Four terms but still time to party

February 23, 2007

Name : Philip Fine

Age : Late thirties

Job : Head of department and lecturer in psychology, Buckingham University. I teach a music psychology course at Oxford University and carry out research on music psychology and expertise.

Salary : About £30,000.

Background : BA in natural sciences, DPhil in psychology. I supervised music psychology projects at Oxford, Oxford Brookes and Reading universities. My background in music and theatre helps research and relaxation.

What are your working hours and conditions like? At Buckingham, we have four terms a year (two-year honours degrees), so I teach from July to September, not from April to June. With small numbers and tutorial teaching I teach up to 13 hours a week between July and December, though less from January to June (when I teach the Oxford course). Most research gets done between January and June.

Number of students you teach : I lecture to between six and 20 students and give tutorials to no more than six. I also supervise undergraduate and MSc student projects. My research is mainly inter-institutional and I work with colleagues in the UK and US.

Biggest challenge/bugbear this year : Although Buckingham is independent of government funding and we are not required to have Quality Assurance Agency audits, we decided to do so to show the wider public that our quality was high.

How did you solve it? Hard work - getting a rating of broad confidence made it worth it.

What is the social life like? Being a small, multicultural university (700 students from more than 70 countries) there is quite a tightknit community spirit and many national societies.

Most difficult customers : Ten per cent of students do tend to take up 90 per cent of my time. But dawning comprehension from a previously confused student makes the difficult ones bearable.

Best excuse for bad behaviour : I once heard of a student explaining that his new girlfriend was being demanding on his time, hence his absences.

Do you socialise with people at the university? I recently marked ten years at Buckingham so arranged a general drink for all in a local pub, also to celebrate coming top in the National Student Survey. And it usually falls to me to perform in and to MC our annual staff Christmas "revue"!

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