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The Professional Doctorate, first module – done!

First module of a Professional Doctorate

I’ve been waiting to write this post, I probably should wait a little longer, until I know I’ve passed my first module. But I haven’t written about uni since attending the induction and just wanted to write an update.

The first module has been a lot tougher than I thought it would be. And yes, I might not have even passed, or got the percentage I need, so it could get a lot tougher.

The first part of the module is when you receive your reading. And there was lots. 

This is the first difference. For my undergraduate degree and MBA you do a couple of hours of lectures a week over the course of a term. You have lots of reading but it’s dispersed.Professional Doctorate at Cardiff University Doing the Professional Doctorate part-time means for each module you attend university on a Thursday evening, all day Friday, and all day Saturday. All of your lectures crammed in to a short space of time. The added ‘bonus’ is that if you really want to benefit from the lectures you need to do all your reading ahead of your attendance. Nothing is dispersed by time.

I managed to get most of my reading done. Although I had planned to do my remaining reading on the train on the Saturday morning. Only to get to the train station and find rail engineering works put heed to my plans. A walk back to get the car and I got to uni on time. My lack of reading wasn’t identified, but I know that if I had completed all the reading the lectures would have meant more.

I’m calling them lectures. Which seems an exaggeration. There are twelve of us undertaking the PD, so it’s more of a seminar, but I’m prioritising the need to retain knowledge over discussion at the moment.

And it was good, it was so good to be thinking again. Not that I don’t think at work, work is seriously testing. But getting to think with a freedom- about the value of public services, about trust, and respect- it expands your brain, and it’s almost as though I can feel it happening.

Because, oh my. It was tiring. Each day I got home and fell asleep on the sofa. I couldn’t believe how exhausting sitting in a chair, listening to people talk and discussion was. I think it’s what I do every day but this was something else.Sleeping of a Professional DoctorateOn the Saturday the university arranged for us to have lunch with PD students in their second year. I already love this about the School, they seem to have sewn up how to best test us and place us at ease, so it’s not quite as painful. I was fortunate to get some really good advice, which I’ll come onto later. 

We also had to set the title of our first assignments. This would be the test I mentioned. 

I found this particularly difficult. I admit to have spent a large percentage of the three days questioning how on earth the university approved my place. The first module was ‘Changing Modes of Professionalism’ and I questioned whether I could actually be considered a Professional. This was further tested by the fact I am on a Professional Doctorate, so deciding not to meet the criteria would have significant consequence.

I decided to balance my lack of comfort with an area of interest, so focused my assignment on professional ethics.First module of a Professional DoctorateSo, on to the assignment.

Again, echoing the school’s ability to place you at ease whilst testing you in the strongest way.

The assignment has two deadlines. 

You are expected to submit your assignment (in full) after six weeks. Your assignment is assessed, and returned within two weeks with feedback. You then have five weeks to resubmit.

How nice is that? You get to find out what can be improved and you have the chance to submit your final assignment incorporating this feedback. How kind!

Or that was my initial reaction.

The thing about the PD is, whilst the pass mark is 50% you have to get 60% to progress to thesis. Your feedback doesn’t indicate your mark.

You have to incorporate your feedback within your final submission.

The tip I mentioned earlier was the recommendation to initially submit your assignment with 500 words less than required. Because there is little chance of someone feeding back that you’ve written too much, and every chance that the recommendation will be to fill out parts of your essay.

This proved fantastic feedback. After incorporating my feedback I was well over the word limit, and that was after my extra 500 words.

And that’s the joy of the feedback.

The feedback is to prepare you for thesis stage. It’s nothing to do with kindness. It’s about seeing how well as a writer you can incorporate feedback. Part of your mark is actually based on this.

And it’s tough to read a critique of your work. Probably tougher when you know it’s all true.First module of a Professional DoctorateThe fact my feedback started with: “Well done on submitting your first draft assignment – and thank you for this.” really didn’t make me feel good. I had to search deep for the right time to read my feedback, I’ve offered enough to know if that’s the best you can do as a compliment to set the feedback up you’re really digging deep.

It actually wasn’t that bad once I got into the swing of incorporating the feedback. I decided to find equal pleasure in using a red pen to strike out each piece of feedback as it was addressed.

Until the final point- “proof read carefully to address typographical, grammatical and syntax errors prior to final submission.” 

And then I sat in my office and read every word of my assignment out loud, and understood how much this feedback related to those sections I rushed.

So. Job done. Assignment submitted.

How am I feeling? 

Like there’s no time to rest. 

What is I don’t get 60%? 

What if I don’t get 50%?

My next module is in a fortnight. And I need to get all the reading done.

I’ve also noticed that between modules 2 and 3 there is no time. The deadline for my final assignment for module 2 is the week before the draft assignment deadline for module 3. I’m going to have my head in two places, whilst also at work and at home.

And there’s the ever so small matter of a best friend’s wedding falling on the Saturday between those two deadlines- I’m sure that’s the kind of justification needed for the consideration of extensions? Maybe not.

Oh, did I mention having the children home for two weeks’ over Easter? Who wants them?

What if I need to resubmit assignment 1?

No pressure.

Timing. It’s never been my strong point.

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Joanne Brady
    January 5, 2017 at 09:18

    Debbie, you are doing marvellously and I am with you all the way. I’d love to be physically and academically with you too, but my timing isn’t perfect either! You are a twin mum. You work full-time. You travel all over the place. I know it’s easy to say you take it all in your stride because I know how hard it is, even if it does look like you’re swimming gracefully like a swan to the outside world. All the best, my dear. You will get there. And YES, you are a professional. As much as others are. They’re all winging it too. Enjoy those naps 🙂
    Joanne Brady recently posted…Bugtopia, Hornsea, East YorkshireMy Profile

    • Reply
      Debbie
      January 17, 2017 at 21:52

      My respect for anyone who does this study lark with kids knows no bounds. You’re right, it’s all about the swan. Every parent I’ve know who studies and parents “just does”, now. Well, yes, my swan-like skills are developing in parallel (sleep dependent).

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