It’s hard to believe I’ve reached the halfway point in my studies in the PhD in Creative Writing program at Lancaster University. My first year review was in September, and now the next milestone is the confirmation panel. In the words of the Postgraduate Handbook, this means:
“At Lancaster, all research students are registered for a Preliminary PhD (MPhil) in the first instance, and will only be confirmed as a PhD if their project shows sufficient breadth, depth and originality. If the project fails to show these qualities the student will be entered for an MPhil qualification. On this point, we would like to emphasise that an MPhil is a substantial and important research qualification in its own right, and that students should not regard it as a failed PhD. Some topics are better suited to this qualification.
For the confirmation panel you are required to submit a portfolio of work to be agreed with yourself and your supervisor. The work must be substantial enough for us to get a clear picture of your progress to date and for the panel to be convinced that it can be completed as a PhD in the time remaining.”
My confirmation panel is scheduled for May 7. It will be held over Skype (what would we do without Skype?) and the members of the panel are two professors from the English & Creative Writing Department. My supervisor will sit in and take notes, but he won’t participate. This time, I have to have quite a lot of work assembled for their review in advance. Quite a lot of work. To wit:
- Revised PhD abstract – a one-page summary of the research, its methods and its ‘original contribution to knowledge’ (max 300 words)
- Revised PhD proposal, including revised research questions
- A sample of creative work up to 30,000 words (prose) or equivalent (up to 20 poems)
- A sample of reflective writing of approximately 5,000 words
- A chapter plan of the reflective thesis
- Sample pages from the Learning Log
- A bibliography
- A progress report on the research process
At the moment (the first week in March) I have 22,000 words of the novel and about 1200 words of the thesis completed and in some state of revision. So I am going to be busy over the next month.
In fact, I may need to move the next Mysterious Devices novel to summer instead of spring in order to give myself the writing hours to devote to this. Gulp. Readers, I hope you understand!