Well it’s (pretty well) all over. What a journey, and what a day last Wednesday was.
I headed up to Lancaster on Tuesday afternoon, and stayed at the on-campus hotel. I’d stayed here several times in the last four years, partly in an attempt to familiarise myself with the place so I would feel comfortable come the big day. I can’t recommend sitting in an outdoor hot tub highly enough for relaxation. I pottered between reading through my PhD, listening to music and a very modest drink and meal in the bar. Given how nervous I was it’s not surprising I didn’t sleep brilliantly, but I did sleep OK.
Wednesday, and after a swim and bread-free breakfast (no carbs to slow me down), a final read through and then coffee on campus. I still arrived an hour early, apparently the internal and external examiners had been chatting for an hour and there was another hour of waiting. I would have much preferred a 10:00am viva, but of course individuals have to travel. I had a pre-meeting with my supervisor too, which should have relaxed me a little, but didn’t.
At about 1:00 I was called in, the two externals, my supervisor, and a chair too… because my examiners were considered inexperienced it’s University regulations that there has to be a chair. So four, plus myself.
The viva itself was a shade over two hours, this seems to be a long time in comparison to others in my cohort. There was no preamble, and I’m afraid that not one of the viva cards questions came up. They were all very specific, and focused on my thesis, chapter by chapter and in the case of one external, page by page the questions were asked. Towards the end I was starting to flag a little, and one question in particular seemed to be worded in a very strange way. Coming out of the viva, my supervisor and I had very different views, he felt it had been ‘easy’, I would rather have dental work without effective anaesthetic (again) than go through that.
Then the wait….. and the wait…..
When called back in, I really didn’t know how it had gone, and it did take some time to register that they were indeed saying that I had passed. There are amendments, in four different areas, and one of them may be significant, but I’m awaiting the final report. I did scrawl some notes on what was required, but they are a blur to me now.
You’ve seen the celebration pictures in the previous post, and good wishes came through social media and texts all the way home (I wasn’t driving). The (slightly) official announcement is here too.
So, I have to make changes in time for the December graduation, and sort some logistics out there. But before then I’m really hoping to get a long-deserved holiday in. Whether I do or not is out of my hands though, as after the high of Wednesday I had some very bad news personally both on Thursday and Friday, along with some very long hospital visits. Very much a week of highs and lows.
So that’s it, four and a half years, around 30,000 words written in the first two years and 55,000 in the thesis. I’ll write another post about advice to prospective candidates, but I need to step a little away from the whole thing for a while (and do the amendments of course!).
As always, thanks to everyone who has supported me, both at Lancaster and across the world. It’s been one heck of a journey.