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PhD Basics

PGR Possibilities: The Doctoral College and life beyond your department

The Doctoral College at Warwick is the university body you all belong to, but you may never have realised! As Warwick PGRs, it’s your one-stop shop for all things PhD, as well as a gateway to university life beyond your department. Pierre Botcherby, PhD Life blogger and PGR Development Officer in the Doctoral College, takes you on a tour…

By Pierre Botcherby

So what is the Doctoral College?

The Doctoral College is the central university body which, in addition to your supervisor(s) and department, provides you with guidance and support across your thesis journey, right from when you were applying for the PhD through to Viva and corrections. We’re responsible for a lot of the administrative procedures which underpin the PGR journey but, increasingly, we’re also directly involved in student-facing activities to facilitate networking, links between departments and faculties, and professional development.

University House; a large three storey building with blue sky and a pavement.
The Doctoral College can be found inside University House on Warwick Campus. Image Credit: University of Warwick.

How can the Doctoral College help you during your PhD?

We work to ensure that all PGRs at Warwick have a positive experience. On the administrative side, we support PGRs with the scholarships and funding, the supervision process, and work to resolve any issues which arise. We offer various formal support structures to PGRs, including the Covid-19 extension fund (final deadline 30 January 2022), the Hardship fund, and PGR annual, sick, and parental leave. At the end of your thesis, we support the submissions, Viva, and corrections processes. We’re also more directly student facing. We run events during Welcome Weeks, organise workshops as part of our PGR Matters series, and support The Library in their delivery of PGR sessions. In Terms 2 and 3, we will host events like ‘Mini 3-Minute Thesis’ and a university-wide conference and celebration of PGR research. We fund and support a range of PhD Networks, catering for a variety of groups, needs, and interests. We also cover skills and professional development through our Researcher Development Online programme. These are all great ways to meet other PGRs from across the university.

A large building foyer with groups on people sitting and standing around some tables. There is a table with refreshments and two pull-up banners that say 'Doctoral College.'
The Doctoral College welcomes our Chancellor’s International Scholars in Autumn 2021. Image Credit: University of Warwick.

The world beyond your department

The Doctoral College is just one example of the world that exists beyond your individual departments. Getting beyond your department can make your PhD experience so much richer. Right from the beginning of my PhD, I made great friends with PGRs from all sorts of departments by attending Welcome Week and induction events. They have since provided hours of wonderful company and I even went to one of their weddings in the summer just gone. The same is true of the skills and study sessions I attended in my 1st year, or the teacher training I completed in my 3rd year. I’ve also been heavily involved in an interdisciplinary research group, the Warwick Oral History Network, which has given me the chance to meet and work with staff and PGRs from across all the social sciences and humanities.

Keep your eyes out for the variety of PGR events and opportunities offered by other bodies and departments across Warwick. The Library, for example, do a range of regular PG networking and study break events, including PG Tips (Tuesdays), Research Refresh (Thursdays), and PGR(Tea)chers (first Wednesday of each month).

Right from the beginning of my PhD, I made great friends with PGRs from all sorts of departments by attending Welcome Week and induction events.

Pierre, PhDLife Blogger

Those of you who teach, meanwhile, will benefit hugely from the Academic Development Centre’s range of training programmes: not only do they provide excellent guidance and a recognised qualification, but they are a great opportunity to meet like-minded tutors from across the university. The Warwick Postgraduate Teaching Community is a fledgling effort to encourage these links to continue more informally beyond these courses.

And all this is not to forget the huge range of sports clubs/facilities and societies also open to all members of the university community. Life as a PGR is not just about the thesis itself and it doesn’t have to be limited to your own department. Get out there and explore the wider university world, and you’ll have a far richer, varied, and enjoyable PhD experience.

Get involved!

We’re always happy to help you at the Doctoral College so don’t hesitate to explore our website to find out more about what we can do for you. You can also follow us on Twitter, @DC_Warwick and @WarwickRSSP. You can also reach us via email at doctoralcollege@warwick.ac.uk .

And, as Term 2 gets underway, why not join us for a campus walk, a chance to see some bits of Warwick you may not have seen before and meet PGRs from across the university. Tuesday 11 January, 14.00, meeting at the Bus Interchange (weather-dependent!). Book via SkillsForge.


Do you have any questions for the Doctoral College? Leave a comment below, tweet us @ResearchEx or email us at libraryblogs@warwick.ac.uk

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