The home stretch


in Daily updates, Oxford, Writing

Passageway beside the Ashmolean

Right now, I feel both as though I am on the final stretch of the M.Phil and that I am still less than halfway through the single most important item: the thesis that stalks me down Oxford’s cobbled streets. Now that I have a schedule set, the first order of business is prioritizing the reading that I should do in the remaining time. The second is to get the thing written. I will feel a lot better about the whole process once I have submitted and discussed one draft chapter: at present, I don’t particularly feel as though I know what I am doing. Once I have intuitively accepted that this project is not enormously more difficult than others that I would now brush off, it will come together quickly. Thinking about it as five or six long papers on related themes is one way to make the whole assembly seem less daunting, though it is important for them to be tightly integrated.

Aside from the thesis, all I have left are two papers for international law (both of which can probably be made highly thesis related) and four three-hour exams. Two of those are on the core seminars from last year: history and IR theory. The other two are on the optional papers from this year: the developing world and international law. There is good reason to be concerned about all of them – the two core seminars from first year aren’t exactly sharp in my mind, and the two optional papers cover a lot of material. That said, there is only so much information you can transfer from mind to paper in three hours. Likewise, while you do need to know a good amount of stuff to do well on Oxford exams, the way in which you approach and answer the questions seems to make all the difference between a tolerable grade and a really good one.

Parallel to all of this is the lingering and difficult project of finding something worthwhile to do after this. I have three basic objectives: finding a job that will (a) increase my knowledge and experience, (b) make me at least financially neutral, no longer going deeper into debt, and (c) not make people say: “So you did an M.Phil at Oxford and then you did… that.” This is the sort of project that you would be expect to be easier than finishing the degree itself, but it’s a matter of comparative advantages. With five months until I leave Oxford, the clock is ticking.

PS. New difficulties have arisen, with regards to the submission of the fish paper to the MIT International Review. If three specific things can be dealt with, it should be published within the next few months. If not, I may need to start hunting for yet another journal in which to try and get it printed.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous January 27, 2007 at 5:16 pm

On the job hunt…

If you’re not set on remaining in England, the UBC Careers Service might be more useful to you than the Oxford one.

Anonymous January 27, 2007 at 7:20 pm


Six terms * eight weeks each = forty-eight weeks

Six weeks in Hilary + eight in Trinity = fourteen weeks

Fourteen / fourty-eight * 100 = 29%

Hardly ‘the home strech,’ is it?

Milan January 27, 2007 at 9:43 pm

I’ve applied to the Richard Casement internship before. I will do so again this year. Working for The Economist would be excellent.

R.K. January 27, 2007 at 9:20 pm

Looking for a job?

We invite applications for the 2007 Richard Casement internship. This is for a would-be journalist to spend three months of the summer working on the newspaper in London, writing about science and technology. Our aim is more to discover writing talent in a science student or scientist than scientific aptitude in a budding journalist. Applicants should write a letter introducing themselves, along with an original article of about 600 words that they think would be suitable for publication in the Science and technology section. They should be prepared to come for an interview in London or New York, at their own expense, but a small stipend will be paid to the successful candidate. Applications must reach us by February 22nd. They should be sent by e-mail to

Milan January 28, 2007 at 10:59 pm

RE: MIT International Review,

It seems like it will be possible to sort things out, though the paper will apparently be published such that references are only available upon request.

Milan January 29, 2007 at 11:54 am

“Friday, 29 June 2007 is scheduled for vivas, if any.
This is not set in stone yet, but a good guide for when the examinations
process should be concluded.”

Anonymous February 3, 2007 at 6:53 pm

This may help, re: the Casement internship

How to report scientific research to a general audience

1. Find interesting research
2. Show why it’s interesting first
3. Let the research speak for itself
4. Don’t include details that are only relevant to scientists
5. Don’t use scientific jargon
6. Tell a story
7. Visuals need the same treatment as words
8. Keep it concise
9. Cite your sources
10. Don’t overstate your case
11. Have fun!

Milan February 18, 2007 at 5:34 pm

The David Suzuki Foundation says that it is not hiring, but I sent them an email asking to be contacted if that changes. I also asked if they knew of similar organizations that might be seeking staff.

Anon February 26, 2007 at 4:38 pm

People visiting this site looking for information on the Casement internship may want to have a look at Milan’s 2007 submission, which he has posted on this site.

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