Julija Dzenkovska, PhD researcher, Newcastle University Business School
The multidisciplinary and international environment provided by the HASS postgraduate research training program was invaluable in welcoming me into a larger research community. Having to explain my research project to various students and staff members on multiple occasions (both formal and informal, such as coffee breaks) made me more confident in talking about my research. I'm sure that some friendships that sparked during the training program will last way beyond PhD. While the first year of PhD program had its moments of confusion, HASS training contributed to efficiently dealing with that inevitable occasional haze. As it is clear to me now, research is a non-linear process with its ups and downs.
Weekly HASS sessions provide opportunity to communicate with other students, who might be facing the same challenges, and might be wondering about the very same things. Another thing I learned during the program, when you have a question, ask - there are no silly ones. Furthermore, some modules, such as Quantitative Research Methods, provided me with practical skills which I could immediately apply within my research project. I would strongly advise to take the time to attend as many modules as possible. You never know where you will find a sparkle of inspiration!
Daisy Gibbs, PhD Student for the AHRC-funded Tudor Partbooks Project, International Centre for Music Studies, Arts and Cultures
I started my PhD at Newcastle having come straight from an undergraduate degree, so beyond a short dissertation in the previous year I didn't have much experience of research. I was very conscious of being considerably younger than many of my peers and had pretty much no idea what to expect, and so I really wasn't feeling very confident when I walked into the room for the first session! All I can say is - I needn't have worried. All the staff were so welcoming and helpful and the other students so friendly (and, occasionally, just as clueless as me!) that I soon felt as if I'd been doing my PhD for years. The sessions are comprehensive, clear, varied and you can pick and choose the ones that suit you best, whether these are practical sessions like academic writing, or lectures on issues such as postcolonialism or capital theory which provide brilliant springboards for further reading.
This year I've taken the Postgraduate Certificate in Research Training, which is possibly the best thing I've done all year: it only involved a bit more work than I might otherwise be doing, forced me to engage with the broader issues and implications surrounding my research, and afforded much-needed academic writing and presentation practice. But for me the most important thing that the HaSS research training offers is the opportunity to get away from my desk and the minutiae of my own subject area and share experiences with other PhD students from all different subject areas and all over the world.
Graham Thrower, MA Local and Regional Development, and an iBUILD ESRC/EPSRC -funded PhD researcher, Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies
Having been in industry for over 20 years, I came to Newcastle as a mature student not knowing what to expect, looking to complete a Research Masters, and hoping to lay the foundations for PhD Research. The HASS Research Training Programme provided me with the tools I needed to undertake modern academic research in a digital environment; exposure to questions of theoretical perspective, ontology and epistemology that I had not previously considered; and enabled me to gain a wide network of peers who were going through the same issues as myself.
It is important that the HASS programme is multidisciplinary, as the cross-departmental links are not easily built elsewhere. Additionally it reinforced the truly multicultural nature of academia; a value that is not always appreciated enough I feel. The qualitative research sessions were directly applicable to my methodology and made me much more aware of issues around ethics and positionality. Lastly, the overall HASS programme was a key part in the success of my Masters and ultimately my securing a fully funded Doctoral Research position within the university.
Neil McClelland, Postgraduate Certificate in Research Training, and Associate Professor, University of Kitakyushu, Japan.
The HASS Postgraduate Certificate in Research Training was a great experience that both broadened my perspective and helped me develop new skills. Starting with an overview of all the major philosophical trends and influences of our times the course first of all challenged me to establish a deeper and fuller conception of myself as a professional researcher. This was then complimented by a wide choice of practical workshops that allowed me to hone and expand my knowledge of specific research methods and techniques according to a programme of my own design.
Perhaps best of all, however, was the purposefully multi-disciplinary approach adopted throughout the course that provided an ideal social environment to meet and engage with other post-graduate students from a whole range of contrasting fields and specialist interests. It is surely this interaction with a diverse range of alternative perspectives and viewpoints that has formed a lasting impression to take away from the course. I would surely recommend this course to every post-graduate student.