Last week, myself and thirteen other IAPETUS-funded students attended the first cohort training event at the University of Durham. This NERC-funded course provided a comprehensive introduction to PhD research, with guest speakers delivering presentations on time- and project management, reviewing literature, effective reading, presentation skills, getting the most out of conferences, and career planning.
Between these sessions, we also worked in groups on an interactive ‘mini-PhD’ related to nuclear power. As a group, we had to narrow down the topic of interest to a specific research question. We decided to look at the perception of nuclear power in the UK before and after the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters. We then went through the process of producing a literature review, research plan, organising supervisions, producing a conference poster, submitting the final thesis, presenting at a conference, and ending with the dreaded viva - quite hectic for a three-day event!
This exercise provided insight into what to expect from a PhD, particularly in terms of balancing deadlings and responsibilities. Free time in the evenings also provided a great opportunity to get to know our fellow IAPETUS students with whom we will be sharing the real PhD process over the next 3-4 years.