19 OCT 2003, Page 027
`Silly' PhDs face the chop

Readers of the Sunday Herald Sun were informed by journalist Samantha Maiden that funding for “bizarre'' university degrees such as surfing and aromatherapy, and considering if Jesus Christ was a homosexual, may be scrapped.

Existing PhD thesis topics mentioned as justification for federal government intervention to scrap silly PhD theses were:

“Tom and Nicole Kidman's divorce (How Australian women reacted to the Hollywood couple's break up)” - PhD from Australian National University.

“Neo-Spiritualism (Wonder Woman and Xena Warrior Princess)” - PhD from University of South Australia

“Tattoos, Writings in the Flesh (Subjectivity, textuality, ethics and pleasure)” - Macquarie University

“Jesus Christ (Does astrology reveal he was a homosexual?)” - PhD from University of Queensland

“Blondes (The desirability of blondes through history)” - PhD from Griffith University

Dr Margaret Peters is a senior lecturer at the University of South Australia and supervises the type of research likely to be the target of the federal government. She warned against students being banned from freedom of thought.

"I don't think we benefit when someone makes a list of approved things to study,'' she said. “Years ago, the Catholic Church issued a list of books approved to read. This isn't too far removed.''

Dr Peters, who qualified for a PhD in child play, said she had supervised students in postgraduate studies ranging from hip-hop music to graffiti.

"I think it would be a sad day if Xena and Wonder Woman didn't get a go (as subjects for a PhD thesis)’’, she said.