Finishing a PhD in 6 months!

I was astonished when I read this from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography about Sir Henry Enfield Roscoe: “Roscoe received his PhD by oral examination ‘[s]ix months after I first went to Heidelberg’ (Roscoe, 58).”! Before his training at Heidelberg in 1854, Sir Roscoe entered UCL in 1848 and finished his degree of Bachelor of Arts, with honours in Chemistry, in 1853.

My first 6 months has passed already and I haven’t even upgraded from MPhil to PhD (normal upgrade is 12 to 18 months after start of MPhil)…… To gain a PhD, I need to do much more than an oral examination…… Now I have loads of questions in my mind. Was it only Sir Roscoe who could do that in 6 months? How was PhD like in the 18th, 19th centuries? If say most students could finish it so quickly, it must have been very popular! Oh, someone please bring me to Victorian times; I can do a project on phossy jaw for PhD!

Note: From UCL Bloomsbury Project, Sir Roscoe was born at No. 10 Powis Place, off Great Ormond Street, in Bloomsbury, London. It is near UCL and as you can see from the map, it is just opposite to the International Hall where I live!

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