Posted by: vikingsinspace | February 20, 2012

III.05. Get a PhD

Date Accomplished: 1 July 2011

This is probably the big item for category III of my list. While publishing a book or having a steady job in Academia might now appear to be more important goals for me, neither of those could be considered until I have completed III.05: Getting a PhD.

My Doctoral Thesis

In a sense, I’m lucky that I was able to get this done so quickly.  After completing my Masters, I applied for funding to continue with a PhD, but did not receive any.  Knowing I couldn’t afford to pay for a PhD I was preparing to do something else until I could come back to it.  Apparently I was the next in line to receive funding from the body I applied to, because one of the persons who received the money dropped out, and I was given that grant in his/her place.

It was a fantastic three-year experience.  Being able to just wake up every day, go to the library or my desk at the History Department to study the Middle Ages was like a dream.  My thesis was on Military Obligation in the areas of Norman Control (England, Normandy, Southern Italy/Sicily and the Crusader State of Antioch) in the twelfth century.  While it turned into being primarily focused on England and Southern Italy, I still managed to touch on Normandy and Antioch a little bit (and if you’re really interested, I’m sure you can find an electronic copy out on the web if you search for the title: “Servicium Debitum and Scutage in Twelfth Century England with Comparisons to the Regno of Southern Italy”)

Myself and the other Doctoral Graduands in History

While the actual research and writing portion of my doctorate was the simple part, the most harrowing was the defence of my thesis, or the Viva.  I had my viva on 8 October, 2010 and I was pretty sure I was going to pass because my examiners had only left about an hour to an hour and a half for the viva to take place.  Sure enough, my external examiner said right away that I had passed, but this failed to bring much relief.  (As an aside, my supervisor was the external examiner for MY external examiner when he had his viva.  My supervisor had told me that he told my examiner from the beginning that he had passed, and thought he would do just the same for me – which he did).  Even though I knew I had passed, the viva was still terrifying.  Having to defend my work from such intense scrutiny was difficult and nerve-wracking, but I knew it was something that I had to do.

I escaped the viva with only minor corrections which I was able to get done in a week.  My degree was conferred to me on 5 January 2011, and arrived in the mail on 22 February 2011.  I could say at this point that I had achieved this goal, but I decided the end point for this was going to be my graduation ceremony.

Myself and the Chancellor, Bill Bryson

As it is shown at the top of this post, my ceremony took place on 1 July 2011.  I did my degree in England, and was fortunate to have my immediate family fly out for the occasion.  It was a little strange going back to England after having been in the States since November, but the strangeness wasn’t in being there, it was that being there didn’t feel strange.  I received my degree and celebrated with my family and some of my close friends in England.

And that’s it.  I’m now a Doctor.  Just don’t trust me with a stethoscope.

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