Welcome to the University of Birmingham!

Recently, Melina Delmas, PGR in Modern Languages, was giving advice to a friend of hers who is starting her PhD this September. Melina shares her helpful tips with all of us as a welcome to our new PGRs.

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Are you a new postgraduate researcher at the University of Birmingham? Do you feel a bit daunted at the thought of starting this new adventure? If so, fear not. Lucky for you the University of Birmingham has lots of resources to help you. Here are a few tips to start you off on the right foot! Continue reading “Welcome to the University of Birmingham!”

Rewards from Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

In this post, Walaipun Puengpipattrakul, a PGR in CAL, shares some of her academic and personal development experiences during her PhD study, both part-time/distant learning and full-time on-campus.

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Faculty of Arts Buildings, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok.  Photo credit: Peerawat.b

Change is inevitable in life and often perceived unfavourably, since it frequently takes our lives out of our comfort zones.  I used to perceive change as previously mentioned. However, I started to alter my perception of change to be rewarding, particularly when it takes me out of my comfort zone, after a decision to pursue my PhD study here, at the University of Birmingham.  I have had a good opportunity of being back to the University campus again after my first Master’s degree from here, but this time, as both an alumnus and a PhD candidate.

I must admit that studying a PhD together with working as a full-time lecturer is a decision which took me out of my comfort zone indeed. Continue reading “Rewards from Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone”

Feedback’s coming home!

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Our helpful and honest panel of PGRs at the PGR Writing Summer School 2018. L-R: Martine, Sian, Anna, Farhan, Frankie, Tom

This week, we’ve had the annual PGR Writing Summer School, with a range of insightful workshops on various aspects of academic and thesis writing.  And, of course, we’ve had national excitement around England’s place in the semi-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.  I’d been wondering how to tie these together for this blog, when this article on football psychology caught my eye, and chimed with a couple of comments made during the Writing Summer School.  How can we build our resilience to tackle a fear of failure and deal with difficult feedback constructively? Continue reading “Feedback’s coming home!”

Learning to teach (or teaching to learn?)

There was a time when teaching in Higher Education (HE) was treated as a bit of a necessary evil, and no doubt all of us have sat through some execrable lectures and seminars in our time.  That time is (thankfully!) behind us, and there is currently a strong focus on professionalism in teaching that fosters an excellent learning experience for students.  The Higher Education Academy (HEA) have developed a UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) and professional recognition for teaching in HE, widely used in the sector.

PGRs are an extremely important part of learning and teaching at the University of Birmingham, and many of you get involved in teaching activities across the institution.  As well as being a very rewarding activity and providing much-needed cash, those PGRs hoping to follow an academic career path will find teaching experience essential for their CV.

Continue reading “Learning to teach (or teaching to learn?)”

The viva experience – dispelling the myths

In this post, recent viva voce candidate Farhan Noordali, from the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, shares with us his experience of the viva examination. Congratulations to Farhan on passing his viva with minor corrections!

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Image credit: Safarrin

Just over a month ago, I successfully passed my viva voce examination. Needless to say, the elation, after years of sacrifice and hard work is unparalleled. However, I felt it would be worth sharing my experience and perception of the process with the hope it may provide a sigh of relief, especially to those who feel anxious about facing this final PhD hurdle. Continue reading “The viva experience – dispelling the myths”

Working from home

This week Jonathan Ward, who is part of Liveable Cities team in Civil Engineering, shares his experience of working from home as a postgraduate researcher…

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Doing my PhD from home has given me an opportunity to reflect on a few things which I’d like to share with you. It brings benefits, but also pitfalls. Continue reading “Working from home”

Turn your research into a course!

Carol Gray, a doctoral researcher at Birmingham Law School,  shares her experience with us on designing online courses…

“To teach is to learn twice”, as the saying goes.

Have you ever found yourself explaining your research to other people, then wondering how much they have taken in? Ever been tempted to set them a quick quiz to test this? (Okay, that’s probably going a bit too far….)

What about your key stakeholders or colleagues? Wouldn’t it be good to share your results with them in a format that allows the learning to count as Continuing Professional Development (CPD)? Many professionals are now required to complete a certain number of hours of CPD per year, and this can be a powerful recruitment tool for short courses.

So, why don’t you think about turning your research topic into an on-line learning module? On-line learning has become a hugely popular form of learning, either on its own or mixed with face-to-face sessions as “blended learning.” Continue reading “Turn your research into a course!”