By Ian Inman |


The PhD journey can be a pretty daunting experience with lots of twists and turns along the way. During my time as a PhD student, I came up with the ‘PhD Game V2.0’ as a tongue-in-cheek way of thinking about the kinds of experiences doctoral students go through and the potential challenges they face.

It takes inspiration from work originally developed by the Jenner Institute (hence V2.0!) and takes you through the entirety of the PhD journey, from the title proposal, literature review, data collection and analysis, the write-up, the viva voce (meaning “live voice”, the oral exam), the possibility of being rewarded with an M.Phil, right through to the final award of the PhD.

All the hair pulling is there. There will be times when you wonder whether you did the right thing, you might feel a bit down, your life partner might feel pushed aside, and there might be times when the beer monster strikes as you try to work things through! And yes, some decide to take that lucrative job rather than complete the PhD.

It is hard work, but it can also be very rewarding. That feeling of producing an original piece of research that advances knowledge in your chosen field is unlike any other. So don’t be put off! Just remember to plan out your work, communicate with partners and family members so they know where they stand, and try to make time for activities other than research.

The game should help you to think more positively about the PhD process and bring some light-heartedness to times that can be particularly challenging. I hope that, as a result, doctoral students will face a more enriching experience. You never know, that square 39 event (not based on true events of course!) might just come along and rescue you!

For more PhD-game related content, by all means visit my personal blog at Here I discuss my own experiences of completing a doctorate, ways to go about explaining what a PhD is to your dumbfounded friends and relatives and more!



Ian Inman is a former Ph.D. Candidate whose research sought to examine “Compacted Oxide Layer Formation under Conditions of Limited Debris Retention at the Wear Interface during High Temperature Sliding Wear of Superalloys”. He tweets at @Mackem_Beefy