Sunday, 7 March 2010
I have certainly learned enough about academic life here not to be surprised by anything, but it is still inetresting to note the differences. In the old country, when a PhD student chooses a topic it will be discussed with the supervisor and then registered at the department. At some point, the student will present the research plan at a seminar and get feedback from fellow students. Here, the poor soul has to write a 20.000-word report and go through a "viva", which means face-to-face interrogation by two examiners. The supervisor is allowed to sit in and keep her mouth shut. It is hard if the student is obviously giving a totally wrong answer and you boil inside saying mutely: "Haven't we discussed this ten times???". Anyway, my first student has just gone through this, and the examiners were very nice, and most of their questions were anticipated, and most of the comments valuable and formative. For me it was just as much a rite of passage as for the student.