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Research Training Programme

The Postgraduate Research Training Programme is available to full-time and part-time postgraduate research students in the Social Sciences and Humanities at Newcastle University throughout their time studying for their research degree.

It has been recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Council as a sound foundation for doctoral studies, and provides one of the foundations of the ESRC’s North East Doctoral Training Centre and the AHRC’s Block Grant Partnership Scheme.

The Research Training Programme has its own Staff Student Committee and Board of Studies, where all modules are reviewed and student feedback discussed. The documentation (including module report forms and anonymous student feedback) are available to internal users at the above links.

The Training Programme has permanent homes in the purpose-built Faculty Doctoral Training Suite and Doctoral Training Room on the 5th Floor, Daysh Building, which provides state-of-the-art facilities for lectures, workshops and seminars. The Training Suite has its own computer cluster, with all the specialist software required for doctoral research in the Social Sciences and the Humanities.

PhD students

The extensive research training programme for PhD students provides a unique blend of cross-disciplinary and generic researcher development training that ensures that all research postgraduates can foster an interdisciplinary awareness and acquire the research skills and competencies necessary to complete their research theses. Every PhD student in the Faculty has the option of registering for a Postgraduate Certificate in Research Training, which accredits the core foundation modules on the Training Programme.

The training goes further than helping individual students to complete their specialist study, as the aim at Newcastle University is to equip all research students with a broad range of research skills and a thorough working knowledge of research project management.

Postgraduate Research Training Programme Handbooks for PhD students, 2015/16

Please note that all students will receive a hard copy handbook at registration or induction.

Along with the aim of training in a range of research skills, the programme places a strong emphasis on networking - encouraging students to develop links with each other and with members of staff other than their own supervisors. Exchanging ideas about research experience is an invaluable method of gaining knowledge, and the training programme provides a unique multi-disciplinary environment that fosters these exchanges. PhD students come to Newcastle from all over the world, and the ethos of the Training Programme is to welcome the skills, perspectives and experiences these students bring so that a multi-cultural learning environment is produced, as well as a multi-disciplinary one.

The teaching is designed to encourage interaction, with the emphasis on student involvement and hands-on experience. The contributors have been selected not only for their expertise but also for their friendly, accessible approaches.

Modules and Workshops

  • Managing your PhD
  • Introduction to Information Skills
  • The nature of Enquiry and Explanation in the Social Sciences
  • Qualitative Methodology in the Social Sciences
  • Introduction to Quantitative Methods
  • Managing Personal Development
  • Academic writing and self-editing your thesis
  • Fieldwork in Developing Countries
  • Languages for Researchers
  • Progressing your PhD
  • Research in the Wider Context
  • Risk Management in Research Projects
  • Introduction to NVIVO (a software package for qualitative data)
  • Research Ethics in a Wider Context
  • Writing across Boundaries
  • Final stages of a PhD

Each year there are two student-led research postgraduate conferences, where postgraduate researchers from across the Faculty present their work to each other in a supportive, multi-disciplinary environment. The first year conference is based on oral presentations, and there is training in planning and delivering oral presentations using various softwares, where practice sessions are videoed and discussed in small groups.
The second year conference is a showcase event and many research students choose poster presentations. Appropriate training is given in a Preparing a Poster workshop. A prize is awarded to the best showcase presentation, as judged by the participants in the conference according to criteria highlighted at the training session.

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences PhD prize

An annual PhD prize of a £200 book token is awarded to a doctoral student in the Faculty whose thesis has been highly commended the examiners.  The winner of the award is chosen by the Postgraduate Dean, and ratified by the Faculty’s Graduate School Committee.

The winners of the PhD Prize are:
2012: Rosemary Sandford, School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, and the title of her thesis was ‘Jack Clemo: Poet in White Silence, A Critical Analysis, and Stripping the Cadaver, A Collection of Poems’.

HASS Faculty Excellence in Research Training Prize

Since it was established in 2007, over 250 doctoral students have been awarded the Postgraduate Certificate in Research Training. In 2013, a prize £50 (book token) was established for the best overall performance.

The winners of the HASS Faculty Excellence in Research Training Prize are:
2013: Natalie Hoskin, PhD Sociology and Mathew Rech, Geography, Politics and Sociology
2014: Bethany Rex, PGD Cultural and Heritgae Studies and John Davis, PGD Politics.

Research Masters and IPhD students
Up to 70 credits on the Research Training Programme can be taken by students on ESRC-recognised Research Masters programmes and IPhD programmes. These students participate fully alongside the PhD students, and help create the multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural learning environment that we seek to foster on the Programme.

The modules that can be taken will vary according to the degree programme, and students are advised to consult their Degree Programme Handbooks to find out which modules are included in their degree.

A full list of modules available to Research Masters and IPhD students are provided in this Handbook:

The Miller Prize
Each year, this prize of a £50 book token is awarded for the best overall performance in the Faculty Research Training Programme modules by a research masters student.

The prize is named after the first external examiner on the Training Programme, Professor Bob Miller, from Queens University, Belfast, who suggested we reward the outstanding student in each year. The winner is decided by the Faculty Exam Board, attended by the Degree Programme Directors of all the Research Masters Programmes, the current External Examiner, and Dr Robin Humphrey, Director of the programme.

Since it was created in 2005, the following students have won the prize:

2014    Jade Wilkes          MA Human Geography  (Research)
2013    Matthew Scott         MA Human Geography  (Research)
and      Kathryn Davies        MA Sociology and Social Research
2012    Victoria Potts          MA Sociology and Social Research
2011    Robin Finlay            MA Politics (Research)
2010    Timothy Walker       MSc Rural Social Science
2009    Emily Nicholls          MA Sociology and Social Research
and      Paul McFadden        MA Politics (Research)
2008    Peter Steggals          MA Sociology and Social Research
2007    Joanne Loughlin       MA Sociology and Social Research
2006    Johanna Ferguson    MA Sociology and Social Research
and      Rachel Chedzoy       MA Human Geography (Research)            
2005    Matthew Johnson     MA Politics (Research)
2004    Danna-Michelle Lewis   MA Sociology and Social Research


Postgraduate Research Development

Mandy Chambers
HaSS Research Training Prog. Secretary

Dr Robin Humphrey
Director of Postgraduate Research Training Programme

Dr Laura Leonardo
Lecturer in PG Skills Development

Carole Milburn
Postgraduate Support Officer