PhD Progress: Upgrade Completed and Plans for 2013

So I am now exactly half way through my PhD, or at least half way through the three years of funding. On December 14th I successfully upgraded and progress is very much on track. For those unfamiliar with the process of completing a doctorate, the upgrade is an exercise which has to be passed to enable continuation on the PhD programme. The exact process varies between institutions and subjects but I handed in a 20,000 word document with three thesis chapters: introduction, literature review and methodology which was examined/discussed in a meeting type setting. I didn’t need to show results and analysis but had initial results I could talk about. The upgrade felt like a milestone moment and gave me the opportunity to reflect on what I’ve achieved so far. It also gave me the opportunity to speak to another academic in the department and get lots of feedback for future ideas and development of the project.

This time last year I was struggling with my methodology and had been asked to go back and spend a few weeks reading up on the philosophy of knowledge and academic theory. This year has been a steep learning curve but I worked as hard as I could and am proud of what I’ve achieved. It was always going to be difficult moving from fashion to geography but I finally feel like I’m catching up. I’m now in the data collection phase which is super exciting; going out and talking to people (interviewing them). For every interview I’ve had at least one thing they say which jumps out at me and tells me it has been a worthwhile trip. Interviews will continue well into next year; I’ve done 11 so far but anticipate around 40, or until I reach ‘saturation’. On top of all the reading and writing (I think my Endnote reference library has reached 300 now) here are some of the things I did in 2012:

• Supervised the Amsterdam 2nd year undergrad. fieldtrip and couple of daytrips
• Presented a paper at the Green Economics Institute Conference in Oxford
• Teaching assistant for 2nd year undergrad. Critical Human Geographies module
• Set up the department twitter and contributed to the blog (
• Presented at the Grad. School Seminar Series and had a poster at the Grad. School Conference.

2013 is set to be just as busy. In the next three months alone I have data analysis training courses in Southampton and Cardiff, I’m going back on the Amsterdam fieldtrip, I’m presenting a poster at the RIBEN day in Oxford, I’m presenting a paper at the BSA ‘Intimacies, Families and Practices of Consumption’ conference, and I’m organising my own conference on ethical fashion! My goal for the year (and I don’t have any personal resolutions this year) is to get an academic paper published, or at the very least in review.

Content that I know what I’m doing and I don’t feel the need to prove myself anymore, I think 2013 will be a good year! There have been times when this PhD has had me in tears, but I’m past that point now of letting it get to me. Plus I have excellent supervisors and a great group of friends at uni so I’m still as excited about it all as much as I was when I started, maybe more so. I would recommend to anyone starting the New Year in a job they hate to do something about it. It is always possible to change direction with a positive attitude and bit of focus. Oh I have a mentee this year too! Yep, it’s going to be a busy one . . .

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From One Uni to Another

Yesterday was a very hectic day. It was the day that I officially started my PhD, and it was the day of Solent University’s fashion show in London. I started the day by popping into Solent (my old uni) to get my MPhil thesis bound for my viva, and then went up to the University of Southampton (my new uni) to have my PhD induction. I got shown my desk, introduced to people, had a tour of the campus and was told the all important regular Friday plans of cake and pub. I’m really looking forward to being surrounded by other research students and chatting ideas over.

From here I went up to London, and after picking up my sister’s birthday present, arrived at Solent’s fashion show which was held at the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. It is the first time that they have held a show in London (they are doing a Southampton show as well) and it was very cool! As guests arrived they were greeted by the sight of a live fashion shoot, with photography, styling and make up students all working together. Student portfolios were on display showing a selection of work from all of the fashion degree pathways. The fashion show made me proud to be a Solent graduate! Here are some of the pictures.

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New Year

Firstly, happy new year! I’ve been busy with work and family etc for the last couple of weeks, but should be getting back into things more now. Sadly, the year hasn’t got off to a good start with a death in the family and having a few days of illness, but I’m looking forward to 2011! There are two major goals for this year – one is to get a PhD studentship, two is to start my own small business – a lingerie fashion label (quality, ethical of course). If I have started one by the end of the year I’ll be super happy. I hope to continue my research into sustainability and work towards making a real difference to the world in some way. I think one of my key achievements for last year was boosting my confidence when it comes to public speaking, and that’s something I want to build on this year too. I will start each day saying ‘Today I will be the best I can be!’

Also, I want to share these pictures with you. I’m still cataloging needle work tools at the museum, and I came across these this week. The pictures don’t really do them justice, but they are delightful needle work boxes, one full of ivory bits and pieces, the other mother of pearl. They are from the 18th and 19th Century. This would have been a prize possession for the lady of the house and its lovely that they have survived as two sets.

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