How long does it take to get an Oxford PhD?

I finished my PhD in Electron Microscopy earlier this year and being a former year-group representative on the Student Committee we often discussed what a normal working hours profile was. Well after 4 years of data collection I am pleased to share my results, of course with a graph. The total number of hours worked was 6735 over the 45½ months of my degree (≈148h / month). The plot below shows the number of hours of work related activity for each month of my PhD (details and explanation under the graph).

The ever upward trend…

At the start of the PhD I was averaging around 80 hours a month (≈20h / week), but by the end 3½ later that had risen to around 180 hours a month (≈45h / week).

The 6-month cycle…

Every six months there is always a similar pattern; in around January / February the deadlines for submitting conference abstracts rolls round. Then six months later we are usually in the conference season itself in August / September.

The highs and lows…

There are a couple extra months that stand out. August of year 2, when I got married was a local minima but not the global minima! That was in April of the same year when I first met my in-laws to be. Particular maxima are at September of year 1, preparing for my first ever conference talk, and in July of year 3, preparing for my first invited conference talk. Of course the peak in the last few months was the period writing up my thesis (final bar represents only two weeks).

Building the Chart & Disclaimer

The raw data for this chart was collected using various Google calendars before being analysed with the Black Rabbit time tracking tool. All events tracked were recorded to the nearest 15min or better. I stress that these are my personal findings recorded over the last 4 years and are not in any way endorsed by my supervisor, the Department of Materials, or the University of Oxford.

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