Welcome … the ‘official’ start?

flickr photo by Nathan https://www.flickr.com/photos/90371939@N00/4344878104/ shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

We may be a couple of weeks into the swing of things, but today was the Faculty’s ‘Research Student Welcome’ session. It transpires we’re an eclectic mix within the Faculty of Development and Society, so there were folks there from English, History, Theatre & Performance, Psychology and Education; some starting their PhD and others a Research Masters.

The Head of the Graduate School set out our timeline for the next three years; the milestones we need to reach, the support we can draw on to help us get there and some useful hints and tips for a successful completion. This was underlined by two recent graduates who kindly provided perspectives on their studies and experiences of undertaking PhDs. Although left in no doubt about the challenges we are likely to face, we were reassured that getting through the application process indicated that we had the capability to see this through. Much of the raw information has already reached us through a variety of channels, but it was helpful to have it all neatly summarised. The one point which really sunk in (of which I was naturally already aware) was that we must have a clear view what our ‘original and independent contribution to knowledge’ is. Without that, we are lost, so that’s now firmly ensconced at the forefront of my mind

Following the formal session we retired to the Graduate School for a few refreshments and the opportunity to chat and get to know one another. This is where the real diversity of projects became apparent and, as we had been warned, you immediately think, ‘Wow. What an interesting topic to study!’ The routes by which we had arrived at this point were similarly wide-ranging, though the majority had completed Masters degrees. Despite being such a varied group, it wouldn’t have taken Sherlock too long to pick me out as the most … lived?! But that’s OK.

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