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Nick - the meaning of the PhD
Name: Nick
PhD discipline: English Literature
Area(s) of work: civil service; tax consultant; accountancy; film and fiction writing, university teaching
Year of graduation: 1995
Date of Interview: 29/05/2008

Now Playing: Nick - the meaning of the PhD
Nick explores the range of meanings the PhD has for him and for others in his life.

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What, to you, is the value of your PhD?

It opens up the world. Even though my PhD is in a very narrow field, in the 18th century, in actual fact it opens your ability to open up areas of enquiry that hitherto were closed. And it doesn't matter whether you're reading Frederick Jameson or Hegel or whatever you learn to open up areas of enquiry. You go into Hegel and think 'I haven't got a clue what's going on here' but you know how to go back and how to really look at it and to think about it. And it teaches you how to think.

Have you encountered anyone else's misconceptions about PhD?

Yes! All the time. Far too many people think they've done a PhD and they've arrived. And in actual fact all they've got is a very small amount of knowledge in a very small field and it's the smallest thing they can do. One of my own tutors - he was in the viva - he wasn't my tutor, he was the internal examiner in the Viva, and he said something very, very important to me. He said 'now that you've passed your viva do remember this is just a start. He said 'this is not the book, it's just a PhD, you've only just begun. And I do this for my students as well my PhD students – it's only the start.

What about people outside of academia when they know that you're a doctor or a professor now?

Well it works two different kinds of ways. I rarely tell anybody to be honest - I'm not a person who wears badges. I prefer to be called by my first name. And it doesn't really mean anything except its good to have it on your credit card and on your bank statement when you're booking seats on aeroplanes (laughs). When people are going to be disrespectful to you then it's the only time I ever – I would say 90% of people I encounter in my life don't know.

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