Literature phd - what does it involve day to day?

(2 Posts)
AuroraFloyd Thu 18-Oct-18 21:15:58

I'm an English teacher with a masters in literature and I've always wanted to do a phd. I have some ideas but I'm not sure how to organise them into a proposal - still figuring that out.

What I want to know though, is what do you do each day? How much of your time is research and how much is other things? Do you have to teach? (I'd love to teach at university level blush)

If I go for it I would not be able to continue teaching full time (I have my own children too to think about), but would supply work be doable around the work involved in a phd?

OP’s posts: |
LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 19-Oct-18 15:04:01

You can do a part-time PhD, though I think it's quite a slog. I think teaching supply around a full-time PhD would be possible but hard work.

I finished my PhD in 2014. Most of your time is quite solitary - I'd meet my supervisors every few weeks (usually something like 8 week gaps, but sometimes longer if I wanted more time; sometimes less long). So day to day I'd be in libraries or at home working on a chapter. You'll need decent library access, though increasingly a lot can be done online. Depending on the kind of subject you choose, you may need to do some research trips (for example, looking at handwritten manuscripts in specific libraries).

What complicates this is thinking what you want to do next. I wanted to get into academia, so I needed to attend conferences and teach and try to publish, alongside writing my thesis. If you plan to go back to school teaching afterwards, you might not want to do those things and you would then have more time to work on the thesis or do supply teaching. If you're more conscientious than me, you might also do other kinds of CV-related things to help you get into academia, such as getting involved with the running of an academic journal, or with teaching groups in your university, or with funded projects. I'd also say, getting a job in academia is really horrifically hard at the moment!

But, no, you don't have to teach. Some universities will really need teachers and may really hope you will (but you can always say no!). Others may have very little teaching to give, and you may actually find it tricky to get some.

It's quite usual to get in touch with a prospective supervisor to discuss a proposal, btw. You probably want to do some work drafting it up into something you can discuss, but often a supervisor will talk to you about a possible proposal before it's formally submitted. Certainly I don't think anyone would object to a polite email asking if they'd be interested in supervising you for this or that topic, though they may have to say no or they may simply ask you to get in touch with admissions anyway.

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