Mar 012010

I had a very useful discussion last week with my academic supervisor. Very shortly I will have two research essays due and a presentation to do for what my dissertation will be about. All well and good if I knew where I was going, which is where the discussion ended up being very useful.

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Oct 212009

I had a very fruitful meeting with my academic supervisor today. It wasn’t intended as anything other than a bit of a catch up, but it turned out to be a most useful boost. I know that I’m only 5 weeks into the Masters course, but I was already feeling that I was lacking focus and direction. I knew where one 5k-word essay was coming from but the others were still somewhat vague (nebulous even and at risk of ending up in a quagmire). I’m not saying that the revised track is better focused, but it does seem to fit well and is a bit more interesting than what I had planned originally. Continue reading »

Sep 152009

I’m now officially a postgrad – and I only had to queue for about an hour into the bargain. I thought I was being smart too. I decided to go in for registration opening at 9.15 this morning. After all, what right-minded student is up at that time during freshers’ week? Oh how wrong I was! Massive queues first thing so headed to New College for a coffee after being advised to come back maybe at 3pm when it might be quieter. Couldn’t really hang around until then so headed back to Adam House just before 11am, queued, paid my fees, got a new card, verified attendance and was back in Rainy Hall at New College just after noon for lunch. I’ve even got my card validated for 24hr entry to the postgrad study area – like I’ll be using that (well, maybe I might as deadlines loom).

Sep 092009

I had a meeting with my academic supervisor today and most helpful it was too. We chatted through various possible approaches to my research project and in the general mish-mash of thoughts and conversation a few ideas began to crystallise.

First up is the idea of language or how we express ideas. This is in relation to heaven and hell. We either get too bogged down in the images of angel, harps and clouds set against demons, pointy tails and lakes of sulphur or it becomes entirely too nebulous and becomes this world a gazillion times better (or worse). But, more particularly, how do we use language that retains the ‘solidity’ of the Christian theological tradition but allows interaction and engagement with the existentialist musings of postmodernism?

Associated with this is the language of death – again tied up with existentialism and issues of ontology. It’ll probably draw from the ‘Death: Perspectives on Thanatology and Eschatology’ course, but may well follow a more independent direction. This is still a woolly one that I haven’t quite decided about yet.

These two make up two thirds of the small (3-4000 words) supervised research essays. The third one will, in all likelihood, draw from the Barth course I intend doing. In all probability I will focus on ‘judgement’ for this one. It’s the final piece of my eschatological jigsaw and Barth is as good a theologian as any to engage with on the subject.

The big problem was always the main dissertation. Not that I couldn’t find something to write about, but rather focussing on a particular area. There’s much that could be addressed when you come form a revised eschatological perspective. I could talk about the language of prayer; or hymnody; or mission and evangelism; of social justice and causes; or any number of areas affecting how we ‘do’ church. But one idea that floated out of the discussions was again the interaction with postmodernism and, in particular, engaging with the Emerging Church movement. I’ve had a bit of a go in the past at EC, suggesting that, rather than confront postmodernism, it colludes with it. I think that inaugurated eschatology and all the associated ‘revisions’ of how we speak of heaven, hell, judgement, resurrection and just generally ‘being’ and ‘doing’ church can speak into this area in a very fruitful and meaningful way. I believe it gives us a vocabulary that steps out of ‘tradition’ and addresses many of the concerns surrounding ethics and morality in the ‘now’ but also retaining the ‘hope’ inherent in a future-looking eschatology. Still a bit woolly, but heading in the right direction.

So, nothing too heavy in that lot then 😉 And when I’ve solved all of the church’s theological language problems I’ll maybe have a cup of tea.

Jun 182009

Is what I’ll be doing after the summer.

The arrival of a new member of staff at New College means that there will now be someone available to supervise my Masters research project… and more to the point, they have agreed to do just that.

So, a Masters by Reasearch will be happening. I still have a lot of detail to sort out but at least I have a willing supervisor and the broad outline of a research project.

Jun 022009

I’ve recently had an email from the uni about my application to do a research masters. My latest plea seems to have had some effect and the other good news is that there is a new member of staff starting soon. He is a potential supervisor for my work. It’s also been suggested that I take a couple of the taught classes which might have some bearing on my study area. So, a bit of a mix’n’match approach is being suggested. Anyway, it’s looking more positive than it had done previously. I’ve to catch up with the new staff member at graduation and begin working up a research proposal and outline.

May 202009

As mulled over elsewhere, I’m still caught in a dilemma about whether to stick it out for a research masters. The uni haven’t totally ruled out the possibility but are pushing stringly for a taught course. The push is being driven by resourcing problems primarily.

My heart says I’d like to do my pet project but my head says that it’s another opportunity to take some more diverse courses and expand my learning rather than give it depth in one area.

I suppose, as I said in the comments of my initial post, if I can come up with a convincing reason to do the research masters then that satisfies both head and heart. If I can’t convince myself that it’s worth pursuing, then the sensible course of action is the taught degree.

May 122009

I had an email from the uni last night about my Masters application. For various reasons, they’d like to encourage me to consider a taught masters rather than the research one I’d applied to do. Issues over staffing/supervision they say, but I suspect they know me too well and realise I need the structured course to get on with things.

So, I have a choice. If I stick with Edinburgh I could do the Theology in History MTh (which would be closest to what my research masters would have been about) or I could think about the Ministry MTh. Pros and cons with either, but the theology one would allow me to do (some of) my research project. The ministry one would, I expect, be more useful ultimately.

Of course, there’s always the option of doing a postgrad course at Glasgow (but how could I possibly turn my back on New College?). I have to say though, and no disrespect to Glasgow, there are none of them that leap out at me as being a ‘must-do’ course. Another option is distance-learning at HTC, but again, it’s not really a thrilling prospect.