I’m appalled

I was a research student at the University of Sussex from 1985 until 1988, as a result of which I can now put the letters DPhil after my name.  Now I’m gearing up to begin recruiting research students at Sussex when I move there at the end of this month; a list of available projects can be found here, if you’re interested.

However, in the course of this I learned that the University of Sussex has changed the abbreviated form of its postgraduate doctoral degree from DPhil to PhD. Future Susssex researchers will therefore be deprived of the ability to write the letters MADPhil after their name as I do.

The idea that anything in academia should ever actually change sets a dangerous precedent.  What were they thinking of? Everyone knows that PhD just stands for Doctor of Photocopying.

Not to put too fine a point on it, I’m appalled…

11 Responses to “I’m appalled”

  1. […] PdD instead of a DPhil, mean that someone with an MA and a doctorate from there can no longer write MADPhil after their name. And those who are Fellows of the Royal Astronomical Society (FRAS) can get a rapid promotion by […]

  2. PhD stands for “Piled Higher and Deeper” and follows from BS and (optionally) MS (at least on this side of the pond).

  3. Was there ever a distinction between these two, or were they always equivalent? I assume the latter.

    Some US universities, including my current employer, give undergraduate degrees of both B.A. and B.S. in the same discipline, and draw distinctions between the two. My students can get either a B.A. or a B.S. in physics, but the requirements are more stringent for the latter. But since this usage is not standard, I doubt that many employers know that they’re meant to be more impressed by the B.S. students than the B.A. students.

    My undergraduate degree is an A.B. in physics, but I hope that nobody looks down on me because I have a bachelor of arts rather than sciences: my alma mater called all undergraduate degrees A.B. — except those in the engineering school, which were B.S.E. (Apparently engineers aren’t considered worthy of Latin degree names.)

    • telescoper Says:

      They’re equivalent. Oxford still has DPhil, Cambridge PhD. No idea why.

      I graduated from Cambridge with a BA degree in fact, although it subsequently morphed into an MA.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      Yes, Oxford and Cambridge were giving degrees before science differentiated itself out of philosophy, so all their degrees were ‘Arts’ and they have seen no reason to change that. You got a BA for completing the Trivium (grammar – not the same meaning as today – logic and rhetoric) and an MA for the further Quadrivium (geometry, arithmetic, atronomy and music) that together comprise the seven liberal arts and schools. This, amusingly, is the origin of the word ‘trivial’.

      It really is appalling…

  4. George Jones Says:

    Canadian humourist and political scientist Stephen Leacock on his Ph.D: “The meaning of this degree is that recipient has been examined for the last time in his life and pronounced full. After this, no new ideas can be imparted to him.”

  5. Curt Hardy Says:

    I was led by your link to the description of your project, “Cosmology beyond the Standard Model”, and noted a typo in the first sentence that you may want to correct. I believe you meant “witnessed” rather than “witness”. Need I add that I was appalled. In all seriousness I want to add that I am regular reader of “In the Dark” and wish you the very best in your new position at the University of Sussex. I hope that you will still find the time to continue your most enjoyable blog.

  6. Anton Garrett Says:

    If you write a thesis on magnetohydrodynamics then do you get an Mh.D. ?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: