Our Development Programme for 2019-20

New events, 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.

Themes display

Programme timetable for Autumn 2019, including links for registration [web link]
LDC Development Programme 2019-2020 [PDF]

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.

New sessions: 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.

  • ‘How to be Shy or introverted in academia’ – Thu 5 December, 2-3pm
  • ‘How 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.

To find out more, see the website information on our Careers Theme page or join Webinar: The Brilliant Club: meaningful, paid teaching experience for PhDs at 12:30 on the 13 Nov.

And now,

So what’s your development plan for 2019-20?

PhD students invited to Summer Coffee Socials

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.

 You can join the Peers for PhDs mailing list by emailing hsrheah@liverpool.ac.uk and find the ‘Peers for PhDs’ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/LivuniPGRsupportgroup

Posted by Shirley Cooper on behalf of Natasha Bradley, PGR Support Group.

Looking to the future – or do you need to overcome your Imposter Syndrome first?

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.

PGR ‘Career Ready’ Boot Camp  13-Jun      09:15 – 16:00

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

Get that Academic Job!                                27-Jun      09:15 – 12:30

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.

Pushing Beyond Imposter Syndrome              04-Jul       09:15 – 12:30

Delivered 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.

How is your relationship with your Supervisor?

Webinar: Responding to challenges in the supervisory relationship 3rd June 12:30
Peers for PhDs – The Supervisory Relationship 12th June 12:30 – 2:30pm

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.

Webinar: Responding to challenges in the supervisory relationship 3rd June 12:30

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 supervision.

Presented by Dr Shirley Cooper and Natasha Bradley, PhD student in IPHS

Peers for PhDs – The Supervisory Relationship 12th June 12:30 – 2:30pm

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 situation.

Further workshops

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:

Working with Difficult People                            28-May          09:15 – 16:30

Problem Solving and Decision Making             18-Jun            09:15 – 16:30

Getting Unstuck as a Researcher                      19-Jun            10:00 – 15:00

Pushing Beyond Imposter Syndrome                04-Jul              09:15 – 12:30

Must you compete ruthlessly to succeed? What if you don’t want to be like that? A lateral take on working with difficult people*

The LDC Development Team is running a series of four masterclasses on thinking, organising and collaborating facilitated by Dr Adrian West and Sophie Brown from Company of Mind.

Register now for the following face-to-face workshops in this series:


Working with Difficult People – Tuesday, 28th May 9:15 – 16:30 hours

Getting Organised for Research (and Life) – Thursday, 6th June 9:15 – 16:30 hours

Problem Solving and Decision Making – Tuesday, 18th June 9:15 – 16:30 hours

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 believing.

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.

Dr. Adrian West & Sophie Brown, Company of Mind, www.companyofmind.com contact adrian@companyofmind.com

PGR ‘Career Ready’ Bootcamp 13 June and 1:1 Coaching/Career Clinics

Seeking extra support with your career planning?

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.

PGR ‘Career Ready’ Bootcamp  Thurs, 13 June 2019, 09:15 – 16:00

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 workshop beneficial.

This workshop will help you meet the following objectives:

• Be 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

1:1 Coaching/Career Clinics

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 ClinicsPlease 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, sallywn@liverpool.ac.uk.
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.

To find out more about Sally please take a look at her LinkedIn profile:   https://www.linkedin.com/in/sally-beyer/.

Mental Health and mindfulness – two PGR-led sessions

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:

Peers for PhDs – February Session – Protecting your Mental Health

Tue, February 19, 2019   12:00 PM – 2:30 PM

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.

Becoming a mindful researcher

Fri, 15 March 2019  09:30 – 12:30 GMT

Presenter: Priyanka Sakhavalkar, Institute of Translational Medicine

“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.

Introducing Peer Support for Postgraduate Researchers

Would you like to join a peer support group for PhD students at the University of Liverpool?
image of people talking
Three PhD students from across the University are working with the LDC Development Team to improve the support available for PGRs. This peer support group will hold regular meetings off campus, focusing on a different theme each session – ranging from practical issues in academia and project management, to wellbeing threats and strategies for resilience. The group will emphasise problem-solving and supporting each other in navigating the PhD journey.

The first meeting will be held during Researcher Development Week. Come along to an informal session to meet fellow students and find out more:

Peer Support for PGRs – introductory session
Thu 11 October 2018
11:00 – 12:30

Lunch is included – please register in advance

This initiative was launched following recent research into the wellbeing and unmet support needs of PhD students. A team of PhD students from across the university sought the perspectives of fellow Liverpool students by organising a focus group for PGRs working in a range of research areas. It explored the challenges involved in doing a PhD at this university and discussed the supportive resources that are currently available.

Focus group attendees were able to identify wellbeing issues, discuss their PhD experiences, and provide recommendations for future support. It was recognised that there is a high degree of loneliness and uncertainty in undertaking a PhD, and it is not always clear who is best to approach for impartial support and advice. Although certain groups of students may be more vulnerable, there appears to be some common ground amongst students in the causes and consequences of stress. There are multiple sources of loneliness during the PhD, and these can be compounded by a lack of contact with peers and a working environment that can limit opportunities to share wellbeing concerns with departmental colleagues.

These conversations have informed the new approach for this academic year, which aims to provide opportunities for PhD students to develop a supportive peer network, through regular group sessions. All current PhD students are welcome, and we particularly invite those in the middle and later stages of their PhD.

If you are unable to attend the opening session, please feel free to express your interest in the initiative by contacting Natasha Bradley natasha.bradley@liverpool.ac.uk

Support for PGRs – Have Your Say!

2-3:30 pm 27th June   Faculty Room 4, Faculty Suite, 2nd floor, Central Teaching Hub

Delivered by postgraduate researchers:

Natasha Bradley, Institute of Psychology, Health and Society
Lorna Bryant, Institute of Translational Medicine
Rachel Heah, School of Law and Social Justice

What are the support needs of postgraduate researchers?
How can we improve the resilience and wellbeing of PhD students at UoL?
Would peer support groups be useful, what format should they take?

As part of the upcoming LDC Researcher development week, we are embarking on a fact-finding mission to inform our approach for the next academic year.
Come participate in an informal group discussion on the challenges involved in doing a PhD.

This is a real opportunity for you to use your experience to improve the wellbeing of current and future postgraduate students.

All PhD students and early career researchers welcome!

Please register your attendance to receive an email reminder and venue instructions.

Support for PGRs – Have Your Say!2-3:30 pm 27th June

Anyone who would like to contribute their thoughts, but does not wish to attend this session, is welcome to email us at Natasha.bradley@liverpool.ac.uk.


This event forms part of LDC Researcher Week. See the Researcher Week timetable for information of further events that week.