PhD's in Pandemics - a pragmatic guide for how to pick up the pieces, take control and regain the momentum in our research.

Join us during the week of 22-26 March 2021 for a series of events exploring the effects of the pandemic on research projects, wellbeing, resilience and mental health.

We’ll help you:

  • understand how this year has affected research and researchers,
  • evaluate the real impact of this year on your research project,
  • plan for an improved experience in the coming months, 
  • prepare for the next stages of your professional life in the context in which we are living

View the timetable below for more information and register for sessions on the course booking system.

  Morning Session(s) Afternoon Session(s) Register


22 March

Where are we now? 

This week marks a year since the UK went into lockdown, and without doubt the impact on us, our research and our PhDs has been dramatic. 

This first session of the week is designed to help you to get a realistic understanding of where you are now in your PhD studies, taking account the impact of covid on your work.  You will hear from a variety of colleagues, supervisors and senior research staff who will share their stories of how work, research, wellbeing, and expectations of what should and shouldn’t have been done, have changed throughout the last year.

 Irene and Caron will then lead you through their findings from working with hundreds of individuals – highlighting the very normal optimism and wobbles, challenges and opportunities that have faced all of us as we navigated, and continue to address, the issues raised by researching through a pandemic.

By the end of the morning you will see how your experiences align with the ‘norms’ of what we are all experiencing in these far from normal times.


Understanding Anxiety

As a PGR student are you anxious and worried about your PHD during this pandemic? Then join Namrata and Rhona for a 60 minute presentation on the biology of Anxiety. You will gain practical tools to help calm yourself down, focus on what’s going on in your body, and challenge the negative narrative you may be experiencing  regarding your PHD.  


Morning: Book this session

Afternoon: Book this session


23 March

A Simple Gap Analysis

This morning’s session is a reality check and pragmatic gap analysis of where you are up to in your PhD against where you feel you SHOULD be at this stage.  This session will help you to identify the reality of your situation, and therefore what all of that means.  We will also look at whether, as a result of this gap analysis, there are some conversations that would now be useful.

Courageous Conversations

This workshop will take a look at difficult, challenging and courageous conversations – what they are, why we need to have them, and a process for handling them.  This workshop is a 90-minute introduction to the online learning course, and we will be happy to work through some of your own challenges with you to help you to prepare for some of the conversations that you may need to be having with your supervisor(s).


Morning: Book this session

Afternoon: Book this session


24 March

Prioritisation, Planning and Productivity

We all know that this past year has been challenging – sometimes it’s hard to know what we should be doing, and sometimes, even if we do know what do to it’s hard to get the enthusiasm for actually getting things done.  This morning therefore we are going to have a look at procrastination – why we do it, and how to avoid the procrastination trap, a method for really effective prioritisation, and how to make plans in times of uncertainty.

Defining and Refining Research Questions

This workshop is designed for those who may feel their research questions are too broad or the research they are undertaking feels unfeasible. This session will help you define your research questions, work through the problems these may present, and learn ways to refine the scope of the questions to more distinct and precise parameters. You will feel more in control of the project at hand and your research will result in more impactful outcomes. This workshop will give you tools to help you plan your PhD thesis as well as upcoming articles.


Morning: Book this session

Afternoon (1): Book this session 

Afternoon (2): Book this session

Planning in Action

This session is a version of a ‘shut up and write’ session where together we will build a plan a really pragmatic and realistic plan for your research for the next 3-6 months – and we will complete this in the workshop.


25 March

From Challenge to Momentum

This morning is a group coaching session that will provide Practical tips, help & support to help you to turn your very real current challenges into what are you ACTUALLY going to do now – generating the momentum that you need to make real progress over the coming few months.

7 Reasons You'll Pass your Viva

It's normal to feel nervous, worried or uncertain before your viva. The viva is important and there's plenty of space for doubts about yours and what might happen - but the reality is that there are many reasons to feel good about your viva and the outcome! In this 1-hour live session you will:

  • learn why you can feel positive about your viva and the outcome;
  • explore what the viva is really all about and what you can do for it;
  • find answers to any questions troubling you now - once you have an answer you can focus on what you need to do.

You don't need to prepare anything in advance of the session, but you might want paper to hand for making notes. The session will be delivered live by Dr Nathan Ryder. 

Morning: Book this session 

Afternoon (1): Book this session

Afternoon (2): Book a coaching session

One to One Coaching

The opportunity for a 20-minute 1:1 coaching session with either Irene or Caron to help you to work through your own personal challenges.


26 March

Preparing for your next role

Two of the biggest challenges facing our applications for jobs, funding or other opportunities is our ability to get all of the skills, knowledge and experience that we have efficiently onto paper, and how to feel comfortable when it comes to being interviewed for these opportunities.  This morning’s two workshops will take you through these, so that you can effectively document all that your PhD has given you, and be prepared to present it really well in interview situations.

Career Options

It can be a challenge knowing what we are going to do once our PhD is done, and it’s never too early to start to think about what might be possible.  This afternoon session will explore with your peers all of the different things that you could do with your PhD to help you to identify what may be your next career move.  We will finish by hearing from some Alumni Voices, all of whom got their PhD from Aberdeen and have used that as a springboard to really varied careers.  These inspiring PhDs will show you just some of the many exciting opportunities that await once you have finished your research degree.


Morning: Book this session

Afternoon: Book this session