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University holds first ever symposium for doctoral researchers who teach

A panel of three doctoral researchers at the Doctoral training symposium event.

Panels of doctoral researchers who teach shared their experiences with attendees throughout the day on a number of subjects, including what it means to be a good teacher, and what transferable skills are developed through such a role. Robert Doherty

Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise delivers a keynote speech at the Doctoral Training Symposium

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research & Enterprise) delivers key notes to attendees at the Doctoral Teacher Symposium, hosted at the M Shed. George Chan

A group of Postgraduate researchers who teach discuss in open forum style at the Doctoral Training Symposium

The event aimed to bring together doctoral researchers who teach at the University of Bristol who work across different faculties so they can share their experiences, best practice and challenges with one another. George Chan

13 July 2018

Reflecting on the relationship between teaching, learning and research with our postgraduate research community

Last week the Bristol Doctoral College welcomed 58 postgraduate researchers and academic staff to the very first Doctoral Teaching Symposium, a full-day event held at the M Shed near Bristol's scenic Whapping Wharf. The event – the first of its kind at Bristol – aimed to provide support for doctoral teachers by coordinating a platform for doctoral researchers who teach to share best practice, and to discuss the main opportunities and challenges of being a doctoral teacher in different disciplines.

Dr. Terry McMaster, Director of the Bristol Doctoral College, said: “The BDC is proud to support the large numbers of research students who teach at the University of Bristol. They occupy a special and important role in the University and we are delighted to support their professional development.”

The event brought together experts in learning and teaching, experienced researchers from across disciplines, and over 30 doctoral researchers who teach at the University of Bristol. Together attendees shaped an open-forum space to ask each other questions and learn from one another, encouraging peer-support and learning across disciplines.

Sarah Kelley, a PhD researcher in Film and Television in attendance on the day, commented how "it was really important to highlight the support available for [postgraduate researchers] who teach". Another attendee Chris Brasnett, a PhD researcher in Physics, said it was "the most useful teacher training" he'd been to yet.

The key theme of the day focused on the balance of teaching and research in doctoral degrees, and how these two central areas of an academic career overlap. The Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education, Judith Squires, delivered the day's closing notes and commented afterwards how "it was a pleasure to be at the Bristol Doctoral Teacher Symposium and see the Bristol Doctoral College work with colleagues across the University to support our Postgraduate Research Students in their teaching. Teaching and Research are mutually-reinforcing endeavours in which personal reflection is key, and the symposium was a great practical example of this."

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, described the Symposium as "a great opportunity for postgraduate research students who teach to come together as a community and learn from each other. This type of PhD student is very important to the growth of the research community in Bristol. The symposium was the first of its kind in Bristol and I am very pleased with the work of the Doctoral College in organizing it and the response to it."

The Bristol Doctoral College looks forward to continuing support for doctoral researchers who teach. The Symposium brought together enthusiastic ideas and reflections on the role of teaching in research degrees and has ignited a dialogue between researchers across the institution.

Further information

The Bristol Doctoral College grows, develops and supports the thriving community of postgraduate researchers across all research degree programmes at the University of Bristol. Find out more: bristol.ac.uk/doctoral-college

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