Embracing Chaos: issue 10.1 of Excursions postgraduate journal out now

Copies of the December 2020 Excursions journal issue Chaos.

Excursions is an open access University of Sussex journal run by and for postgraduate researchers. Read the entire issue on the Excursions website.

When Excursions chose ‘chaos’ as our theme for 2020, we had no idea how prophetic this choice would turn out to be.

A year ago, we published our Call for Papers inviting researchers to embrace chaos – and then, just a couple of months later, the world had to face a whole new level of chaos. Embracing chaos was no longer a choice, it was a necessity.

In this issue, Excursions had the pleasure of assembling a collection of papers that examine chaos in a variety of ways and inspires thoughts and dialogues: chaos opposes order and is fuel to a new order; chaos is violence and inspiration; chaos is part of being human and part of research.

Alongside eight articles, we also published eight essays by doctoral researchers examining the challenges of doing Research in Times of Chaos – our response to the global pandemic that has undoubtedly shaped this issue.

In the midst of this chaotic world and your own personal chaos, we hope you enjoy this issue. If 2020 taught us anything, it was to adapt and embrace chaos. So we invite you, yet again, to embrace chaos with us.

– Louise Elali, Excursions Managing Editor and Sussex PhD researcher (MAH)

Get involved in Union decision-making and give doctoral researchers a voice – PGR Part Time Officer

This year, the Students’ Union has introduced the new role of PGR Part Time Officer to ensure that research students have a voice in the decisions that affect them.

Part Time Officers are part of the Executive team at the Union and play a key role in decision-making and influencing the University. 

Do you want to represent your fellow postgraduate students and help to improve the PhD experience? You have until 9am on 26 October to nominate yourself via the USSU website.

This role can be shared between two researchers. Any questions, contact natalie.s@sussexstudent.com.

Voting will happen from 26 to 30 October 2020, see the USSU website for further details.

New advice webpage for PhD researchers on approaching the Autumn term

The University has updated its advice for doctoral researchers and supervisors in light of coronavirus, incorporating it into a new area of the staff website covering plans for the Autumn term.

The new webpage includes the latest guidance on travel and fieldwork, remote supervision, online training and events, submission and the viva, options for intermission and studying outside of the UK, plus what to do if you become unwell.

The new webpages may also be useful for researchers working as doctoral tutors or based in Sussex, particularly the information on teaching (remotely and in the classroom), research grants, and the reopening of campus.

The coronavirus advice webpage will no longer be updated – please make sure you replace any bookmarked links you may have stored.

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.

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).

Library starts Click and Collect service for print collections

A barrier reading "2 metres. Please maintain social distancing at all times" stands in front of the security gates at the University of Sussex Library. Image: Sussex Library

Since the Library building closed in March the team have been working hard to provide Sussex students and staff with the online resources and support they need.

Now – after consultation with Health & Safety, SEF and campus unions – they’ve launched a Click and Collect Service to enable access to some printed materials in the collection.

It isn’t possible to request items that are on loan at the moment, but if the item you want is available on Library Search, request it as normal and you will receive an email once it’s ready, with further instructions on when and how to collect.

See the Library Click and Collect webpage for more information.

VOTING NOW OPEN – Research Image and Poster Competitions (Festival of Doctoral Research 2020)

Cast your vote for the People’s Choice award by 17.00 tomorrow, Tuesday 16th June

A hand placing a vote into a ballot box.

The Research Image and Poster Competition 2020 entries are in! The entries are showcased on the Research Image and Research Poster webpages, and below (for the best viewing experience, open the Sway presentation in full screen and click to enlarge the entries).

Have your say in the People’s Choice award by voting for your favourite image/poster using the Research Image Voting and Research Poster Voting forms (one vote per person, duplicates will be voided). Voting is open to all Sussex students and staff, and closes on Tuesday 16th at 17.00.

The shortlisted images and posters will be exhibited on the webpages throughout the Festival of Doctoral Research this week. The competitions will be judged by a panel drawn from the University’s research community, and the winners will be announced at the prizegiving ceremony on Wednesday 17th June along with the 3MT and Adam Weiler Impact Award, so book your place to attend and find out who has won!


Research Image Competition 2020 Entries:

Research Poster Competition 2020 Entries:

Festival spotlight on… Three Minute Thesis 2020 Participants (Wednesday 17th June)

A banner with writing: 3MT Three Minute Thesis, Founded by the University of Queensland

In a week’s time we will revelling in the 2020 Three Minute Thesis final. Taking place at 14.00 on Wednesday 17th June, Sussex 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, get to know this year’s participants by reading their abstracts on our 3MT website. You can also check out a summary of the 2019 competition and 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.

The first place, second place and People’s Choice winners will be announced live at 16.00, followed by the prize giving for the Research Image and Research Poster competitions, and the Adam Weiler Doctoral Impact Award. Be sure to tune in!

Three Minute Thesis 2020 Participants:

Abrar Abdulaziz Almjally (School of Engineering and Informatics)
 Investigating the role of physicality in learning programming for primary school students

Catherine Hennessy (Brighton & Sussex Medical School)
Social media use by doctors: where the conflicts for professionalism lie

Ferheen Ayaz (School of Engineering and Informatics)
Blockchain-Enabled Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications

Joanna Wood (School of Global Studies)
A history of women’s international thought in the US

Judy Aslett (School of Media, Film and Music)
Making a TV documentary to support the #ENDFGM campaign in The Gambia

Meirin Evans (School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences)
Journey to the beginning of time

Melina Galdos Frisancho (University of Sussex Business School)
Making sense of Inclusive Innovation: Institutional Drivers for Knowledge Production and Organisational Learning in Peru

Norah Alzahrani (School of Media, Film and Music)
Saudi journalistic culture; an exploratory study of journalists understanding of their role and function

Ranse Howell (University of Sussex Business School)
When you look at me what do you see?

Rui Guo (School of Media, Film and Music)
A generative method for music with tension control

Sushri Sangita Puhan (School of Education and Social Work)
Why and how people think, talk and practice adoption in India

Find out more about each participant’s research through their abstracts on our 3MT website.

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!

SPRU PhD Forum (Thursday 14th & Friday 15th May 2020)

The 26th annual SPRU PhD Forum is going online this year, with presentations live streamed on YouTube over two days. You can access the full schedule below:

Thursday May 14th – live on YouTube: SPRU PhD Forum Day 1
Friday May 15th – live on YouTube: SPRU PhD Forum Day 2

Two further sessions will take place on Zoom – on Thursday afternoon, a workshop on researcher wellness during Covid-19, provided by Sussex Doctoral School; and on Friday afternoon, a panel on academic career development from the ST Global Consortium. If you would like to join, email D.Wemyss@sussex.ac.uk for Zoom links.

Join the LinkedIn group and follow on Twitter for regular updates, and contact sprudoc@gmail.com for further details.