Should British Universities abolish PhDs in Theatre Studies? Seeking opinions from potential PhDs

This week I am finishing a piece of writing for The Stage with a working title of “Should British Universities abolish PhDs in Theatre Studies?” The title is intentionally provocative and is devised in response to an article that was published in The Chronicle of Higher Education in America earlier this year. Written by a disenfranchised PhD in Theatre, this article attacked the PhD qualification as being worthless in the context of a shrinking American academic job market.

Now I don’t think that anyone should embark on a PhD in a humanities subject with the expectation that there will be a job at the end of it . Yet I do think that the article raises a number of important issues about funding and teaching that we seem afraid to discuss within the UK system at present.

I will interrogate this in much more detail in The Stage, but in the meantime I’m keen to hear something from potential PhD students could help to inform my article.

I know from discussions I have had with many of my peers that the number of potential students who aspire to do a PhD in the Humanities is still high. My sense is that lots of these bright and well-qualified candidates might be hampered by the lack of financial support available going forwards. At the same time, I know for sure that lots of these candidates will bravely battle on and fund themselves via other means.

If you are an aspiring PhD Student in the humanities, or you are in the first or second year of your PhD in a humanities subject, I am asking you to take this quick survey. The results will help me to get a clearer picture of the motivations of candidates who still want to study for a PhD over the next five years, even though fees are rising and funding is drying up. You can also send me an email or leave a comment if you have more to add, I would love to hear from you.

As many of you who are reading this will know, I’ve been chasing funding for a PhD in Performance Studies for a couple of years now. I’m not going to give up looking and there are still some avenues for me to pursue. Yet it is frustrating to know that if I had been ready to apply five years ago, I would have stood a much better chance of coming up trumps. So many of my peers are in a similar situation and its really important to me that we start a realistic debate about how the changing economic climate and the notion of eduction as a consumer market is impacting on the academic environment.

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