Today I received notification from the Student Registry at Cambridge University that the Board of Graduate Studies has confirmed the award of PhD by Special Regulations for my book English Catholics and the Supernatural.
This represents the final stage (other than graduation itself, which will hopefully be in February) of a process I initiated in January 2013 when I submitted the book to be considered as equivalent to PhD study; the PhD by Special Regulations is available to anyone who holds an MA from Cambridge, subject to certain conditions. One of these is that the candidate should undergo an oral examination or viva, which in my case took place on a very wet day in the Geography Department, 8th November 2013. My examiners were Prof. Peter Marshall of Warwick University and Prof. Owen Davies of the University of Hertfordshire. I have not written about the viva until now, owing to a desire not to ‘tempt fate’ before the official award was confirmed. However, I found my viva a thoroughly enjoyable experience – not least because, although I had met Peter before, I had never had the opportunity to meet Owen in the flesh. This was in spite of having devoured all his writings, which constitute a major inspiration to my work in terms of methodology, historiographical approach and lines of research.
I am very grateful to both Peter Marshall and Owen Davies for generously recommending me for the award of the PhD, as well as to the editors at Ashgate who made my book sufficiently presentable to qualify for the award!