PhD Book Club

The best reads about PhD life. Meets twice each semester.

Photograph of book shelves in a library filled with lots of different coloured books

PhD Book Club meets 4-5pm on Fridays every six weeks, with Revd Dr Harriet Harris and Dr Kitty Wheater (both PhD veterans!). Open to all PhD students, we’ll read books that cast light on the trials, tribulations, and mundanities of PhD life, offering perspective and inspiration for the time ahead. Past books have included Educated, by Tara Westover, Night Waking, by Sarah Moss, and On Beauty, by Zadie Smith.


Read more about PhD Book Club in this blog post by Harriet and Kitty for Teaching Matters.


For our first meeting of 2022 on Friday January 28th, we have a bit of a treat, and two short reads, lined up for you.


We'll be joined by Dr Annie Pirrie, Reader in Education at the University of the West of Scotland, to discuss her short book Dancing in the Dark: A Survivor's Guide to the University, alongside Virginia Woolf's timeless essay, 'A Room of One's Own.'

Email to register for PhD Book Club.


DANCING IN THE DARK: A SURVIVOR’S GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSITY, by Anne Pirrie, Nini Fang, and Elizabeth O’Brien

‘This book is at once an exploration, a dance in the dark, an invocation to intellectual openness and to dwelling, if need be, in uncertainty. It addresses the insecurity, uncertainty and fears that attend having one’s being in the university and considers these as virtues rather than as failings.’



A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN, by Virginia Woolf

[synopsis from Goodreads]

‘A Room of One's Own is an extended essay by Virginia Woolf. First published on the 24th of October, 1929, the essay was based on a series of lectures she delivered at Newnham College and Girton College, two women's colleges at Cambridge University in October 1928. While this extended essay in fact employs a fictional narrator and narrative to explore women both as writers and characters in fiction, the manuscript for the delivery of the series of lectures, titled Women and Fiction, and hence the essay, are considered nonfiction. The essay is seen as a feminist text, and is noted in its argument for both a literal and figural space for women writers within a literary tradition dominated by patriarchy.’

A photograph of 'Dancing in the Dark' book cover. The book is lying on a desk. The book is dark blue with green, yellow and red doodles on the cover. Beside the book is a blue and red pen. A cream stone is lying on the bottom right hand corner of the book.