Conference Schedule

PhD Today Conference, Manchester Conference Centre
Monday 2nd December 2013:

8:30-9:00 Registration and coffee
9:00-9:15 Welcome
9:15-10:00 Keynote: Chris Millward (HEFCE),  ‘Patterns and Policies in Postgraduate research’
10:00-11:00 Keynote Funding Panel*
Dr. Ann-Marie Coriat (MRC)
Professor Peter Batey (North West Doctoral Training Centre)
Dr. Robert Sorrell (BP)
11:00-11:30 Coffee
11:30-12:00 Student talks: Funding
Claire Hoolahan (Humanities), title tbc
Molly Maneck (EPS), ‘Funding: It’s Personal’
12:00-12:30 Student Talks: ‘My Topic Has Chosen Me’
Aimee Harragan (Humanities), ‘Youth, Politics and Place: Political Engagement among Young People in Manchester’
Amani Alied (Humanities), ‘Locating the Self Against the Festive March of Death’
12:30-1:00 Poster session** (to run on flexibly into lunch)
1:00-2:00 Lunch
2:00-2:45 Keynote Professor Aneez Esmail (Associate Vice-President for Social Responsibility & Equality and Diversity), title tbc
2:45-3:45 Student Talks: Social Responsibility and Engagement
Adrian Harwood (EPS), ‘Improved versatility of hybrid noise prediction schemes’
Andrew Shepard (MHS), ‘Psychiatry – Beyond measuring and counting as an outcome measure?’
Diana Busra (Humanities), ‘Developing innovative human capital in Malaysian polytechnic students through changing lecturers’ beliefs’
Kelly Bogue (Humanities), ‘On the Inside Looking In: Researching the Bedroom Tax and the New Insecurity of Tenure in Social Housing’
3:45-4:15 Coffee
4:15-5:00 Keynote: Prof Helen Haste (University of Bath), ‘Surprise! Ethical issues do not only afflict those whose Doctorate of Philosophy is in philosophy’
5:00-5:15 Plenary, Goodbyes, Prizes

* The funding panel will be structured by a set of previously submitted questions from attendees, and there will be opportunity for breakout discussion and further questions that may arise from these.

** The poster session and student talks will be judged by a panel comprised of postdoctoral researchers, Vitae representatives, as well as some of the keynote speakers. There is a first and second prize available for both the talks and the posters (of an iPad and Amazon vouchers respectively), which will be announced in the plenary.  

To register, click on the button below:

Registration will remain open until midnight GMT on Wednesday 27th November.

Registration Now Open

We are pleased to announce that registration for PhD Today 2013 is now open – just follow the link below:

A full conference schedule will be available in the coming week; in the meantime, check out our distinguished keynote speakers. We look forward to seeing you in a few weeks!

Registration will remain open until midnight GMT on Wednesday 27th November.

Keynote Funding Panel: Speakers Announced

A key part of PhD Today’s focus will be on funding: where it comes from, the forms of research it both encourages and discourages, and its subsequent impact on knowledge and the economy. We are delighted to announce a Keynote Panel on this issue, involving figures with first-hand experience of the questions it poses. Attendees will be able to ask questions and participate in a debate at the end of the panel.

The panel members so far include Dr. Ann-Marie Coriat, head of the highly influential Medical Research Council, and  Professor Peter Batey, Director of the ESRC division of the North West Doctoral Training Centre. We expect to confirm the remaining participants very soon.

Guardian Roundtable: ‘What next for postgraduate students?’

“What has become clear is that for a sector focused on gathering and assessing evidence, postgraduate education has been surprisingly poor at researching itself. Before anyone starts making major decisions about what should happen to postgraduates in future, more information is needed about what they are like now.”

This paragraph, from the Guardian’s recent article on postgraduate education, succinctly expresses the motivations for the PhD Today conference. At a time when the future of UK Higher Education is coming to the fore of government policy, it seems imperative that postgraduate students come together to discuss and debate the key issues, such as:

  • the huge rise in the number of postgraduate students since 1990 (the PGR population quadrupled in 1991 and doubled again over the next decade).
  • imbalances in gender (twice as many male undergraduates than female undergraduates progress to PGR), class (with the rise in tuition fees, debt is likely to be a significant problem for unfunded PGRs), and race (the number of graduates from certain ethnic groups going on to study research degrees has been described as “shockingly small”).
  • the reasons for PGR study: do we want to produce an effective workforce or an educated society? Is it possible to do both? What role do funding and future employment play in the production of knowledge?
  • how do these problems interact with the divide between university disciplines? What effect does specialization have on knowledge and society?

We’ve enjoyed reading your abstracts so far, and look forward to receiving more in the coming days.

Keynote Speakers

We will be adding the details of other distinguished speakers in the coming weeks.


Professor Helen Haste (Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Bath)

Prof Helen Haste has a long record of research on the interface between science and culture, including work on the moral, political, and social consequences of inter-disciplinarity. Her critical interventions on feminism and humanism have developed out of an important 1993 study, The Sexual Metaphor. She told The Psychologist in 2009: “Innovation – in all fields – happens on the margins. If someone praises your work as ‘mainstream’, be worried.” See the whole interview here.

Check back for more keynote announcements in the coming weeks.

Call For Papers

We are pleased to announce the official Call For Papers –



[An Interdisciplinary conference at Manchester Conference Centre, 2nd December 2013]

What motivates you to do your PhD?

What does your PhD mean to you, to the world, and to society?

What are your expectations, and the expectations of you?


Although the subject of a PhD is specific, each of us has to face similar challenges of the modern world. By sharing the context and reasons behind our PhD, we believe that we can foster a strong community spirit where, together, we can face these challenges:

  • Why is it important for us to do research?

Do we research to understand ourselves or to improve the social condition? To acquire knowledge about the world and satisfy our natural curiosity, or improve our qualifications and get a better salary after graduation?

  • What is our place in society?

What place does a doctorate have a society? What are society’s views and opinions of PhD’s? What are a doctorate’s social and moral obligations towards society?

  • How much does research depend on where money come from?

Does the selective nature of funding limit or enhance postgraduate research? Why do firms fund PhD students and why do university-industry partnerships exist? Should certain research occur, even if money is available?

  • Does it all depend on the subject?

Is there a divide between the sciences and humanities, and does society need them unified?

This free, two day conference organised by postgraduates of Manchester’s Doctoral College seeks to provide a unique platform for members of the University of Manchester postgraduate community to share both their research, and their reasons, motivations and challenges behind their PhDs. It is hoped that through such dialogue horizons will be broadened and new insights gained that will help shape better researchers for the modern times.

Call for Talks

We invite potential authors to submit abstracts of 150 words on the context behind their PhD. Talks may be related to any of the fore-mentioned issues, or any other which is felt to be of great importance. Successful authors will get the opportunity to present a 15 minute talk on their views and opinions, and engage in discussion with an interested inter-disciplinary audience.

Call for Posters

We invite potential authors to submit abstracts on their content of their PhD. Successful authors will get a unique opportunity to present their work to a non-expert audience from Manchester’s post graduate community.

Abstracts should be submitted to: The deadline for abstracts is Friday 11th October 2013. Successful candidates will be notified by Monday 21st October 2013.


For any questions you might have about the Call, please either email the address above or use the contact form below. We look forward to reading your ideas.