How to fund a PhD

Let’s be blunt from the start. You aren’t going to get PhD funding. No one is. PhD funding is Gatsby’s Green Light, if the said Green Light didn’t actually exist and was just a scratch in your glasses, and you only realise this after your selfish object of affection flattened her husband’s lover with your car. It’s the financial equivalent of Godot; you wait and wait and it never shows up. It’s the economic equivalent of the Lighthouse; talk about getting all you fucking like, you’re still not going to get it. I realised today I am an APhDist. I don’t believe that PhD funding actually exists. It’s just this collective lie we’ve told ourselves because we don’t understand how gravity works, or why flowers are so nice, so we don’t have to face the sober, existential truths of existence. PhD funding is dead, and we have killed it. Kick in the doors of the AHRC in the third act of the film, and all you’ll find there is a little old man, who has built a nest out of applications, and before him is a little jam jar of coppers (most of which are, in fact, Deutschmarks,) marked “All the funding ever.” Basically, I’m not going to get funding. You’re not going to get funding. Anyone who says they have funding is lying and probably also has as their homepage and thinks Godfather III is the best one. In short, we’re all fucked.

Faced with the catastrophic expanse of how truly fucked we are, people like me, who turn up to every Halloween dressed as the Ghost of our Academic Aspirations (because that’s what we wear every day), are faced with a problem. We’ve decided long ago that the only thing that will give our lives meaning is being able to call ourselves “Dr.” We decided against Medicine as a career because people are annoying and have this awful habit of becoming sticky when ill, and we also avoided the more obviously and economically sensible option of changing our first names by Deed Poll to “Dr”, and then screwing the whole thing up by changing the rest of our names to “Frank N Furter,” because frankly the whole of existence would be improved if we all just became Tim Curry in suspenders. So we want to do PhDs. And, sadly, we no longer live in the glorious world my father occupied, where he got paid to do a PhD, a fact he never stopped reminding me of, ever, along with what a disappointment I was and why the hell would I put all that metal in my face am I some sort of poofter, we now need to conjure up money. Lots of it. According to a few website I looked it, I need around £30,000 to complete a PhD, accounting for all tuition, travel, accommodation, living costs, and presumably for all the anti-depressants I’m going to need after having to sit through all those research seminars where someone misinterprets “question” to mean “I’m now going to talk about bloody fantastic my own research is and then stick a question mark on the end relevance what relevance ooh did that only take the entire Q/A session go me.” I’ve never had £30,000. I don’t even know what £30,000 looks like. If I totted up all the money I’ve ever had in my life, I don’t think it would come to £30,000. If I sold all my possessions, and organs, it wouldn’t come to £30,000. The only way I could get £30,000 would be to be more “financially responsible,” and I was very irresponsible and deliberately wasn’t born into a rich family and also, irresponsibly, cut them off for making the Manson family look relatively mild mannered. And, since we’ve established that PhD funding is the opiate of the masses, concocted by Donald Trump and Satan for a laugh, I reiterate that I’m fucked. Not in a fun, kinky way either.

So, how do I make the money? I suppose the precursor to the question is “am I good enough to get on a PhD programme?” the answer to which is probably not, but if I actually admit to that I might as well throw in both the towel and myself, and then go and join a Maoist insurgent organisation in Nepal, for want of something better to do. More interesting than TEFL, at any rate. If only life were like the video games I play, then it would be extremely easy to make money. I’ve made shit tons of cash in virtual worlds, so perhaps I just need to apply this same principle to reality and see if I can get any of that sweet, sweet green:

1) Murder everyone and loot their corpses. 

Imagine, if you will, a dystopian future in which all prospective PhD candidates are given nothing but a hidden blade and some gobbledygook about how nasty Templars are. Making money would be easy. You just wonder the streets of the city, casually murdering people, and then looting their pockets. No one tends to react to this, and you usually get a couple of quid per corpse, as well as, occasionally, thinks like throwing knives, bullets, and hallucinogenic darts, which suggests your murderees weren’t very nice in the first place. I’ve played about 30 hours of Assassins Creed Syndicate and that’s literally all I’ve done. I’ve got £12,000, and given the game is set in the 1800s, that’s about £4 million in current money, which is enough get Jacob and Evie Frye both PhDs and buy everyone in Whitechapel a packet of skittles.


2) Go on a quest. Become dragon born. Become Dr Dragon Born.

You’re a young PhD candidate, recently arrived in town. You’ve got nothing on you but an axe, a loincloth made out of some sort of weasel, and a sweet-ass horned helmet, which admittedly does make you look like a reject from Manowar. Need money? No worries. Your handy in built funding map will lead you to citizens who will send you off on all sorts of fun/dangerous/tedious quests. Of course, the quests in the contemporary world would be a bit duller than the ones in Skyrim. Hello, DragonBorn! Yes, a mysterious cult has stolen my daughter! And by mysterious cult, I mean Starbucks, and by “stolen my daughter” I mean “get me a skinny latte with extra, uh, skin.”

Alternatively, you could just crouch, break into people’s houses, steal their shit, and then sell it back to them. Or, lure rich people to the top of buildings and then shout FUS ROH DAH until they fly into oblivion, helpfully leaving all their money behind.

Dr Dovakiim, I presume?

“I used to be a PhD student like you. but then I took an arrow to the knee…”

3) Go on quests. Have sex with everyone. Become Dr Geralt of Rivia

You want to transition from the vocational world of Witchering to the more academic world of “To Witch is to Err: Witchering in the Northern Kingdoms of Temeria between 1372 and 1408”. Splendid. Run around doing things for people. The advantage of this path way is you get to fuck literally everyone. And by everyone, I mean just women, and by just women I mean just specific attractive ones, because this is a video game after all and woe unto anyone who wanted a queer Witcher. A Quitcher. Still, when you aren’t contracting medieval venereal disease or spending your hard earned coin on making Geralt of Rivia look like a complete tosspot, you’ll probably die because you didn’t put the right oil on your blades before facing off against some hideous be-tentacled monster in a cave. Or, as I like to call it, you failed to read all your assigned reading before going into a seminar at the University of Cambridge Centre of Multi-Disciplinary Gender Studies.

10/10 would bang/fund

4) Fulton everything. 

You are Snake. Liquid Snake. Solid Snake. Venom Snake. Trouser Snake. Snakes & Ladders. Punished Snake. Irritable Bowel Syndrome Snake. Not a Snake. You are not a Snake. Why does everyone here call me Snake. I’m a man, not a Snake. What are you called again? Ocelot? ‘Revolver Ocelot’? What kind of stupid name is that? What do you mean it’s Russian? Oh fuck off. I’m going to talk to Hungry Hippo, at least he doesn’t always call me Snake.

A snake

Let’s try again:

You are…someone. No one can agree what you’re called, but we all agree it has some unfathomable connection to Snakes. You get dropped into warzones on a quest for revenge. You also get a really cool balloon-jetpack thing that you can attach to literally anything, which will then send it flying back to your Oil Rig base and therefore $$$$$$$. It’d be wonderful. I could definitely fund my PhD that way. Oooh, nice car. Fultoned. Excellent! Some sheep! Fultoned. Ah, Professor Stephen Hawking, he must be worth something. Fultoned. King’s Chapel? No one’s going to miss that. Fultoned.

Not a Snake. Seriously, how hard is it?

Keep that up and you’ll be Dr Big John Boss Legendary Mercenary Ahab Snake before Christmas.

5) Type “rosebud” into the corner of your life. 

Do it. now. It’s fool proof. What do you mean you  don’t have a command console? Ok, write Rosebud on a post it note and put it in the upper right hand corner of your vision. Basically the same thing. Sorted. I did it and look how rich I became:

Basically. we’re all fucked.



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