North West Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership

Experience of doing online training courses

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Gabrielle Humphreys, Psychology, University of Liverpool, (2019 Cohort)

Originally when lockdown hit I decided to wait it out before completing training courses. I have always learned better in person than through videos. Because of this, I debated whether an online training course would be worth their typically high prices in this format, and, I can’t lie, was a little bit miffed about the lack of a day out with complimentary biscuits and a buffet-style lunch.

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Embodied Geographies Reading Group

Poppy Budworth, Geography and Environment, University of Liverpool (2020 Cohort) and Olivia Fletcher, Geography and Environment, University of Manchester (2020 Cohort)

As first-year PhD students in Human Geography, we decided to start an Embodied Geographies reading group in February, as a way to bring people together from different disciplines and universities. The group has created a space for open and exploratory discussions about all things embodiment. Each month we encourage reading recommendations from group members to ensure we cover a wider range of topics; so far this has included readings on Covid-19 and data, imposter syndrome and auto-ethnography.

We’ve had some really positive feedback from members of the reading group, who have been grateful to us for creating both a social and an academic space for discussions. Members have commented on how it has made meeting people with similar research interests from different disciplines and across different universities easier, allowing them to network with others in a time when facilitating this offline is not possible. Members have also been enjoying reading literature that they had not encountered previously and has thus encouraged them to explore new areas for their research. In addition, the reading group has inspired another first-year Postgraduate Researcher from the University of Manchester to start their own reading group on Urban Futures.

Establishing the group has also helped us both personally. It has not only enabled us to gain some experience organising events, it has also helped us with our own confidence around speaking in front of new groups of people, which will help us greatly when presenting at upcoming conferences. In needing to facilitate a discussion around the readings, we have also improved our critical thinking skills, whereby we have reflected on the readings and developed our own interpretations and thoughts about the texts. Moreover, the group has not only enabled us to network with other members of the group, it has also facilitated conversations via Twitter with authors of the papers we have been discussing, whereby we have been able to feedback the discussions of the group. The group has also helped us both develop a friendship, which has been really helpful at a time when we have both started our PhD’s virtually.

The reading group is on the third Tuesday of every month (4-5pm). If you would like to join the reading group mailing list, please contact either of us via email: / or Twitter: @livAfletcher / @budworthpopppy

DataCamp’ing during Lockdown

Kaori Narita, Economics, University of Liverpool (2017 Cohort)

A few months in during the first lockdown, I finally started finding myself comfortable with the “new normal,” which is quite different from my old working environment, since I was never a working-from-home person and enjoyed the company of my colleagues in our PhD office.

Thanks to the financial support given by NWSSDTP, however, I have developed necessary skills as a quantitative researcher over the past three years of my PhD journey, and this has remained unchanged amidst the global pandemic.

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Internship at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST)

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Iqra Choudhry, Social Studies of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of Manchester (2017 Cohort)

I applied to the POST Fellowship hoping to get some hands-on policy experience. My PhD focuses on the relationship between science and policy on an international stage, so I was looking forward to an opportunity to see how policy making worked on a national scale, here in the UK.

When I was offered the internship, I was given the option to spend my time at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), where I would be working on a POST note over the course of my three months or, working at the House of Lords Library as a Research Assistant instead. One of the reasons I accepted a secondment to the House of Lords Library was because I wanted the chance to work on a range of projects during my time in Westminster.

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