Guidance and support

Academic guidance and training

Being a PhD student in the School of Geography

We’re committed to helping you prepare for what’s ahead in your research degree and future career.

Helping you to settle in

Whatever your motivation for undertaking a PhD, it’ll be a journey which will stimulate your passion for your subject and push the boundaries of your own and current knowledge. The work will be challenging, but we’re on hand from the outset to support you in succeeding. From Day One, you’ll benefit from a strong support network to guide you through your research degree.

Within one month of starting your degree, you’ll be required to complete a training plan to help identify your training and development needs with your supervisor. This is a great opportunity to create a personalised plan, aligned to your research.

You’ll work closely with a lead supervisor and one or more co-supervisors, who are experts in their field, providing guidance and support to your research project.

Your supervisors are your most important contact and are responsible for:

  • agreeing a research project that is original and is feasible within the standard period of study
  • conducting a training needs analysis and ensuring that you receive appropriate research training
  • undertaking a minimum of 10 supervision sessions (6 for part-time postgraduate researchers) per year
  • advising on all aspects of the research and thesis preparation
  • commenting on all your written work
  • ensuring you receive written feedback on the assessment of progress.

Supervisors will also guide you in publishing your research.

Your bespoke training plan

As a postgraduate researcher, you’ll maintain a Graduate Record of Achievement and Development (GRAD) – an essential tool in managing your research degree. This University-wide web-based application will allow you to manage your training plan, upload files and reports, track your own milestones, request and record supervisory meetings, record training and view any feedback you may have received. This is an easy way for you to keep on top of your work while reflecting on what you’ve already achieved.

Each year, within one month of registration, you will need to meet with your supervisor to discuss training and development needs for the coming year.

Develop your research skills

As a PhD student in the School of Geography, you will develop a range of research skills relevant to your project eg qualitative research methods, experimental design and maintenance, field sampling, chemical analysis, micropalaeontology, statistical analysis, data interpretation and presentation.You’ll attend a number of training courses and workshops throughout your degree to help you build a strong foundation of skills, providing you with the basics to complete each year of your studies.

In your first year, topics include Project Managing your Degree, Word for Thesis & Long Documents and Preparing for your Transfer. All the training will be delivered either through formal training at the University, by informal instruction by your project supervisors or other qualified personnel, or through external courses where appropriate. For human geographers/social scientists, training is also provided through the White Rose ESRC Doctoral Training Centre. NERC funded students receive additional training through the Leeds-York NERC DTP.

Leeds Doctoral College

The Doctoral College brings together all the support services and opportunities to enhance your research, throughout your time here. It runs regular drop-in and training sessions for our postgraduate researchers, and organises seminars and other events including the annual Doctoral College Showcase.

Your postgraduate community

When you join the School of Geography, you’ll join a friendly, supportive and diverse community of postgraduate researchers who come from all around the world. You’ll be directly associated with one of our world-leading research groups, working alongside like-minded researchers and academics. This fairly small-scale community with whom you’ll interact on a day-to-day basis will quickly become your ‘home base’.

Furthermore, you'll benefit from an active research environment through a wide range of seminars, lectures and research groups. You will be given opportunities to present results and receive constructive feedback from colleagues in your research institute. The School has a number of more informal groups which meet to discuss issues relating to their research. Examples include Peat Club, Ice Club and Selva Society (for those doing research in tropical ecology).

Additionally, both the School and the University hold annual research postgraduate conferences where students gain experience of presenting their research and receiving feedback. Students are also encouraged to submit papers for publication during their PhD and to attend national and international conferences. 

Postgraduate researcher facilities

All full-time researchers are provided with their own desk and a suitable computer, typically in an office shared with postgraduate researchers from the same discipline area. You’ll benefit from the University’s extensive IT facilities including:

  • free wi-fi across campus
  • free downloadable Office Professional Plus
  • subject-specialist software.

You can discover information resources through our Researcher@Library scheme, which offers a wide range of workshops throughout the year. Access to a wide range of journals is available online.
You’ll also be able to access appropriate laboratory facilities for your research.