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University Graduate College: Enhancing the experience of Postgraduate Researchers

Humanities and Social Sciences

Unlike most lab-based research, Humanities and Social Sciences students tend to organise their own research activities.

Supervision and working methods

Students have a personal programme of study specific to their own project and way of working.

Each student will also have a series of meetings with a supervisor to work through ideas and present findings. Together, they will define a research plan and tackle problems arising.

Whilst students will usually define their own research projects, it is expected that the supervisor will have some expertise in the field.

The supervisor acts as a mentor, providing access to a large base of knowledge and giving advice on relevant sources, texts and approaches.

Research groups

Students also work as part of a departmental research group in which each member (students and academic staff) has a similar research field. Students are encouraged to meet, discuss ideas and develop collaborative projects with the group.

Research groups engage in workshops, seminars and meetings for members discuss their research. This creates a healthy atmosphere and ensures students don’t feel isolated.

"Cardiff was right for me because the research being undertaken in critical theory, politics and philosophy very closely matched my own interests. I was also very impressed by the friendly and enthusiastic correspondence from the person who was eventually to become my supervisor.

Rather than applying directly to the university, I spent some months in contact with my supervisor prior to starting the course, working to refine my initial research ideas into a solid research proposal. Such preparation, and the continued contact with the school throughout the application process, helped me to make the transition from Masters student in the North East of England to PhD candidate in the south of Wales with far less difficulty than might be expected."

Phil Roberts, Final year PhD student, School of English, Communication and Philosophy