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Status Reports - Status: Birkbeck (Spring 2008)

Research Students: End of Term report (student version)

Name of Student: Theo Todman (part-time)
Name of Supervisor: Jen Hornsby
Term: Spring 2008

  1. In what subject area were you scheduled to work? Thesis – Personal Identity.
  2. How many tutorials have you attended this term? Four. 4th & 18th February and 3rd and 17th March 2008.
  3. If you have attended less than the prescribed number (once every three weeks for a part-time student), what are the reasons for this? Not applicable.
  4. What work did you aim to complete during the term? My intention was to complete a draft chapter of my Thesis (Chapter 2 – “What are We1?”). I had produced a very detailed but (in retrospect) ridiculously optimistic plan for the achievement of this goal, but couldn’t stick to it. I did, however, complete a proportion of the preliminary work, which was reviewed in the supervisions.
  5. How many pre-submissions/chapters etc. are actually in hand as a result of the term’s supervisory work? The above Chapter is now in suspense, and I have moved on to Chapter 6, on Constitution. I intend to make some progress on this in the Summer term.
  6. Where the work scheduled isn't complete, please indicate how much more remains for you to do. The work I have done on either Chapter is mainly investigative – detailed analysis of research papers with my own comments. I have yet to find my own voice. There is a lot to do, mainly because I’ve only found about half the time I need to do in order to address the course properly.
  7. What general comments do you have to make on the overall development of your work? I have found it difficult to adapt to part-time research, and no longer think I can continue in this vein. I intend to cease the course at the end of this year, and re-apply for full-time study in a couple of years’ time after I have retired from paid employment.
  8. Do you have any particular comments that you would like to make to the Graduate Standing Committee concerning your supervision this term? The reasons for the above decision are as follows:-
    • I have found it more difficult continually to pick up and put down research than I had done in the past with short topics.
    • Additionally, research is more in the category of “work” than undergraduate study, which I would classify as “fun”. Consequently, in the interests of psychological balance, I’ve been tempted into numerous other pursuits that have taken time away from my research.
    • Hence research has proved more difficult for me to pursue wholeheartedly as a part time student than was the BA.
    • The social side is also deficient for busy part-time research students (given that most research students are full time), and I have found a lack of opportunity to participate.
    • Consequently I have less sympathy for the concerns and research projects of the other research students than I would have had I the time to engage with them. This makes the weekly Research Seminars less satisfying than might otherwise be the case.
    • Also, research seminars are frequently held during the day (eg. Dorothy Edgington’s on Vagueness), when I cannot attend.
    • Finally, my part-time paid employment (which was intended to leave room for philosophical research) has resulted in a full-time job squashed into 3 days, so that I’m frequently exhausted on my days’ off. Consequently, I pursue my research with less vigour than I otherwise might, especially when it is going badly.
Supporting Material:
  1. I produce a detailed Monthly Status Report for my own record at Link (
  2. My Spring Term Plan is at Link (
  3. My Thesis Chapter Breakdown is at Link (, and
  4. My Research Proposal is at Link (

Note last updated: 21/04/2018 20:05:17

Footnote 1: (What are We?)

Plug Note

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 13:
  • There are hosts of papers by Olson that touch on this topic, but this book, and the paper of the same name, are enough in this context.

Note last updated: 29/12/2019 12:57:36

Text Colour Conventions

  1. Black: Printable Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
  2. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020

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Timestamp: 01/08/2020 02:44:29. Comments to