Last week, 40 PhD students from 30 universities across the UK came to Cumberland Lodge for our 10th annual inter-disciplinary conference on ‘Life Beyond the PhD’.

Every year, PhD students and early career researchers gather to share their experiences, take part in training, and explore the value of doctoral research for their future careers and society more broadly. The event is unique celebration of the postgraduate research culture in the UK.

This year, delegates participated in workshops on communication, job applications, developing inter-disciplinary research proposals, and public engagement.

They also had the chance to present summaries of their research and get constructive feedback, and to hear from and network with from people studying PhDs at different institutions and in different academic disciplines.

'Part of a community'

Alexander Blower, a first-year PhD student from the Institute of Education at the University of Wolverhampton, said, ‘I can honestly say that it’s the first time during my PhD study so far that I’ve truly felt like I’ve been part of a community. The experience has had a huge positive impact on my motivation to keep going, and on my wellbeing in general.

‘It has left me motivated, energised and with a sense of purpose that will carry me on to my second year of study, and hopefully far beyond.’

'Something special'

Hayley Evans also attended. She is about to start the final year of a PhD on data privacy and social media at the University of Kent. She said, ‘I honed my interview skills, chatted to other PhDs and generally spent my time in an atmosphere which was the opposite of the isolation so often experienced as part of the PhD process. 

‘It was something special, which felt like home immediately, I genuinely felt emotional once on the train home.’

Professor Debra Humphris, University of Brighton, talking about life as a doctoral student and a supervisor

This year’s guest speakers included: Professor Debra Humphris (vice-chancellor of the University of Brighton), Dr Steve Cross (founder of Science Showoff), Dr Morgan White (author of Towards a Political Theory of the University), and Dr Tom Cutterham (lecturer in US history at the University of Birmingham).

Over the last decade, almost 450 students and early career researchers have taken part in this annual event. You can find out more about it here.

Related events