UEA Online Training Series for PGRs 2020-21: details online now

A person wearing headphones and sitting at a computer screen is silhouetted against a sunset sky.

The UEA online training series for doctoral researchers offers research and professional skills training in a ‘live-taught’ online format. Training sessions are delivered via a virtual classroom, often on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings 7pm-9pm but also on weekday mornings 10am-12pm. 

The series is organised and administered by Dr Simon Watts, PGR Training Coordinator for the Faculty of Social Science at UEA, who also teaches the majority of sessions.

The series consists of five themed modules, each with a number of sessions repeated three or four times throughout the year: 

  • Module 1: Academic Writing
  • Module 2: Qualitative Research Skills
  • Module 3: Finishing your PhD
  • Module 4: Teaching Skills
  • Module 5: Quantitative Research Skills

The module on qualitative research now includes a new session on using NVivo. We will be repeating this and several of the other sessions exclusively for Sussex researchers; once scheduled, these will be available to book on the RDP listings webpage.

In a change to the series, each individual session will open for bookings three weeks before they are due to run. The first session, running on Tuesday 6th October at 7pm, will open at 7pm on Tuesday 15th September, and so on throughout the year.

Make a note of the sessions you are interested in and when the bookings will open. Booking is always competitive so make sure you book early to avoid disappointment.

For more information on the individual sessions and for booking details, visit the UEA Online Training Series website. The Doctoral School does not deal with bookings. If you have any problems or want to ask a question please email simon.d.watts@uea.ac.uk or ssf.advancedtraining@uea.ac.uk.

Work placements: Policy Internship Scheme for UKRI-funded PhD researchers

Are you a UKRI-funded doctoral researcher? The Policy Internships Scheme provides the opportunity for research council-funded PGRs to work for three months with one of a select group of highly influential policy organisations.

The student will be expected to produce at least one briefing paper, participate in a policy inquiry and/or organise a policy event, or equivalent piece of work.

Internships are available with a number of parliamentary departments, government departments and non-governmental bodies, learned societies and other organisations.

The host partners for the 2020/21 competition round include the Committee on Climate Change, the Department for Education, HM Courts & Tribunals Services, the Royal Society, the National Archives, and Public Health England.

The current call for applications closes on 10th September 2020. See the Policy Internships Scheme website for more information, including a full list of participating organisations and eligibility criteria.

New University funding schemes to support PhD researchers impacted by Covid-19 – apply today

A calculator and a pen sit atop a printed balance sheet.

The University Executive Group has agreed two new funding schemes in support of doctoral researchers impacted by Covid-19: the Sussex Scholarship Extension Scheme and the PGR Hardship Fund, both launching today.

The PGR Hardship Fund is open to PhD researchers without access to external funding extensions (e.g. UKRI scholarships). Any queries regarding the Hardship Fund should be sent to colleagues in the Student Life Centre – studentfunding@sussex.ac.uk.

The Sussex Scholarship Extension Scheme is open to PhD researchers funded by Sussex, to apply for scholarship extensions. Questions around extensions can be sent to doctoralschool@sussex.ac.uk.

Please note that:

  • any PhD researcher experiencing financial difficulties – regardless of their funding source – can apply to the general Student Hardship Fund.
  • PhD researchers experiencing Covid-19 related financial difficulties – bar those with access to externally-funded scholarship extensions (e.g. UKRI) and the Sussex Scholarship Extension Scheme – can apply to the new PGR Hardship Fund. Priority will be given to students in the later stages of study.
  • PhD researchers who are applying to the Sussex Scholarship Extension Scheme can subsequently apply to the general Student Hardship Fund, once they’ve received an outcome from the Extension Scheme.

For full details, including how to apply, see the PGR Hardship Fund and Sussex Scholarship Extension Scheme webpages.

DOC Grant reopens: apply now for funding to cover online conference fees

A laptop on a desk next to a coffee mug shows multiple people on a Zoom style conference call.

As a temporary measure that will be kept under review, we are reopening the Doctoral Overseas Conference Grant to applications for online conference registration fees only. We are temporarily expanding the scheme for conferences in the UK as well as overseas.

The DOC Grant supports doctoral researchers who are presenting their research at a conference. Applicants must be registered for a doctoral degree at Sussex University, and the application must be made prior to submission of your thesis.

While under normal circumstances researchers are able to apply for a maximum of £1,000 during the period of their registration, we will consider applications for online conferences that take you over the £1,000 threshold at the moment. 

For further information, including the updated guidance notes, eligibility criteria and the application form, see our DOC Grant webpage.

Business Boost 2020: Calling all social sciences researchers – survey on business engagement

SeNSS have launched an online survey of doctoral and early career researchers in the Social Sciences, with the hope of identifying opportunities to support researchers working with business, and increase business engagement.

The data they collect will not only inform decisions regarding the provision of the Business Boost programme – including here at Sussex – but also any future SeNSS training provision for PGRs. The survey closes on 11 July.

Sussex’s own ESRC IAA / SeNSS funded Business Boost 2020 programme is designed to help doctoral and early career researchers to develop and enhance their skills in engagement with businesses. Funding is available to people who are seeking to develop new relationships with industry, or continue established links.

The scheme supports two funding streams – six-month residencies at The Fusebox in Brighton, and a Business Engagement Fund offering up to £1,000 to support engagement activities.

For more information contact Mary Harris, ESRC IAA Administrative Assistant (m.f.harris@sussex.ac.uk), or Nora Davies, ESRC IAA External Partnerships Manager (n.davies@sussex.ac.uk).

UCL / openDemocracy competition: What is your view of the world after COVID?

Promotional banner for the Visions of a world after Covid-19 competition, showing a beautiful hand-drawn image of the coronavirus. Artwork courtesy of David S Goodsell and the RCSB PDB.
Source: openDemocracy

What might democracy look like as countries emerge from lockdown? How will our societies and cultures respond to this global crisis and its aftermath?

UCL and openDemocracy are teaming up to invite school and university students to have a say in how the world should look after coronavirus. They want to find and shout about the best ideas from the next generation for what should come next. They’re looking for images, short videos and written entries, and the judging panel includes academics across a wide range of subject areas and world-class institutions.

The competition is open to mature and postgraduate students, and the grand prize includes a bespoke training opportunity with either openDemocracy or UCL that may take the form of a mini-fellowship, work experience, or placement in line with the winner’s area of interest. All winners and runners-up will receive a personal mentoring/career advice session with one of the expert judges and their entries will be published on openDemocracy’s website.

The deadline is 10 July 2020. See the openDemocracy World After Covid website for further details and to enter the competition.

Festival of Doctoral Research, 15th – 19th June 2020

The Festival of Doctoral Research is back! Just because we are not able to meet in person isn’t going to stop us from our annual celebration of doctoral research at Sussex.

Taking place over five days (Monday 15th – Friday 19th June), the doctoral community will come together for a range of events, workshops, and competitions, with plenty of opportunities to get involved. We will be providing updates and adding more events over the next few weeks, so stay tuned to the Festival Homepage and on Twitter #SussexDocFest.

Here’s a round up of what’s on offer throughout the festival so far.


The Three Minute Thesis event takes centre stage on Wednesday 17th June when doctoral researchers will take to the (remote) stage to present their research in just three minutes! This year’s participants are from varied fields, and will be vying to win the first-place £500 towards research and a place in the Vitae UK semi-finalsSign up to the event to tune in remotely, to learn about the amazing richness and breadth of doctoral research at Sussex, and to vote for your favourite for the People’s Choice Award!

While you’re waiting for the 3MT final check out a summary of the 2019 competition and also an interview with Noora Nevala, last year’s winner, who shares her 3MT journey. She discusses what she learned from training and preparing for the final, the skills she developed, and her top tips for this year’s participants.

A black woman wearing a Pride t-shirt sits on the street in Cuba. She has a pride rainbow in the shape of Cuba painted on her neck and is looking directly at the camera. Research Image Competition 2019 winning photograph, by Evie Browne.
Photograph by Evie Browne – 1st Prize, Research Image Competition 2019

We are excited to take a deeper look into Sussex research through the Research Image and Research Poster competitions. Doctoral researchers from all years and disciplines are invited to submit an image or poster to offer a visual perspective on their research.

Entering is quick and easy, so get your Image or Poster applications in by Friday 5th June to take part! You can look through the 2018 and 2019 shortlisted entries for any needed inspiration. All 2020 shortlisted entries will be showcased throughout the festival for people to view and to vote for their favourite, and the winners will be announced on Wednesday afternoon as part of the prize-giving ceremony alongside 3MT.

On Tuesday 16th, we will be holding our first ever panel discussions on Finishing the Doctorate, one each for Arts and Humanities, Sciences, and Social Sciences. Raise your queries and engage in discussion with Directors of Doctoral Studies and late-stage/finished researchers from your field, who will provide insights into what to expect and how they dealt with issues such as conducting field research, undertaking data analysis, and the Viva process.

There will be a variety of webinars and workshops for you to engage with and learn from. The sessions cover topics on mental health and wellbeing, networking, preparing research proposals, and much more:

The Library team is bringing a brand new event to the Festival in the shape of the Wikipedia Edit-a-thon. This event is for anyone who is interested in learning how to improve diversity on Wikipedia by developing pages on notable women, LGBTQ+ and BAME professionals and underrepresented issues missing from the free and open encyclopedia. Book your place to contribute to the creation and dissemination of open knowledge, and help to address under-representation and bias. If you’d like to find out more, you can check out what’s involved in an Edit-a-thon, and read about the value of being a Wiki scientist and why we need more women in Wikipedia.

Poster for Sussex Research Hive Doctoral Researchers' Quaran-Time Capsule project.

There will be plenty of fun taking place on Twitter under the hashtag #SussexDocFest, including the Research Hive’s #QuaranTimeCapsule which invites you to share the photos which have represented your lockdown PhD experiences.

Poster for the Sussex Research Hive Quiz Evening on Thursday 18th June.

On Thursday 18th June, put your general knowledge to the test and be in with a chance of winning vouchers at the Hive Scholars’ Quiz Evening.

And for even more light-hearted amusement, book your place for Games Night on Tuesday 16th. There will be fun, laughter, and, of course, Cards against Humanity.

Poster for the PhD Game Night on Tuesday 16th June. A dice with arms, legs and a superhero cape points at a laptop screen and says, 'Go Play!'.

Remember to stay tuned to the Festival homepage and on Twitter #SussexDocFest for more fun and updates over the next few weeks!

Doctoral School awards funding for nine exciting Researcher-Led Initiatives

A photograph of people's hands stacked one on top of the other, over a wooden table.

We are pleased to announce that nine Researcher-Led Initiatives, with a real potential for meaningful impact, have been awarded funding following review by a panel including Dr Katy Petherick (public engagement coordinator), Prof Jeremy Niven (graduate student mental health and wellbeing champion) and Katy Stoddard (Doctoral School).

The themes this year covered mental health and wellbeing, training and development, and public engagement, and each of the applicants impressed us with their well-considered projects, as well as their resourcefulness in adapting to the ongoing uncertainty around Covid-19.

Congratulations to all of the researchers who put together a successful bid. In these difficult times it is a real boost to see such innovative projects coming from our doctoral community, and that the Doctoral School is able to fund such important work is something we are very proud of.

Read on for details of each of the RLI projects, and keep an eye out for more details on how you can get involved in the coming months.

deCOALonise Europe! Tracing the supply chain of coal and anti-coal resistance
Andrea Brock (Global Studies)

A collaboration with the activist group deCOALonize Europe, Andrea’s publication will explore the impact of coal extraction on indigenous and marginalised communities, and the historical connection between coal and colonialism that is reproduced in today’s trade relationships. By drawing the legacy of colonialism into the climate debate, the aim is to inform and inspire people to action.

Tea and Talk in the Time of Covid-19
Devyn Glass (Psychology), Louise Elali (MFM) & Aanchal Vij (English)
The Hive Scholars are sending wellbeing care packages to doctoral researchers who may be feeling isolated during the lockdown, accompanied by a virtual Tea & Talk session to connect researchers on 24th June. If you’d like to get involved you can sign up for a care package.

Teaching Problem Solving and Analytical Thinking Through Coding and Programming
Julia Jackiewicz (MPS)

Inspired by Sussex’s outreach programme, Julia will run a coding club with primary schools in her local area in Poland, targeting children at a crucial age for interest in STEM subjects, and hoping to engage and inspire them with hands-on activities and creative thinking.

BAME Role Models in Science
Kamillia Kasbi (Life Sciences)

Kamillia’s initiative tackles the lack of BAME representation in the sciences, and academia in general. By creating profiles and portraits to highlight BAME scientists and their varied career pathways, the project will motivate and engage BAME students, and create a connected support network for BAME PhD researchers at Sussex.

Unsilencing Pakistan’s #metoo Survivors: A Delayed Coming Out
Saba Karim Khan (Global Studies)

Aiming to uncover the narratives of women in Pakistan who have experienced abuse, Saba’s documentary film, based on firsthand testimony, will raise awareness of the harassment women face, look at the social and cultural barriers that prevent them speaking up, and consider whether western #metoo strategies may need to be adapted in the global south.

Media, Arts & Humanities PhD Creative Outlets
Kate Meakin, Manuela Salazar & Katharina Hendrickx (MFM)

Kate, Manuela and Katharina build on their MFM Peer Support Group RLI last year to encourage wellbeing and community among PhD students in the new MAH School, by providing a space for researchers to relax and engage in creative practice, encouraging them to take a break from study, and facilitating discussions on the broader PhD experience.

MPS One-Day PGR Conference
Fabrizio Trovato, Hannah Wood & James van Yperen (MPS)

The MPS PGR Conference will showcase and celebrate the research of the School’s PhD researchers, promote networking and collaboration between the Mathematics and Physics communities, and offer a learning experience for new researchers, Masters and undergraduate students alike.

Zoom(ing) in on Nostalgia: The Way-Back Weekender
Aanchal Vij (English)

Aiming to foster community and a sense of belonging among distanced PhD researchers at Sussex and beyond, Aanchal will curate a weekend of shared indulgence in nostalgic popular culture – including films, music and literature – and provide a space for PGRs to come together for informal discussions and connection.

Chinese Acupressure Massage for Sedentary Researchers
Violet Wei (English)

Violet’s project will build a platform for doctoral researchers to learn about the potential benefits of acupressure massage from a qualified practitioner, promote relaxation, and raise self-awareness of health and wellbeing, at a time when many of us are more sedentary than ever.

A note from the Doctoral School – PGR experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic

On Thursday 16th April the Hive Scholars and the Doctoral School co-hosted an online session for PhD researchers to share their experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic. The online session was complemented by the Scholars’ Padlet Wall, where experiences could be documented anonymously. Thank you to everyone who attended the session or left a comment, we value your contributions.

The aim was to create a space for researchers to give their views on how Covid-19 is affecting their lives and their work, to provide an opportunity for discussion, and to give a voice to the shared issues of the PhD community.

From the session, it was clear that many of you are facing difficulties, from disruption to research and family responsibilities to uncertainty around funding, visas and tutoring. The key message from the forum was that all PhD researchers are being impacted at the moment, whatever your financial or personal situation. The stress of living through a public health crisis is affecting everyone.

For many researchers, there are uncertainties surrounding finances. This is a complex area, which is subject to review as the impact of Covid-19 is understood. Finances and scholarship issues will also vary depending on how your studies are funded. As this was a key question from the online session we want to be clear that at the current time there is no provision for Sussex-funded scholarship extensions or for PhD fee waivers. If you are experiencing financial difficulties, the university’s Hardship Fund is open to doctoral researchers (if the fund is new to you, the Scholars have published an introduction on their blog).

Albertus Schoeman, the PGR Rep in the Social Sciences, kindly summarised the views expressed in the session and reported these to the Doctoral Studies Committee on Friday 17th April. His report details how Covid-19 is impacting research and wider life in six main areas:

  1. Research disruption
  2. Childcare and family responsibilities
  3. Issues for international PGRs
  4. Funding and scholarships
  5. Self-funding PGRs
  6. Financial guidelines and doctoral teaching

The Doctoral Studies Committee supported the points raised in this summary, and is committed to the promotion of PGR issues within the university. As an outcome of the meeting, there will be a survey led by the elected PGR representatives in your area, to gauge the potential need for extensions across all PhD researchers.

In addition to this survey, we would like to draw your attention to the national Vitae/SMaRteN survey looking at how Covid-19 is affecting researchers, which we encourage all PGRs to complete. The Vitae survey closes on Sunday 3rd May.

Lastly, at the session we discussed a list of useful resources and campus services that you can access at this time. Please share with friends and colleagues as needed:

With best wishes,

Prof George Kemenes (Director of the Doctoral School)
Miles Willey (Head of the Doctoral School / Research Student Admin Office)

RDP Remote: six new workshops from UEA Online Training Series (May and June)

We are pleased to add six workshops covering qualitative research issues, publishing, and looking beyond the PhD to research proposals and your first academic posting to our Researcher Development Programme.

The workshops are part of the University of East Anglia’s Online Training Series delivered by Dr Simon Watts, and will be exclusively available to University of Sussex doctoral researchers.

Academic Publishing
This session will introduce and discuss the practicalities of academic journal publishing. Various means for choosing a target journal will be considered, as will the mechanics of writing an effective paper (including a summary of the aims of each section of an academic report).
Sussex Direct booking link

A Comparison of Qualitative Methods
This session will compare and contrast the aims, data collection preferences, analytic style, limitations and appropriate usage of four different qualitative methods – grounded theory, thematic analysis, interpretative phenomenological analysis and narrative analysis – in order to identify the types of research questions that suit each method.
Sussex Direct booking link

Qualitative Interviewing
This session will consider three different types of interviewing (structured, semi-structured and unstructured), but with a particular focus on semi-structured or ‘qualitative’ interviewing. Other issues covered will include the nature of interview questions, the design and structure of an effective interview schedule and the mechanics of conducting a successful interview (with different people and to deliver on our research aims). 
Sussex Direct booking link

Analysing Qualitative Data
This session will consider and discuss a range of issues relative to the micro-analysis of qualitative data, including the analyst’s perspective (the aims and nature of their engagement with the data), coding systems, how to choose extracts for analysis in a systematic fashion, the meaning and importance of interpretation, generalising from qualitative findings and various write-up issues, including the relationship between the analysis and discussion sections of a qualitative report and the creation of impact.
Sussex Direct booking link

On the Job: Securing a First Academic Post
This session will focus on a number of relevant issues, including the need to establish an academic identity, how to recognise a ‘gettable’ post, and particularly the generation of effective and job-tailored application paperwork (including CVs, personal statements, and covering letters).
Sussex Direct booking link

Preparing Impactful Research Proposals and Grant Applications
This session will consider the writing of effective research proposals and the best ways to create a compelling ‘case for support’. Coverage will include the generation of a clear rationale, the statement of a defined and delimited set of research aims and questions, the proposal of a study (or series of studies) – as well as appropriate methods and analyses – that will clearly deliver on the stated research aims.
Sussex Direct booking link