The Upgrading (from MPhil to PhD)

My friend Dora is a Distance Learning student in our School at the University of Leicester; writing her PhD on Hellenistic Gymnasia. Today is her upgrading from MPhil to PhD. She will meet the committee around 10, when, hopefully, they will acknowledge her superior knowledge of the Hellenistic period and her innovative ideas on the development of the Institution of Gymnasia. I am confident that she will pass with flying colours.

Dora’s self confidence, on the other hand, is non existent. Since months ago she has been bombarding me with the same question over and over and over again: What if they ask me something I do not know? Fair enough! Since we are only mortals, our knowledge of the world is limited. With regard to Hellenistic Gymnasia, though, Dora is an undisputed expert, since she has been gathering the ancient sources and has been reading relevant books and article for the past five years (long before she enrolled for the PhD). Even if some unlikely fact may have escaped her, she still has an excellent overview of the subject.

The role of the Upgrading Committee is not to check all the facts about the topic. Instead, they are there to ensure that: a) the main hypothesis is reasonable, b) the argument flows without hindrance, c) there are no logical leaps in the sequence of statements, d) the methodology is valid, e) the material is adequate, f) the theoretical model explains ancient developments and structures and, last but not least, g) the thoughts are original. Even if one of the above is problematic, Dora will still have three months at her disposal to make some corrections and resubmit her MPhil research.

All in all, no student should be fearful of the Upgrading. This is an amazing opportunity to discuss the PhD topic with professional ancient historians who can give valuable advice and direction. If Dora takes into account their suggestions and reorganises her research, her future success will be assured.

Economic historian and numismatic consultant

1 Comment

  1. The Upgrading is supposed to be a “discussion” not an examination. However, nonody has explained to me how some people have failed the Upgrading. How can anyone fail a discussion? Weren’t they… talkative enough?

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