Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Operation pedalo

I'm too worn out from admissions interviews and Christmas shopping to put anything philosophical up here.  But, instead, have a read about this anti-crime offensive by Cambridge police, who are trying to put a stop to bicycling naughtiness around the city.  The report is accompanied by an exciting gallery of pictures of naughty cyclists with their faces pixellated like they do on Crimewatch.  It will be quite a job for the police, I think, because there is a lot of naughty cycling in Cambridge.  Tut tut.

Friday, December 07, 2012

A personal statement (revisited)

This week, I have been reading lots of 'personal statements' from students applying for places at Cambridge.  The Sutton Trust has just published a report which raises concerns about the ways in which students from different backgrounds approach writing these statements and the different opportunities they might have for their statements to be checked and edited.  Also, there is obviously the fact that different students will have had different opportunities to engage in various activities that they can include in their statements.

This is not news.  (Though I imagine it is not a coincidence that The Sutton Trust should be reminding us all of the obvious this week as we listen to the radio before heading off to do some more admissions interviews.)  Nor is it something we don't bear in mind when we are reading these personal statements.

Here is a Grauniad article from 2009 (the URL unhelpfully suggests that we 'ignore' personal statements) that makes clear the general position.  I had something to say about it at the time: here.

For what it is worth, here are some other relevant and perhaps interesting links.

The Sutton Trust report

The (brief) advice on personal statements provided by the University of Cambridge

and, something I found a bit surprising, a website to which students can upload their draft statements and then invite feedback from other people browsing away.  Perhaps worth a few moments -- the 'advice' offered is sometimes quite an eye-opener.  Here is the collection of 'Cambridge personal statements'.  (Compare this site...)

Another Lectureship in Ancient Philosophy

...has been advertised, this time at Somerville College and the University of Oxford.  Further details will appear in due course here.

But you can download the Word documents for the Advertisement, Further Particulars, and Cover Sheet required for applications by clicking on the links.

Here is the advertisement:


 The University of Oxford: Somerville College and the Faculty of Philosophy, Oxford, invite applications from suitably qualified candidates for the above post starting 1 October 2013.

 This post is permanent, subject to the satisfactory completion of a review of the initial period of office by the College and the University. This review, which will take place no later than the fifth year of appointment, is intended to be constructive; it is non-competitive, and most postholders in Oxford complete it satisfactorily.

The area of specialization for this post is Ancient Philosophy. The successful candidate must be able to provide research-led teaching and supervision in Ancient Philosophy at all levels, undergraduate and graduate. Applications from candidates whose work complements the research and teaching of the Faculty, will be welcome; this includes especially candidates with expertise in Ancient Philosophy after Aristotle.

 The successful candidate should normally be able to give undergraduate teaching (in the form of tutorials) in at least two of Logic, General Philosophy and Moral Philosophy from the first year course and a variety of core areas for more advanced papers. A wider teaching repertoire is an advantage. The salary will be on grade 10a (£42,883 to £57,581 per annum, as at 1 October 2012) of the University’s pay and grading structure. Additional College allowances are payable.

The Further Particulars, with details about the position and how to apply, are available from the College and Faculty websites ( and

 By 1 January 2013, the successful candidate must have received the degree of PhD (or equivalent), or attained a comparable level of publications.

The closing date for receipt of applications is Monday 14 January 2013.

Applications for this post are particularly welcome from women and black and ethnic minority candidates, who are under-represented in academic posts in Oxford. The University and the College are equal opportunities employers.

Thursday, December 06, 2012


Phew. Bit hectic at the moment, despite the sabbatical. Quick trip to Paris then admissions interviews and a PhD viva to do.

But... My printer today spewed out what might be a first draft of the book I'm supposed to be writing. It will be chopped and changed a lot, but somehow I find it easier to spot the typos and see what has to be altered on a page rather than a screen. And its a nice feeling to see a pile of bits of paper rather than a list of files in a drop box window.

But, before I get to wield the red pen, there are a few more interviews to do next week. The coffee shop owners of Cambridge must be doing well at the moment sheltering the helicopter parents who sit fretting while their young things head off into the colleges.