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The University of Southampton
Doctoral College

What is a PhD for? Festival Fringe Debate

No festival is complete without its own fringe event!

Event Details

14:00 - 15:00  26 May, 2016
Building 67/1027, Highfield Campus

Book your space

What is a PhD for?

Snoopy comic

‘Traditionally’ the doctorate was pursued by a few people in a select group of institutions, but since the 1980s there has been a dramatic increase worldwide in the number of researchers undertaking doctoral research.

Where the doctorate was once seen as the ‘apprenticeship’ for an academic career, without a corresponding increase in the number of academic posts, the question arises: ‘what is the PhD for’?


Dr Russell Bentley, Associate Professor of Political Theory and the University's Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor - Education, and Dr Julie Reeves, Researcher Development Coordinator, Professional Development - ILIaD, will express differing viewpoints on the purpose of the doctorate and discuss the ‘overproduction’ of PhDs.

The discussion will be chaired by Professor James Vickers, Professor of Mathematics and Director of the Doctoral College.

Open to all

We invite postgraduate researchers and their supervisors to join in the discussion and we hope that every PGR will leave this fringe event pondering what they are doing a doctorate for – in the nicest of ways of course!

Festival events to book in advance...

iSolutions workshops

iSolutions Workshops

Want to be a Word wizard? To make great research posters? A series of workshops tailored to PGR needs.

Dr Steve Cross

Presentation Skills Workshop

Comedian and science communicator Dr. Steve Cross will help to boost your confidence and refine your presentation techniques.

digital storytelling

Digital Storytelling

There is always more than one way to tell a story. A workshop on Video Abstracts.

Festival events advisable to book, but there may be spaces on the day...

PGR wellbeing project

PGR Wellbeing Project

A feedback session on key findings, and possible next steps, from the PGR Wellbeing Project.  

voices of experience

Voices of Experience Q&A

Pick the brains of those who have gone before you. A Q&A session with late-stage PGRs and ECRs.  

fesitval fringe debate

What is a PhD For?

Speakers will debate differing viewpoints on the purpose of the doctorate and discuss the ‘overproduction’ of PhDs in our Fringe Debate.

live storytelling

Evening of Live Storytelling

Researchers talk about the ups and downs of life and research, in 'Coffee #1' in Portswood. In partnership with Touch.  

DTC showcase

Doctoral Training Showcase

Showcasing the high-quality research that has come through Doctoral Training initiatives. Student talks, posters and training workshops.    

pint of science

Pint of Science

Falling within the Festival period, bringing research to your local pub.

film screening

Film Screening

The Straight Story, directed by David Lynch. This film shows 'resilience' at its best.

bright club

Bright Club

Combining research with stand-up comedy to educate and entertain! Find out more information and enter here.

Festival events to drop-in to...

support services fair

PGR Support and Services Fair

What support is availalbe to you as a doctoral researcher? Drop-in to our fair and find out. Please note: PGR CV Clinic to be booked in ADVANCE.  

Career pathways

Pathways to a Scientific Career

Listen to a panel of scientists discuss their career paths followed by a Q&A session. 074/02 NOCS, Mon 23 May, 3:00pm - 4:30pm.

poster display

Humanities Poster Display

A range of Humanities research posters will be on display throughout the Festival, in Building 65, South Corridor at Avenue Campus.

Also within the Festival...

opposites attract

Opposites Attract

Pairs of researchers are collaborating on projects to be showcased at the end of the Festival - follow their progress here.  

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