Doing a PhD is not easy, and the School’s supervisory system and research training programmes have been carefully designed to provide you with the very best foundations for successful completion, and for a successful post PhD career.
Expert and supportive supervision lies at the heart of any successful PhD. At Queen Mary, you will work with two supervisors who together will provide you with clear guidance and support throughout your studies. Supervision will be led by your Primary supervisor, who will be an expert in your chosen field of research and who will advise you on the principal aspects of your research (literature, methods, analysis and interpretation, and writing strategies), assist you in identifying research and other training needs, and offer direction and support in moving on to the next stage of your career. In the first year you will typically meet with your Primary Supervisor fortnightly, with more or less frequent meetings in Years 2 and 3 depending upon your needs and the stage of research you are at.
You will also be appointed a Secondary Supervisor, who you will see less frequently and who will provide you with broader expertise on which to call upon, offer continuity of supervision if your Primary Supervisor is absent (due to illness or study leave, for example), and more personal contact with other members of the School. Where appropriate, for example, where a non-academic partner institution is involved in your research, you may also have an additional Advisor drawn from the relevant organization.
All of the School’s supervisors receive regular training, and staff may not act as a Primary Supervisor unless they have already supervised a student to the successful completion of a PhD.
The School believes that training is a crucial part of the PhD process; helping you to develop the skills necessary to undertake the PhD and the further research and transferable skills that will enable you to develop a successful career post PhD. As a result, our PhD students follow a carefully designed training programme that covers both subject specific research skills and personal and professional development.
This program is supplemented throughout by the opportunities afforded to our students through the School’s numerous seminar and research meetings (see Research Environment and Facilities) as well the opportunity to undertake some paid demonstrating work to help develop your teaching skills.
Human Geography training
The School offers a suite of training programmes for its human geography students. Most training falls within Year 1, but with further advanced training in Years 2 and 3. Which parts of this training you complete depends upon your prior research training experience and needs.
First year PhD students without a Masters in Geography or related social science subject from an ESRC recognised training outlet take the School’s own ESRC recognised training module GEG 7113 Social Science Research: Methods and Methodologies (taught jointly with the Department of Geography, UCL). This highly innovative and well regarded course provides access to a wide range of research expertise and facilitates, and the rapid establishment of an extensive research network consisting of other postgraduate students and staff across the two Schools. Those new to Geography may also take the School’s Thinking Geographically Masters module, providing an advanced in introduction to key approaches and issues of concern in contemporary Human Geography.
The School also provides a programme of advanced training through Years 2 and 3. Training sessions are designed to provide additional, advanced research, methodological and transferable skills for PhD students at different stages of their research careers. Sessions are taught by members of the School and take the form of 2-3 hour workshops open to other social science PhD students across QMUL. Topics include: Working with Translators, Politics of Overseas Fieldwork, On-line Surveys, Archives for non Historians; Spatial Statistics; and Working with Museums. Further, more specialist sessions are convened on relevant topics (for example, Publishing in Geography) at lunch times specifically for the School’s PhD students.
Physical Geography/Environmental Science training
Most training for Physical geography/environmental science students falls within Year 1 of the PhD, with students taking two specially designed modules – GEG 7203 Physical Geography Research and Practice, and GEG 7204 Project-Specific Research Training. In Years 2 and 3 advanced training is undertaken by a variety of mechanisms, including attending short courses or workshops, demonstrating on undergraduate modules, and participating in school outreach activities, with the mix of mechanisms tailored to meet your needs. The whole programme is greatly enhanced by the opportunities you will have to access state-of-the art equipment in the School’s own recently refurbished laboratories as well as in the Centre for Micromorphology (CfM) and Centre for Aquatic and Terrestrial Environments (CATE) at Queen Mary.
Further training in Personal and Professional Development
The School’s own training programme is further enhanced by the training opportunities provided by College. College training focuses mainly, but not only, on issues of personal and professional development (writing and presentation skills, teacher training, intellectual property rights, ethics, dissemination and publication, and so on). It is delivered through 3 outlets: The Faculty programme in Personal and Professional Development each Wednesday afternoon through semesters 1 and 2 of years 1-3; the College’s Learning Institute, which provides a comprehensive set of free training sessions and workshops relating to Personal and Professional Development for staff and students; and the College’s Careers Service, which provides advice on an individual basis by appointment on a range of career opportunities for post PhD. For those that require it, language training is available through the College’s Language Training Unit.