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Steven - reasons for doing a PhD
Name: Steven
PhD discipline: Philosophy
Area(s) of work: University administration (management)
Year of graduation: 1997
Date of Interview: 09/06/2008

Now Playing: Steven - reasons for doing a PhD
Steven explores his reasons for doing a PhD.

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Why did you want to do a PhD? 

That's an interesting question. It wasn't that I had a driving ambition to be an academic in any way or really it wasn't that there was –  the research in itself was a means to an end. I think it was a sense of personal, of wanting to gain this personal sense of achievement and actually being able to prove to myself that I could do this. I rather enjoyed being a student and I kept trying to get away from it but finding myself drawn back and I think it was the final challenge, the final hurdle of 'could I actually do the full research program and get a PhD'? And that was I think the driving motivation behind it.

Do you think that you hadn't achieved everything you'd wanted to through your undergraduate study and that this was the real acid test for you?

Yes, that's exactly it, yes, I think what I felt, well I've kind of reflected on this over a number of years and what it was, as an undergraduate you came away with a sort of package of awareness of your degree but in the real world you realise that it's rather limited in fact and has limited application. Then doing a masters degree you realise there's lot of things you don't know and it sort of opened up the way in which I was thinking about philosophy and it made it appear that there was just so much that I just didn't know. That it was almost inevitable that I wanted then to go on to really get to grips with something in a way that hadn't been possible up to that point – to really get to the intellectual core of something and challenge myself in that way by really sort of being just for one moment the person who knew the most about this one thing. So that was the challenge of it.

I was really quite keen finally to become master of one, at least one little bit, if I could just get a handle on one little bit and one area of research under my command then there would be a real sense of achievement and I feel somehow that there wasn't a, I could do it, there was a self-proving, self-validation process was part of it but also on a sort of really having a grip on just one bit of knowledge. Because it becomes clear as you're going through higher education, as you're sort of going through life really, that when you watch the television or read the newspaper, that's not knowledge, that's just a gloss of what the real details of life are actually like and I just thought it would be good just to kind of get one little bit where I could actually see underneath the surface for myself.

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