MA and PhD progress

Thanks to the people who commented on my previous post about not getting into Oxford. I’ve written to the head of student administration about the way my application was handled, so perhaps s/he will do something about it, though I doubt anything will change as a result. I did manage to get some feedback on my application, although it was rather vague. The two main sticking points were me not getting a first (I always knew that might be a problem for Oxford) and insufficient evidence of independent work—obviously running a business for six years doesn’t count for much in academia. However, I have heard a bit more from Manchester about the PhD in computer science—I thought this was dead in the water but apparently it might not be. So far things are sounding promising but I’m still looking ahead with the expectation that I will have to join the ranks of the full time employed come September.

My dissertation is also moving forward a bit more now, and I’ve worked out that writing 500 words a day on average (which isn’t much really—I got 700 done on Saturday) will mean that I will finish with about two weeks to spare in which to thoroughly proof-read the whole thing and get it bound according to the University’s specifications. The Faculty of Arts is useless in that it provides a huge list of requirements as to how to the dissertation must be laid out (including 1.5 or double spacing, which looks hideous), but doesn’t bother to provide a template which would take care of this. Thankfully Computer Science provides a LaTeX template which, with a bit of tweaking from me, provides the layout, as well as some amusing comments from the original author about how people who insist on double spacing will be first against the wall when the revolution comes. 🙂

I hope I’m going in the right direction with my dissertation though, as I’ve only had one meeting with my supervisor and he’s not back until Friday. I’m currently aiming to write a detailed description of the Roman army of the late republic, including a commentary on the primary sources (especially Livy, who people seem to think is a storyteller rather than a historian, but what he writes is probably useful for my work), and then moving on to look at how this differs in computer games and why particular elements are represented in the way they are. Unfortunately I’ve discovered that I can’t get a merit for my MA, because one of the requirements is to obtain over 50% in all modules, and as I failed to do this for Latin I will only get a pass, despite the fact that my overall average will be over 60% if I do as well in my dissertation as I did in my two essays.