Most people in the program seem to be eyeing the thesis with a mixture of apprehension and regret. The difficulties of making an original contribution to an academic discipline are not to be underestimated. On the one hand, you can opt to find a distinct gap in the existing literature and fill it. The first problem with that is that you need to know the existing literature well. Secondly, you risk being pre-empted by someone else. Thirdly, it may not be a terribly interesting task to mechanically fill in a box that has essentially been defined by someone else.
An ambitious lot, most people in the program seem set on answering a big question. The biggest (like mine) are more a nebulous question-territory than a question itself. For this approach, the most demanding task is the generation of a precise question and an interesting argument. Everything beyond that is just argumentation and commentary, requiring effort but little vision.
Vision, indeed, is that essential commodity that everyone is seeking: whether in the pages of academic journals or those of novels, whether in the libraries of Oxford or the internship cubicles that line the corridors of power. May each of them find it, and thus have one more highly worthwhile achievement to file under the heading of ‘the Oxford M.Phil.’