In defence of the dosser

Is there really such a thing as a doss subject? Izzy Cockerell tells us to leave Drama students alone.


When my sister announced her A level choices – Theology, Law, Class. Civ and some other piece of piss subject only offered by provincial public schools, my dad, the sort of man with a secret third in PPE (but at least it was PPE and not ‘creative writing’) went a nasty shade of green – a sort of Jobcentre-green.

Media studies, Sports science, Social science, Social Policy, Sociology, Physiology, Anthropology. All the ‘ologies’ in fact, with a few exceptions. Oh and – how could I forget — Drama. All given the same treatment. All seen by anyone snobby enough not to do them as dud subjects.

Sociology, for instance. Apparently Bristol is ‘really good for Sociology’ – sorry, but what does that even mean? No one seems to have the faintest idea what Sociology actually is.

Why do people who get stressed about their work feel the need to mock others?

On top of this, they must answer brightly to adults questioning what degree they do, and endure the consequences when their questioner’s smile freezes into a barely hidden grimace. ‘Oh, Sociology, now tell me, what is that, exactly?’ Sigh.

Now, Drama is a touchy subject. Why, you might ask, if you wanted to do Drama, would you not just go to drama school? Is it because you wanted to do the ‘unay’ thing?

Or is it because Drama at university is more about set design and serious essays discussing lighting and less about wrapping yourself up in chicken wire and pretending to be reborn from it?

I would rather not broach the argument against a Drama degree for fear of being attacked by any earnest undergraduate thesps spoiling for a fight.

The case in defence of drama is this – as it stands, us so-called ‘serious’ humanities students are dealt a paltry half-dozen hours a week. Meanwhile our Drama cousins still have to study Shakespeare, except for forty hours a week.

Despite this, they continue to have people laugh in their faces when they say they did drama at Bristol – no, no, not the Bristol Old Vic, Bristol Uni. Cue snorts.

The assumed priorities of a drama student

The kids from Arch and Anth, meanwhile, get second-degree sunburn in the blazing heat and stench of the trenches. They spend their days painstakingly unearthing what might possibly be an Anglo Saxon ship but what is most likely to be an infuriating pile of more soil and rocks.

On top of this unending torture, they have to deal with people sniggering behind their aching, sunburnt backs as they carefully sweep dust off the ground with a pastry-brush. It’s bullying, pure and simple.

It’s not fair that I, as an English student and inevitable subject snob, easily avoid being grimaced, laughed and snorted at. Instead I get to spend my days lying grandly in the bath re-reading story-books, exerting most of my self-satisfied energy into trying to turn the hot tap on without scalding my toes.

It is never easy living with prejudice, so perhaps we should all give our poor soft-touch pals a break. Unlike us with our flowery yet (outwardly) reputable subjects and minimal contact hours, these people actually have to work for their grossly misunderstood degree.

They have had it tough ever since they went and picked their offending course. They followed their dreams whilst everyone laughed. Now and for the rest of time they will have to live with this crippling inferiority complex.

To them I say, look on the bright side – there is always someone worse off. At least you’re not a Geographer.