The WRoCAH development programme is a structured set of activities to support you as you progress through your PhD. WRoCAH training is intended to complement the opportunities already available to you at your home institution and you are expected to make the most of these opportunities as well.
The diagram below shows an overview of the timings of the various development activities you will undertake with WRoCAH during your PhD. It shows the trajectory for a full time student but if you are a part time student, the WRoCAH office will work closely with you to ensure that you get to complete the various activities at the most appropriate way and at the most appropriate time during your research.
The goal of the WRoCAH development plan is to help you develop your research in a truly global context. You will have the opportunity to reach beyond academia and gain experience of applying your doctoral level research skills in a non-academic environment (equally valuable for aspiring academics as it is for those intending to work outside of academia). You will also gain experience of disseminating your research beyond the academy, to non-academic audiences from the general public to local and national policy makers, depending on your research area.
Although parts of the WRoCAH development are required, ie. compulsory, they are intended to be integrated as much as possible into your PhD. They should form part of your supervision discussions and inform your training plan as it changes throughout your PhD. The exception to this is the Researcher Employability Project – the intention of this is to take you away from your immediate research into a new environment to have the chance to learn and practice important transferable skills that all employers are looking for.
Read through the sections below to find out more about each year of the WRoCAH training programme.
Year 1 – What Now? Introductions, Independence, Internationalisation
Induction 1 – WRoCAH Welcome and Conference
Timing – 1/2 day, mid-October (in York)
A chance to meet your starting cohort and get a feel for the breadth of research across the three Universities. Make new friends and gain new contacts across disciplines. This half day welcome event is followed by a relaxed social evening and the day after is the annual WRoCAH Conference where students from all cohorts have the chance to present their research to an interdisciplinary audience in oral or poster format.
Induction 2 – Managing your development
Timing – 1 day, late November (in Leeds)
This one-day event is intended to give you the tools to become a self-managed and reflective learner throughout your PhD. This is to ensure that you take every opportunity to develop and build your research skills while keeping a close eye on the future and taking opportunities to develop the transferable skills that are so important in every workplace in academia and beyond.
You’ll also get a chance to learn more about the various funding schemes on offer within WRoCAH and how to apply.
Colloquium 1: What Now? Being an independent and international researcher
Timing – 2 days, February (in Sheffield)
At this event you will focus on communicating your research to others within and beyond your immediate discipline to help you develop productive collaborations in your research. How can you, as the next generation of researchers, break down the barriers that still exist between disciplines to contribute to solving the big challenges facing the world? How can you take your research and give it an international perspective and start thinking like a true global citizen?
Internationalisation Project: Exploring the international dimension of your research
Timing – March-September
This project is intended to embed the internationalisation of research into all PhD projects. Because of that, this should be an integral part of, and directly contribute to, your research topic. The Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York and WRoCAH are deeply committed to internationalism, both as a necessary feature of high-quality research and as a good in itself. We want to ensure that you can give your research meaning in an international research context, become global-minded citizens and, where appropriate, take up opportunities for international mobility and co-operation.
You will need to identify opportunities for working with individuals or organisations based outside the UK, establish contact and develop the relationship. This can done virtually or by travelling, but it will have the clear learning outcome of giving you an international perspective on your research.
Year 2 – Who With? Working with Partners and Getting Out There
Colloquium 2: Who With? Expanding horizons and partnership working
Timing – 2 days, September (at the end of Year 1, National Railway Museum, York)
This event actually comes right at the end of your first year and is intended to ensure that you are prepared for taking a step outside of academia to experience applying your research skills in a totally new environment and in an area that is not directly related to your research.
Researcher Employability Projects (REPs) are intended to be of equal benefit for you and your partner organisation and you will learn how to manage your own and your their expectations as you identify, develop and execute a successful project, including practical aspects such as costing and booking travel and accommodation. You will also learn how to evaluate that project, both during the project and afterwards to be confident that you have made a meaningful contribution to that organisation.
Researcher Employability Project
Timing – 1-3+ months sometime during your second year
This is your opportunity to spend some time away from your immediate area of research, working in a non-academic organisation where you will have the chance to apply your research skills and practice transferable skills in a different environment. Students are amazed at their own capability to adapt and thrive and find this time away from their main topic of research a refreshing change allowing them to return to their PhD research with renewed vigour. Even if you are considering an academic career, experience of working beyond the academy will stand you in good stead in a world where engagement and partnership are high up the research agenda.
We anticipate that most students will choose to spend between 1-3 months on a project with their chosen partner organisation which can be in the UK or overseas. The exact duration will depend on the project and the preferences of you and your partner organisation. It also does not have to be a solid block of time, and can be completed in shorter durations over a longer period of time depending on your personal circumstances.
You will create a project plan with your partner organisation including specific objectives to be achieved and milestones where you can check progress. You will think about what skills you want to learn and practice and how those relate to your post-PhD aspirations. This can build on your internationalisation project from Year 1 or be something totally new.
“The centrepiece of the WRoCAH training programme, Researcher Employability Projects offer a meaningful experience that is ambitious with the opportunity to explore the contexts in which employers operate, in the UK and internationally” What is a REP? Between month 15 and month 24 of your studentship, WRoCAH doctoral researchers* will complete a 1-3 month Researcher…
Year 3: Research Dissemination and Life After PhD
Colloquium 3: Knowledge Exchange and Transfer
In your third year (if you haven’t already) you will start looking seriously about the impact of your research and how you can share the new insights you have gained with audiences beyond the academy.
Some research projects are more inherently and clearly ‘impactful’ than others, but everyone’s can have even a small impact in a number of spheres, including:
Working with organisations such as the Institute for Government and History and Policy We will help you look at the impact of your research so that you can share you passion in a way that can inspire and motivate others outside of your home universities.
“Many academics believe that they have a role to make a difference in society … we are not just “doing impact” because the Government wants us to!”
Natalie Fullwood, Research Impact Manager, Arts and Humanities, University of York
Knowledge Exchange Project
If you haven’t completed a KEP yet, you will do a short project in your third year targeting a specific audience of your choice. We will help you identify and build a project that allows you to show off your research with a relevant audience. This can be done solo or in collaboration with other students within the cohort and it can be a big project or a small one. The choice is yours.
Previous projects have included
Special Projects Exhibition with York Art Gallery – “Refu(s/g)e: Visual Refusals of the Political Failures in the 21st century Refugee Crises” – an exhibition staged as part of York Festival of Ideas including film screenings, a catalogue of specially selected artworks and an online resource www.refuserefugeproject.co.uk with a blog where different people with a relation to the refugee crisis wrote about their work and response to the exhibition.
Tamanda Walker, School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science, University of Leeds
Professional workshop with Malmö Against Discrimination – focusing on issues of religion and belief in the workplace, and the way this aspect of identity intersects with other aspects of identity such as gender, sexuality and race, across a range of contexts and at the international level.
Alison Horgan, School of English, University of Sheffield
Practical project working with Primary School – introducing the idea of commonplace books to some primary school aged children and to use this as a medium for generating reflection by the pupils on their own experiences as readers.
Luke Daly-Groves, School of History, University of Leeds
Public lecture to Historical Society in Herford, Germany – ‘Herford’s Hidden History: British Intelligence Division Headquarters 1946-1951’ followed by a Q&A session, to increase public knowledge in Herford about its important past as the centre for British intelligence activities in postwar Germany, and a subsequent summary of the lecture in the Herford History Association supplement/yearbook.
Sophia Nicolov, School of English, University of Leeds
Exhibition at Left Bank Leeds and Hull Maritime Museum – “Here Be Whales” which brought together a number of artists who explored and questioned the authenticity of whale representations. It reflected, in ethical terms, material and cultural methods and how these are challenged, not only by whales’ damaged past, but also by their threatened present and speculative future.
Megan Henvey, Department of History of Art, University of York
Public lecture to Armagh and District Historical Society – regarding a new study of the Armagh High Cross, with a view to updating public signs at the site. This lecture shared the latest findings with interested local historians in order to encourage reworking of the signage to improve the visitor experience to this important and well-visited heritage site.
Year 4: What Next? Life after PhD
WRoCAH doctoral researchers are encouraged to keep a firm eye on their post-PhD aspirations from the outset of their doctoral studies. However this final year is the time to get that thesis finished (all WRoCAH doctoral researchers need to submit before their funding ends), hone your career plans and ensure your CV is up-to-date and fit-for-purpose.
Colloquium 4: What Next? Life after PhD
The final Colloquium of the WRoCAH training programme is focused on tying up the loose ends of the PhD and taking some time to seriously reflect on the next steps you will be taking after your PhD. Even for students who have had careers prior to undertaking a PhD, post-doctoral life can feel very different after spending so much time focused on research.
You will have the opportunity to participate in activities relating to:
- Managing your final few months of research, and ‘letting go’ of your precious thesis
- Being as prepared as possible for your viva examination
- Crafting your CV for different job markets
- Talking about your doctoral research experience in academic and non-academic interviews
- Medium and longer-term career and life planning
- Your personal values and how these relate to your career aspirations
Life after WRoCAH
Once you finish your thesis and take your first post-PhD career steps, we hope you will come back and share your experiences with future WRoCAH cohorts. We love to stay in touch with our alumni, we will be following your careers with interest and will welcome you back at any opportunity to events or to just say hello!