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Sophie - background to the PhD
Name: Sophie
PhD discipline: French
Area(s) of work: Parliament; civil service
Year of graduation: 2004
Date of Interview: 03/06/2008

Now Playing: Sophie - background to the PhD
Sophie talks about her transitions into and out of her PhD, and the factors that influenced her decisions.

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When did you complete your PhD? How many years did it take and what was it in?

The PhD was in French literature, the eighteenth century novel and novelists that no one's ever heard of; quite similar to 'Dangerous Liaisons' type of writing. I did three years of it full-time and then I started working here about a day after my three year mark. I didn't actually submit the final thesis until about six months after that, although I completed a full draft before I started working here so the bulk of work was done.

And how old were you when you started?

I was, I guess I must have been twenty two because I did a four year degree and then a one year masters, twenty two or twenty three I can't remember exactly.

And how did you fund your study?

It was all funded, the first year of the PhD was funded by my university and then after that I got an ARHB, as it was, grant for the rest of it.

Did you work before you started your PhD?

Only student jobs in the holidays, not a proper job.

What kind of jobs did you do in the holidays?

I worked for a market research company because it happened to be located in the town where I grew up and they did research with companies abroad and people abroad so they needed French speakers. I did that and then I also worked in Cambridge between my masters and my PhD for a software company doing translation of their software into French and German.

Were there any significant obstacles that you had to overcome in order to embark on the PhD?

Well, getting the funding was the significant obstacle because I was entirely reliant on getting funding from a research council from the university because I don't have a particularly rich family and I didn't have any savings. If I hadn't have got the money to do it then I wouldn't have done it and it was as simple as that really. When I was finishing off my first degree I'd also actually applied to do a masters and a PhD in America on the recommendation of one of my tutors at the time because he thought, there was quite a lot of funding in America. I was also accepted on it but I always wanted to stay in England if I could because my boyfriend's here and all my friends are here. I didn't really want to go off to America on my own.

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