The Last Ascent to Delivering Your PhD: What it Really Feels Like

Susie Self

 

Imagine for a moment that you are at the point of submitting your PhD.

Like me you will make the trip to University House. In my case, that’s this week. I will be carrying three A3 portfolio boxes in an IKEA bag, my research after all is a practice-based affair. My friend said I should treat myself to a taxi from the station to lighten the load but no, I want to savour every step of the last moments of this part of the journey.

Receiving three funded years to devote exclusively to research is very rare in the lifetime of any artist. The experience of going deeper into my subject than I could have ever imagined is phenomenal. Provocative comments from supervisors facilitated truncated nights of sorties at 4.00am from bed to laptop. ‘I have to re-compose that scene right now!’. But it hasn’t been a strain, instead it’s been an amazing adventure. OK, there have been tough times: worries that the ethics committee might challenge my interactive practice (I got a glowing report), or breaking my arm in a bike accident en route to giving a lecture as a teaching assistant. However these incidents fade in comparison with the prize of creating a body of practice-led research: musical scores, performances, recordings, presentations and, the jewel in the crown, constructing the commentary.

The final ascent involved contextualising the research in concert with a tenacious academic supervisor, they are really good at facilitating this at BCU. At times I had to question the validity of my approach: oxygen gets thinner the higher you climb. However extreme elevation provides a powerful overview.

As you submit your PhD I hope like me you will experience fulfilment and relief!

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