months when I decided to stop teaching and focus on writing chapters because I was really losing the thread doing it part time so the bulk of it was part time.

And how did you fund your study?

By teaching.

You didn't get any supplementary support?

No. The two institutions where I taught were both quite sympathetic to lecturers going to conferences and studying so although the wages were not wonderful there was an expectation that you would be studying and if so your fees would be paid for that year so part of the package I suppose. When I embarked on the PhD I was just coming to the end of a teaching position in Papua New Guinea and I did apply for sponsorship but I think I didn't fit their profile. Wrong gender, wrong age basically and so I decided I would go independent.

Can you tell me about your career before you embarked on the PhD?

I had taught for a number of years in further and higher education teaching literature communication type subjects, largely in Australia and the Pacific Islands. Prior to that I had taught in Zimbabwe but that was when I was straight out of university. There was a civil war going on and so I taught whatever subjects I was asked to teach so it was kindergarten and French. I had embarked on an MA from one of the Australian universities in literature focusing on Pacific literature and I found it totally fascinating partly because it was bringing in some ideas of literary theory which was starting to make sense of my own very international migrating kind of life and I thought this is really very valuable and quite exciting and so when my, my MA supervisor went over to London for a sabbatical of six months at one point and so my supervision was taken over by one of the professors in the English department and at one point during a conversation he said something which indicated that he was assuming that of course I would continue to do a doctoral study. This was not something that I had thought of cos I didn't really think that I had the ability to do that and I was finding the MA studies quite taxing but this supervisor with whom I actually got on better than my main supervisor I suppose opened up an idea in my head and I thought well. So being very international I applied to British, Australian, Canadian and American universities and this is 1993. We came over here in the summer of '93 to visit my parents and help them move house and I had preliminary conversations with several British universities while I was here. I had already been offered supervision at the university where I was finishing my MA and also another Australian university but I was I suppose feeling a bit homesick for Britain and at that stage our children were quite young and my husband was starting a new business which he could do anywhere, media, and so we decided that we would really try hard for a British university. So the first year of doctoral supervision I was doing the last year of my teaching contract in the Pacific and sending reading reports to my doctoral supervisor here once a month. We would either fax or air mail back and forth and then I came over for two and a half weeks of meetings in the summer and then at the end of that year my husband and I had completed our contract in the Pacific and so we packed up with the two children and came over to England really as a self sponsored student at that point and then we had to look around to see what employment we could find and I quite quickly picked up other lecturing.
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