Group of happy students in a sunny garden
SoSP PGR Conference Meet-Up 2022

Presentations covered a diverse and dynamic range of subjects, from migration and national identity to disability and mental health. 

Postgraduate Researchers Sarah Turner, Egle Tsirova (the School’s PGR Representatives) and Chalisa Chintrakarn (the School’s EDI PGR Representative) discuss presenting to large audiences, overcoming challenges involved in conference management, and the ever-increasing importance of studying social policy in the modern world...

Our postgraduate conference is an opportunity to present your work, perhaps for the first time, in a more relaxed environment.

Presenting at conferences is part of academic life. While the PGR conference is a less formal and intimidating setting, it’s also a chance to see what a ‘real’ conference feels like.

It was important to us to keep the focus on the needs of our fellow PGRs. Instead of picking a single theme, we asked everyone to present what they wanted. We designed a range of themed sessions to accommodate the fact that there are a vast number of different research areas within the School and everyone has their own area of expertise.

Academic life isn’t just about research, so we asked people talk about their career journeys, too.

You don’t have to be nervous…It’s impressive enough that you’re doing a PhD and that you're able to share your work with your research community.

We loved hearing about all the excellent projects in progress within our School.

The conference isn’t just about learning to present your work and conducting a question and answer session—which is great for brainstorming!—it’s also about engaging with the work of your peers.

Watching others’ presentations allowed us to reflect on our current research in a meaningful way. You quickly expand your knowledge base within social sciences. Presenters came from a range of cultural backgrounds, offering fresh and insightful perspectives; we’re lucky to be part of such a vibrant research community.

The most challenging part of organising a conference? No matter how much you prepare, there will always be something to deal with at the last minute!

There are a lot of elements that need to be tied together when organising a conference. It’s a case of acting immediately as situations arise, which is a useful experience.

We know how it feels to be nervous, but it’s wonderful if you can join in and give a presentation.

Controlling your nerves is easier said than done, but try to see the PGR conference as a ‘dress rehearsal’ for presenting your work to larger audiences. Everyone is in the same situation as you. You don’t need to impress anyone; you’re not expected to present at the same level as academics with ten years of experience. It is impressive enough that you’re doing a PhD and that you are able to share your work with your fellow research community.

With everything going on currently in the world, social and human sciences are more relevant than ever.

Though you might not see it yet, your research can have a real, applicable impact. Right now, you might be thinking that your PhD project is just a drop in the (academic) ocean, but it’s a massive project which will be the stepping stone into your academic career and allow you to become an expert. Even if you don’t stay in academia, you’ll be able to use that knowledge to have a direct impact on our society. You’re learning to situate that research in practical application; not just establishing theories or reconfirming past research, but figuring out how you’ll truly make a difference.

If you're interested in applying for a PhD in Social Policy, explore your options here