Peers for PhDs is a student-led project offering peer support opportunities for PhD students.
Peers for PhDs aims to improve the wellbeing of PhD students by hosting regular group meetings and social events, so that postgraduate research students can support each other through the challenges of the PhD journey. It is a friendly and welcoming group, open to all current PhD students at the University of Liverpool.
The theme of this upcoming session is ‘First Year Woes’. We will focus on group discussion and collaborative problem-solving to address some common challenges in the early phases of the PhD. Students in their second year and beyond are still encouraged to come – we are sure that you will have valuable experiences and advice about the PhD to share with first year colleagues.
In preparation, all first years are asked to think about what their three biggest PhD concerns are right now, and non-first years asked to think back to their three biggest challenges in the first twelve months and how they were overcome.
Refreshments will be provided. Please register on Eventbrite.
Are you wondering what career preparation you can do early in the PhD while keeping your career options open?
Or are you in the later stages of the PhD, and looking for advice to prepare for upcoming applications?
At the start of a three or more year research degree it is easy to feel that you have plenty of time to consider your choice of future career. In fact, you can take many actions early on whilst still keeping your careers options open. You have time to research information on potential choices and assess your personal preferences. You can also focus on your professional development, and develop skills within your research that will also promote your ongoing career prospects. This form of career planning is often referred to as ‘Planned Happenstance’, a career model that fits quite well with many academic careers. The aim is to focus on activities that motivate you and so to build a CV that will support you in a career that matches your preferences. To find out more see our online Career management resources.
The LDC Development programme provides workshops and webinars to help you at all stages of your career preparation, from more general career planning, to preparing for actual applications. We also offer further sessions to help you prepare emotionally for moving into your career after the PhD. In 2020, we will also offer a session to help you manage ‘Imposter Syndrome’. Our upcoming sessions are as follows:
new themes and a new teaching placement scheme
We, in the Liverpool Doctoral College Development team, have now launched our programme for the coming academic year, 2019-20. The workshops and webinars offered in Autumn are now open for registration and a full list of dates for our core programme for the year, organised by our programme themes, can be downloaded below.
Programme themes: A fuller introduction to all our programme themes can be found on our website together with a short video introduction to each theme. This year we have made a slight change to our themes, to separate out the topics of Writing, Presentation and Productivity, which we believe are important topics for the development of all postgraduate researchers.
We have several new workshops and webinars in our programme for
the coming year, which include:
Regional workshops – Liverpool are part of a regional group of researcher development partners, which have agreed to openly share selected programme sessions. There are two upcoming workshops offered by LJMU (registration not yet open) which University of Liverpool PGRs may attend.
to be Shy or introverted in academia’ – Thu 5 December, 2-3pm
to write well: some tips for PGRs’ – Wed 22 January, 2-3pm
Brilliant Club: For 2019- 2020, the LDC have an agreement with the Brilliant Club to provide five paid placements for PhD researchers. Under this scheme you would deliver lessons relating to their own research area in local schools, supporting pupils to develop the academic skills, knowledge and confidence needed to progress to highly-selective universities.
All PhD students are invited for coffee and a chat at 92 degrees,
Myrtle Street (opposite Vine Court) on:
Tuesday 6th August – 1pm
Thursday 15th August – 3pm
Monday 26th August – 1pm
‘Peers for PhDs’ aims to connect
PhD students from across the university so that we can support each other
through the ups and downs of postgraduate research. Campus can seem eerily
quiet this time of year, so we’re hosting an informal series of Summer Coffee
Socials instead of our usual monthly group meeting. This is open to any PhD
student wanting to take a break, meet others and relax over a hot drink. If
you’re new to Peers for PhDs, it’s the perfect way to get involved.
A group of PhD students began planning Peers for PhDs last Summer, and we
held our launch event in October 2018. We typically meet monthly and discuss a
different theme each time, as suggested by the group’s members. We’ve grown to
more than forty member and have covered a range of topics including ‘First Year
Woes’, ‘Lunchtime Destress’, ‘Protecting Your Mental Health’ and ‘Improving the
Supervisory Relationship’. Research into the wellbeing of PhD students suggests
that it is common for PhD students to lack opportunities to connect with others,
leading to loneliness and increased stress. Social connections can often feel
side-lined in a competitive academic environment, but we can all benefit from
helping each other and making some new connections.
Do you need help making academic applications? Do you urgently need support with your career thinking and planning ? Are you constantly struggling with self-doubt?
We have three events coming up that can help you prepare for your future career, in research or otherwise, including one last event offering proven techniques to help those suffering from Imposter syndrome.
Delivered by Sally Beyer, this one-day interactive workshop is for those in the final year before completion to help you make considered choices about your next steps, provide a structured process to identify personal career goals and to maximise your chances of career success.
“Great session for thinking about career goals and for putting in place a plan of action for career planning/preparation.” “An engaging workshop to get you thinking about your career options. Very thorough and really helpful!” ‘A ‘Must Attend’.’ Participants March 2019
Delivered by Sharon Nicholson, this workshop will help you enhance your chances of success in your academic applications. The workshop will help you recognise what is required in academic applications and provides practical tools to help you promote yourself and present your research, face to face and on paper.
“This was eye opening – necessary for preparation and making a good application/interview”. “Very useful & stimulating. A nice environment to work and learn in and share ideas”. Past participants.
by Sally Beyer, this workshop will help those suffering from ‘Imposter
Syndrome’ through providing proven techniques to help you understand your
issues and identifying ways to change your approach.
In a safe and supportive environment, we will consider what
imposter syndrome actually is, where it comes from and which groups of people
are more likely to suffer from it. Along with identifying how it emerges, you
will be introduced to life enhancing techniques that help you to respond to,
and progress beyond, your imposter experiences.
We are offering a new webinar that will address some of the
potential issues in the researcher-supervisor relationship, from the viewpoint
of the PhD researcher and what you might do to improve the situation. This will be followed by a Peers for PhDs
session, where you can discuss your own situation in confidence with other
students and make a plan to take things forward.
The supervision process is a key part of the PhD, but what
should you expect from this relationship and what should you do when it does
not meet your expectations? This is a session for PhD researchers to reflect on
the nature of supervision, the potential issues that might arise, and to
explore potential solutions. By taking a discussion-based approach, we will aim
to help you recognise any personal barriers and the range of approaches
available to overcome these barriers.
During this session, we will also outline the University’s
expectations of supervision and the formal steps for reporting issues with
Presented by Dr Shirley Cooper and Natasha Bradley, PhD
student in IPHS
Peers for PhDs is a group ran by PhD students at the
University of Liverpool. We aim to improve PGR wellbeing by hosting regular
peer-led support sessions and social events for research students from across
the university. It is a friendly, welcoming group and a good opportunity to
meet other PhD students. Our June session will be on the theme of ‘The
Supervisory Relationship’ – we will reflect on our working relationships with
our supervisors and what we have done or might do to improve it. Issues with
supervisors are a common source of stress and can make students feel isolated.
Even if you have a great relationship with your supervisor, you might be able
to help others gain perspective or strategies to respond to their current
The LDC Development programme includes several further upcoming workshops
under our ‘Resilience’ theme that may also be of interest to those facing
issues or difficult decisions with their research:
Here’s some thoughts from Company of Mind on the next masterclass on 28th May “Working with Difficult People“.
We don’t get career success by beating our rivals with clubs any more. In fact in most of the civilised world you’ll get locked up if you do. To the degree that is true (and it’s at least true-er than it was), it’s surely a remarkable achievement of civilisation. Even if it’s not entirely clear how we managed to progress.
Well, that’s in the physical realm anyway. But the attitude of aggressive individual winning to get to the top is the dominant image for career success. It’s commonly viewed as good and inevitable, but you could also say it’s just another primitive way of doing things that we haven’t yet got beyond; like beating each other with clubs.
I say this because a lot of people don’t really enjoy the aggressively
competitive career world, and are rather put off by it – and that’s nothing to
do with their talent or commitment. Some people love it too. Those are just
different ways that people are made up. Yet in our culture this common message
for the ‘right’ and ‘only’ way to be ‘successful’, brings problems. Understandably, given the selection pressure,
research hints at CEOs tending to score high on clinical scales of
psychopathology, which has some implications for what it’s like to work in
modern institutions. And the very people who end up in charge of things, end up
controlling the narrative of what the right way to be is, which is
self-perpetuating, reinforcing the messages everyone ends up unquestioningly
In adversity we might find opportunity too, if we look.
If (like the majority of people) you’re not motivated by the ruthlessly competitive image and that’s not the sort of person you want to become, then how do you “succeed? What does “succeed” mean if the existing criterion may be badly distorted? This is important because the further you progress in your careers, by the above reasoning, the more ‘difficult’ people you will encounter. One response is to find a niche and hide away to side-step all that. But a more interesting approach is to ask the question “How do we work creatively with the people who see, and behave in the world, quite differently?”. There are two reasons for doing this.
Firstly, if you get good at dealing with difficult people, you’ll be hugely valuable anywhere you go – especially in ‘technical’ and academic environments! Secondly , with practice and confidence, those situations become a rewarding challenge in your life. You might even look forward to opportunities for practice.
To end on another positive future note, the shift in evolutionary
studies is that cooperation out-competes competition. Whilst aggressively
ambitious individuals do well within a team, a team of creatively cooperative
people, outperforms the team with the ambitious individual (and sounds like a
better life experience too). In images,
the trend is from the satanic miils of the ‘industrial revolution’ to the
creative workplaces of technology outfits; from the “struggle for
survival” to the “snuggle for survival”; more KPop than DeathMetal. The
opportunity is to be ahead of that curve.
* This blog isn’t the content of the “Working with Difficult People” workshop. But it is a novel take on why that might be a good area in which to increase capacity and gain skills. See the advertisment for the workshop to see what that’s about.
To advance your career planning, as part of the Liverpool Doctoral College Development
programme, we are offering two
opportunities for you to gain dedicated support as you consider your options
after the PhD, a one day PGR ‘Career Ready’ Bootcamp and 1:1 Coaching/Career
Clinics. All sessions will be delivered by Sally Beyer who has specialised
career coaching experience. Sally will be familiar to many of you from our
careers half day workshops and careers webinars.
This one-day interactive workshop is aimed for Post
Graduate Researchers in the final year before completion. Wherever you are at
in your career thinking and planning, you will find this intensive, fun
This workshop will help you meet the following objectives:
equipped with new skills for managing your career
• Assess your current situation – your strengths and areas to focus on related
to work opportunities
• Identify what you really want to get from your professional life
• Build a clear picture of what you want to be doing post PhD
• Explore the importance of personal effectiveness and impact on others when
working towards your goals, i.e. your confidence, self-belief and proactivity
• Recognise how networking can help you get to where you want to be
• Discuss job searching in an ever-changing work environment
• Get feedback on your current CV
• Set goals and actions for your future
Be inspired to make your own luck, create exciting opportunities for yourself and set sail!
‘Great session for thinking about career goals and for putting in place a plan of action for career planning/preparation.’ ‘An engaging workshop to get you thinking about your career options. Very thorough and really helpful!’ Participants March 2019
The one hour
face-to-face coaching sessions are
designed to help you with
your career preparation and they are
open to all PGRs at any stage in their degree. The session is completely confidential
and may be followed with a further follow-up session by Skype, if required.
These sessions will provide focused and tailored support with issues such as:
Equipping you to create effective application forms, CVs, personal statements and cover letters for specific roles you are applying for
Preparing for interview (including carrying out mock interviews and providing feedback)
Making a positive impact within interviews/presentations – e.g. Influencing others and harnessing nerves and anxiety
Discussing career issues, e.g. expansion of your network for career success, choosing options
How to harness change as you move on from your PhD
Helping you think through self-employment, if this is a consideration.
Registration for the 1:1 Coaching/Career Clinics –Please complete the short form on the above link to provide some initial information for registration and send this, using your University of Liverpool email address to Sally Beyer, firstname.lastname@example.org. NB Your University of Liverpool email address will be used for identification.
The sessions are offered on a
first-come-first-served basis and are
limited to the first 10 applicants.
Pre-session coaching form-On receiving the form, Sally will contact you and send a further pre-session coaching form provide her with information to help her best prepare for your coaching session. Your booking will only be confirmed on completion of this pre-session form.
About your Coach: Sally is a Careers and Learning &
Development professional with over 23 years’ experience of training and
coaching people from all walks of life. Along with working for two local
Universities, Sally has worked with many private and public organisations
delivering career management support to help staff at all levels to achieve
their full potential.
Postgraduate Researcher Week offers an ideal opportunity to
meet up and network with other research students from across campus and includes
a variety of training and development workshops for postgraduate researchers.
Two events, in February and March, offer Postgraduate Researchers different forms of support for maintaining wellbeing and managing stress. These events are developed for and by PGRs. Follow the title links for further details and to book a place:
Natasha Bradley presents Peers for PhDs – February Session – Protecting your Mental Health
Peers for PhDs is a group for PhD students at the University of Liverpool. We host regular peer-led support sessions with a different theme each month – instead of facing common PhD challenges in isolation, we can learn from each other and find ways to get the most out of the PhD journey. This month the theme is ‘Protecting Your Mental Health’. We know that undertaking a PhD is risky for your mental health, but do we know what positive steps we can take to maintain wellbeing and resilience?
Lunch is included – we have the room from 12 and will start our group
discussion at 12.30.
Presenter: Priyanka Sakhavalkar, Institute of Translational
“It’s not stress that kills us, but our reaction to it” – Hans Selye
(Father of the field of stress research)
Whether it is about getting desired results of the difficult experiment,
a power presentation at the conference, or preparing for the final viva, stress
is an inevitable part of a researcher’s life. Work can become demanding and we
tend to lose our work-life balance.
Stress management is the necessary skill to enjoy not only research but life in general. Mindfulness is about being aware of the present moment. It’s the kind and compassionate way of acceptance of own self and life experiences. This is one of the proven scientific techniques for stress reduction and mind management that helps to produce a right response to stress.
In this workshop, we will focus on mindfulness and some techniques
to achieve your best performance. Join us in finding that balance for
the stressful situations in life.