Can you tell me, when did you complete your PhD, how many years did it take and roughly how old were you when you started?
Um, I completed it in January 2004; it took er three years and a term. Um when I started I must have been about 25, I think.
Did you do the bulk of it full-time or part-time?
Full-time apart from the last term which was tidying bits off which was kind of part-time.
And you were working at the same time as tying it off?
And how did you fund your study?
Um, I got a grant for the AHRB for three years of doing it.
And did you work beforehand?
Part-time jobs, yes, and I had a year out after university where I worked in a sandwich shop in London. I did my undergraduate degree in, when was it? It must have been 1997; totally had enough of university exams etc. so I decided that I was going to join the police; joined the police, didn't make the graduate scheme, absolutely hated it, lasted about six weeks, um decided it wasn't for me so took the rest of that year out and applied for a masters, got the funding for that, and in the mean time, until the masters started the following year, I just worked in a sandwich shop and worked my way up to kind of a team-leader in the middle of central London.
How did you make the decision to go into the police force?
It's actually related to an individual incident: I was mugged in my third year at university and the police that were involved with that dealed with it really well and I was thinking about careers and I thought 'that looks interesting, diverse, exciting, its not in an office' so I thought it looked really exciting, so.
And did you enjoy the selection process or any part of your first weeks?
The selection process was alright although, because I was trying to do my finals at the time, I didn't take any notice of revising for the psychometric testing and the maths test and as a result I failed the maths test which meant that I didn't get on the graduate scheme which meant that when I did join I found it all a bit basic, almost patronising, hence one reason for leaving.
And have you got any regrets about leaving the police force?
Absolutely not. No, not at all.
Did it equip you with anything you found useful subsequently?
Um, I suppose it gives you skills for how to handle people generally but I was there for such a short space of time I don't think I really got anything massive from it, I just learnt that there's lots of different people out there and my views of the police, that it would be an exciting adventure, because your actually dealing with the worst two percent of society if you like, it's not as rewarding as I though it would be. So I left the police, applied for an MA which started the following September and in the meantime I just went to a sandwich shop, quite a well know sandwich shop in London, just as a normal sandwich maker, which was full of students, had a fantastic time, worked there for a year and kind of worked my way up, was kind of offered management which I didn't want to do, then went back to university to do the MA.
And what was your MA in?
Er my MA was in high Churchman 1714-1760 from what I can remember.
And so your undergraduate degree was in history?
Yeah, er history kind of specialising in the early modern stuff.
How did you reach the decision that you wanted to undertake a PhD?
Um I did the masters, one year masters which I think is invaluable because you see other people who go straight from the degree to the PhD and have really struggled whereas the one year Masters give you an experience of what it's like. So I did that I love the University lifestyle, found it quite interesting so thought you know I'll apply and if I get funding then I might as well stay.
Were there any significant obstacles that you had to overcome in order to embark on the PhD?
Um some people said oh it will close down doors when you look for a job and oh it's very specialised and you know perhaps should go straight into work and stuff but I haven't found that's happened at all, if anything it's been the opposite.