Understanding Practice as Research: the first year PhD student seminars

  • Sharon Phelps: Associate Researcher, CCW Graduate School
  • Manoela Afonso: PhD student, CCW Graduate School

Brief description of session and activities

The session will take the form of a discussion between Sharon Phelps and Manoela Afonso (PhD students) in order to evaluate the student experience and benefits of the initiative introduced last year by Dr Mo Throp (PhD Supervisor) at CCW Graduate School to introduce Year 1 PhD student seminars/presentations. This dialogue between the two PhD students will allow the Graduate School the opportunity to consider how the seminars can enhance the students’ learning experience and provide a positive and productive community of researchers.

Sharon Phelps and Manoela Afonso will introduce the rationale for the student presentations. An ongoing concern within the Graduate School has been addressing practice itself as research within a PhD project and the difficulties students have had in understanding this especially in relation to the registration process.

One of the main aims has been how to develop an understanding of practice as research. Initially, for PhD students there was a real concern about the ‘theoretical’ content of the thesis. By addressing their practice we have been able to consider the practice itself as research within the aims for their PhD project. The seminars have aimed to establish a context for the work (theories/discourses and other artists work) which serve as a way of allowing a situating of their research - and identifying the body of knowledge this is contributing to.

All Year 1 PhD students attend the seminars where they present their practice to the group making a ten-minute (max) introduction to their PhD project. They are asked to address their practice in terms of the issues, concerns and discourses which underpin their practice and to address the practice itself as research.

We will allow for discussion on the format and aims of the seminars and how they might assist in an understanding and development of the student’s own practice as research.

How will students be involved in the session?

This will be a dialogue between two PhD students who took part in the presentations last year. The discussion will focus on how the students were able to focus on practice led projects as research and how they responded to the initiative by Mo Throp.

What will participants take away from the session?

Understanding how practice itself can lead a particular research project and the importance of shared concerns for researchers.

We will discuss how the aims of the seminars might enhance their own understanding of their practice as research.