The Journal of Graduate Education

The Journal of Graduate Education (ISSN 1354-0653) was established in 1994 and has been sponsored throughout by the NPC as a peer review academic journal, publishing occasionally, comprising three volumes, up until 2006. Its aims:

  1. to provide a forum for the discussion of issues relating to the development of graduate education in the United Kingdom;
  2. to disseminate good practice in graduate education;
  3. to stimulate interest and research in the area of graduate education.

The contents with abstracts are listed below.

If you are interested in receiving back issues, please contact Dr Martin Gough at

The subscription rates per full volume of four issues are £36 (institutions), £24 (individual non-students) and £12 (individual students), or £9 per issue, or £3 per article (the per article rate and the per issue rate, subject to availability of spare copies, is waived to members of institutions affiliated to the NPC).

The new (in 2008) International Journal of Graduate Education incorporates the old Journal of Graduate Education and NPC affiliates will receive a copy gratis. If you are interested in submitting a piece for the Journal, whether a research article, or a more speculative reflective piece on your experience, or a report of an event or initiative, please contact Martin Gough at


Journal of Graduate Education, Volume 1, Issue 1


The Right Honourable William Waldegrave, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for Science and Technology welcomes the Journal of Graduate Education and discusses the responses to the Science and Technology White Paper.

In at the deep end - postgraduate students' experience as tutors

Kath Smart

Postgraduate students who undertake teaching form a useful resource for departments, but often lack training and support in this role. This paper surveys previous work on postgraduates who teach, and discusses the experience of postgraduate tutors at Lancaster University.

Towards a more structured approach to PhD training in chemistry

Frank C Walsh & Graham A Mills

There is now considerable government-based pressure to modify the training involved in doctoral programmes and to incorporate a more structured, 'teamwork and management-style' approach. These changes are discussed and the driving forces are highlighted. The need to secure sound information by recognised educational research methods before making changes in the nature of PhD training is emphasised.

Accommodation of research students

Bob Gross

Research students require a variety of academic accommodation in which to carry out their work. In this paper, Bob Gross, former Postgraduate Officer at the LSE Students Union, argues for improved provision for postgraduates, and also puts the case for common space for use by groups of students.

Making a difference: graduate women at Cambridge university

Felicity Hunt

It has long been recognised that women are under-represented in academia. Felicity Hunt details a report on the status of academic women at Cambridge University, and the Springboard scheme which aims to encourage more women into graduate education, and from there into academia.

Surviving the viva : unravelling the mystery of the PhD oral

Peter Burnham

The MPhil and PhD 'viva voce' examination can be a mysterious affair for academics and students. This paper provides a guide for candidates on the workings of the oral, and also gives advice on other aspects of the examination process such as choosing examiners.

Journal of Graduate Education, Volume 1, Issue 2


Roger Brown, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Quality Council, discusses whether there is a need for a coherent national framework for addressing quality issues in relation to graduate education.

Research training at Leeds Metropolitan University

Sue Clegg

Leeds Metropolitan University provides research training for all its postgraduate research students though the Postgraduate Certificate in research Methodology. The paper describes the processes which made possible the development of University-wide provision from within the existing research community, and outlines a preliminary assessment of the experiences of the first group of students.

Student Perspectives in Graduate Education: Taught Postgraduate Courses

Jamie Darwen

The National Postgraduate Committee published its first set of guidelines for taught postgraduate courses, following a period of research and consultation. This paper summarizes the discussions which took place and highlights the need for adequate mechanisms for student feedback and representation.

Development and Implementation of a Scheme at the University of Birmingham to Train Postgraduate Students in Teaching Skills

Ann Morton

Over the last eighteen months the University of Birmingham has developed and implemented a scheme to provide training in teaching skills to its postgraduate students, to make them more effective in the teaching roles that they undertake. This paper details the training and initial evaluation of the exercise.

The Gender Deficit: Putting policy into practice

Lee-Ann Tunstall & Dominic Wilkins

More women are now studying in higher education institutions than ever before but their representation amongst faculty positions is still poor. The proportion of women drops from the postgraduate study level onwards and, in order to discuss this gender deficit, a special session was organised at the 1994 NPC conference. This paper reports on this session and discusses the issues which it raised.

Report on the UK Council for Graduate Education Conference, University of Nottingham, 27-28 July 1994

Report on the National Postgraduate Committee Conference, Cambridge University Graduate Union, 29-31 July 1994

Journal of Graduate Education, Volume 1, Issue 3


Ian Halliday, Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Wales, Swansea, discusses the problems and successes of setting up their Graduate School.

Reflections on the status of a doctoral defence

Godfrey Baldacchino

There is a dearth of published material exploring the PhD 'viva voce' examination as a particular social encounter where a critical relationship obtains between student and examiner. This paper examines the problems of viva dynamics, arguing for a better understanding of how and why a viva is a 'lottery'.

Reflexivity in Postgraduate Research Training: The Strathclyde Business Faculty Experience

Andy Lowe & Rowena Murray

This paper is an explanation of the evolution of our postgraduate research training programme. We advocate a middle way approach to the much debated issues of scholarship verses training. A balance has been created between technical research training skills, knowledge based skills, dialoguing skills and context specific skills within each academic discipline.

Overseas Students' Research Supervision: Their Experiences and Expectations

Uduak Archibong

This paper presents findings of a pilot study conducted to assess the experiences and expectations of research supervision of postgraduate overseas students. Results indicated that to these students, an ideal supervision requires close personal relationship, with constructive theoretical structure for research, and firm guidance and feedback. There emerged some mismatches between expectations and experiences.

Postgraduate student numbers

Martyn Hutchison

This report details the rise in postgraduate numbers over the past ten years.

Report on the UKCGE Workshop on Facilities for Postgraduate Students, University of Leicester , 20 January 1995

Jamie Darwen reports on the UK Council for Graduate Education workshop on the accommodation needs of postgraduate students, which looked at the issue both from the students' and institutions' perspective.

Journal of Graduate Education, Volume 1, Issue 4


David Clark

Dr David Clark, Director of Planning and Communication at the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council discusses how best to ensure "breadth" as well as "depth" in postgraduate research degree provision.

Writing and Dialogue for the PhD

Rowena Murray & Andy Lowe

Writing is often an undervalued, underused and underdeveloped skill. It is often seen as the final stage of the PhD process rather than as a developmental activity which can be used throughout the whole research process. Drawing on recent research in the UK and USA this paper presents three strategies which can be used in the writing of the PhD: freewriting, generative writing and structured writing.

Developing Masters: Continuing Professional Development through Postgraduate Education

Julia Carter

This paper focuses on CPD through postgraduate degrees and in particular the role of the employer in facilitating access to advanced courses. The paper suggests that the question of responsibility for professional development through postgraduate courses is more problematic and complex than policy has traditionally assumed, with implications for all players: students, employers and course providers.

Educating Research Students: an Interdisciplinary Approach

Stuart Powell

This paper describes one university's approach to the education of research students within an interdisciplinary context, focusing on a centrally run course for all research students in the University. The development of the course is described and a comparison made between course aims and the perceptions of students, set in the context of the aims of the Research Tutor and the Institution.

An Alternative Future for Postgraduate Research in the Humanities

Martin Gough

This paper proposes that the Humanities Research Board of The British Academy should change its current policy of funding postgraduate research to one which supports Teaching Assistantships with part-time study. It argues that an organised Teaching Assistantship scheme would provide better training for an academic career, as well as giving national guidance to the current Teaching Assistant scheme.

Martin Gough's Alternative Future for Postgraduate Research in the Humanities : A Response

Michael Jubb

Michael Jubb, Deputy Secretary of the British Academy and Secretary to the new Humanities Research Board discusses Martin Gough's proposals for the funding of research in the humanities.

Journal of Graduate Education, Volume 2, Issue 1


Jeff Kipling, Associate Director of the Department of Medicine and Technology at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) discusses industries' needs regarding the PhD. The ABPI is the trade association representing companies the research, develop and manufacture prescription medicines in the United Kingdom, an industry which employs a large number of PhD graduates.

Training and Accreditation of Research Award Supervisors

Sue Clegg & Howard Green

This paper describes the training for research awards supervisors as part of an overall quality assurance strategy. It puts forward the rationale for accreditation and how this has been achieved through a Professional Diploma in Research Awards Supervision. It concludes with a recognition of the need for more systematic knowledge of supervisory practice.

Training Researchers: a Multi-disciplinary Approach

Bob Daniels & Gary Akehurst

This paper describes a postgraduate training course which attempts to meet national requirements for transferable skills by emphasising personal skills development. Students are drawn from across disciplines and work as one group within a multidisciplinary model. Generic research skills are developed and experience of broad issues, such as ethics, IPR, project planning, budgeting and management. The paper evaluates the team's experience.

Peer Support for Postgraduate Students

Tricia Skuse

The isolation inherent in research may be a contributory factor to the attrition rates from postgraduate study. The Network for Postgraduate Research into Adolescence endeavours to reduce both academic and personal isolation amongst PhD students. It is presented as a model of how students and other organisations can work together to improve conditions for research students.

Support for Research Students and their Supervisors: Do Declared Requirements Match National Realities?

Stephen Fallows

This paper examines the criteria which applied when the (now) University of Luton acquired its powers to award research degrees and describes the processes of scrutiny and examination to which the University was subjected. This is then related to the wider University sector with reference to a survey of current supervision management practice.

Thesis Prevention: Advice to PhD Supervisors

"Father Hacker's Research Students"

Some light-hearted advice on how not to supervise.

Journal of Graduate Education, Volume 2, Issue 2


Martin Harris, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester and Chair of the HEFCE/CVCP/SCOP Review of Postgraduate Education discusses the Review, due to report in Spring 1996, addressing the issues of funding and quality in postgraduate provision in the light of the enormous growth in postgraduate student numbers over the past few years.

The Mutuality of Expectations: Mapping the perceptions of dissertation supervisors and candidates in a postgraduate department of a new university

Susan Hetrick & Vernon Trafford

This paper identifies the expectations of supervisors and candidates prior to the start of the dissertation process in a department of a new university. It explores the expectations which these two parties bring to the process and the extent to which these expectations are mutual. The findings map the mutuality of expectations between dissertation supervisors and candidates. Areas of potential agreement and disagreement are identified.

Training research students and supporting supervisors through self-study materials customised for the research students

Pat Cryer

This article reports on research and development to collect, synthesise and deliver advice for postgraduate research students in all fields of study. This consisted of formal studies, various less formal enquiries and surveys of literature, which were followed by packaging of the advice into self-study print materials, trialling them and revising them in the light of feedback. Appendices illustrate the nature and scope of the advice.

A journey in research, from research assistant to Doctor of Philosophy

Darren Newbury

Within the literature on the development of higher degree research and supervision there is little that addresses the specific and often quite different issues presented by funded projects. This paper uses the author´s experience of working on a funded project in parallel with a higher degree registration to explore some of the problems as well as the benefits of being paid to do research.

Report on the UK Council for Graduate Education Annual Summer Conference, University of Herfordshire, 19-20 July 1995

Report on the Conference "Research Student Supervision: Management and Practice", University of Bristol, 1-2 August 1995

Journal of Graduate Education, Volume 2, Issue 3


The past few years have seen a vast increase in the number of postgraduate students and the diversity of provision. Ewan Gillon, outgoing General Secretary of the National Postgraduate Committee, argues that in such a climate there is a greater need to treat postgraduate students as individuals and get them more involved in the representative processes within institutions.

Graduate Schools: A new era in graduate education

Richard Balment & Linda Magee

The University of Manchester has recently revised its approach to graduate education by establishing four new Graduate Schools. The University´s initiative has brought with it considerable changes in the way graduate education is managed and developed - this is discussed using the Biological Sciences Division of the Graduate School of Science, Engineering & Medicine (GSSEM) as a specific example.

The International Student Experience: Expectations and Realities

Eunice Okorocha

This paper discusses the experience of international students. Research was conducted among students and staff members in twelve institutions, and findings show that international students share the needs of home students as well as distinctive additional needs. The paper notes the hallmarks of good supervision and lists a series of recommendations for students and supervisors.

Review of Postgraduate Education: a summary of conclusions and recommendations

Jamie Darwen

The "Harris" Review of Postgraduate Education, published in May 1996, was the first major national review of postgraduate education to be undertaken in the UK. This paper provides a brief summary of the main findings and recommendations contained within the report.

Report on the National Postgraduate Committee Conference, Southampton University Students Union, 3-6 August 1995

Journal of Graduate Education, Volume 2, Issue 4


Martin Gough, outgoing Chair of the National Postgraduate Committee, reflects on the developments within postgraduate education over the past ten years, a time of much innovation and change with initiatives such as the QAA, the UKCGE and the ILT.

Transferable skills required for adult learners: a focus on postgraduate/post-experience management education

Lew Perren & Trix Webber

This article explores the transferable skill needs of mature non-graduate entrants to postgraduate post-experience management education. The research took an inductive approach to establishing the skill needs of entrants and compares these results to frameworks which exist in the literature. The data yielded a "hybrid" framework comprising elements of many frameworks but quite distinct in its entirety.

Research Degrees for Careers in Management and Business

Tom Bourner, Jon Bareham & Paul Frost

This article contributes to the current debate on the future of research degrees by focusing on developing a research degree to meet the needs of careers in management. It considers the legitimacy and feasibility of training in research by the route of researching a live problem within an organisation, instead of the more traditional PhD route starting from an identified gap in the literature.

Setting up a Student Journal

Andrew Sherriff

Student journals are important avenues for publication and the advancement of scholarship. This article covers the primary points necessary in terms of the setting up of such a journal. The information contained in the article is based on the author´s own experience in the setting up of two student-led journals.

Making Progress with a Research Degree - Reflections of a PhD research student

Itohan Egharevba

A personal account of progress as a PhD student, with its encouragements and challenges, examining the characteristics of successful PhD candidates and describing the "4-D approach" - determination, dedication, direction, discipline.

Journal of Graduate Education, Volume 3, Issue 1


With the advert of the new millennium, John Woodward, past Postgraduate Representative Council President at the University of Leeds, looks at recent changes in postgraduate representation with the creation of anew sabbatical position, one of only four in the British Isles.

Can Management Education be Liberated from the Discipline of Discipline?

Reva B.Brown & Sean McCartney

This paper considers the academic disciplines that have evolved in Business Schools and their impact on teaching in these institutions. The article takes issue with the view that it is the integration and interaction of these disciplines that produces management knowledge, and the assumption that these disciplines have a reality, determined independently of management practice, but without which management practice cannot be understood. The paper examines the origin of this view and the development of management as an area of academic study in the UK, arguing that management must be seen as an activity in its own right, and teaching of management must reflect this. An attempt to point a possible way forward for management education is presented in the form of an MBA programme from the University of Essex.

The Provision of Research Training Programmes and Distance PhDs by Universities: A UK and international survey

E. Pattinson, P. Smith, C. Bloor, W. Middleton, S. Robertson and C. Hardy

Higher education is undergoing changes most notably in the area of postgraduate education. Distance education is increasing in popularity as a way to meet the requirements of a diverse population of students entering postgraduate education, while research training is seen as a possible solution to some of the problems of the Ph.D. Findings of a survey of UK universities and a number of overseas universities are presented concerning an investigation of the extent of formal research training programmes and distance Ph.D. provision. The results of the survey show the extent of use of both research training programmes and distance education within postgraduate education. It further notes the lack of research training provision for students who elect to study with a university at a distance.

Direction via Discussion: Supportive Grouping and the PhD

J Armstrong, H Gunter, F Lloyd-Williams, F Luckcock, D Pye & R Race

Six postgraduate doctorate students in the Department of Education at Keele University came together to form a research support group when the formal research training ended and the real research process began. This article describes the experience of the six founder members of the Keele Education Postgraduate Discussion Group and their initial reasons for forming the group. The article tells the story of how the lone researcher can benefit from a different type of support complimentary to that provided formally through generic training programmes and from a supervisor.

Towards an Understanding of Postgraduate Community: Wellbeing and The Role of Pleasure

Martin Gough

Martin Gough discusses the wellbeing of the postgraduate community, and to what extent this community actually exists, underpinned by a Wittgensteinian framework. The paper discusses the perception of this community, identifying shared issues and concerns such as isolation, social provision, representation, academic supervision and accommodation, IPR, opportunities for teaching, time management, and arrangements for funding, before going on to discuss the role of pleasure, not just for the individual, but also for this community as a whole, underpinned by an Aristotelian framework.

Journal of Graduate Education, Volume 3, Issue 2

Anatomy of a Doctoral Viva

Vernon Trafford & Shosh Lesham

This paper analyses how one doctoral viva proceeded from the perspective of five participants. Data were collected from the two examiners, the candidate, the director of studies and the chair. Initial impressions, question and answer strategies, behavioural features and post-viva thoughts are presented and analysed. Examiners´ questions are mapped within a matrix that illustrates the criticality of issues which appear to determine doctorateness. A model proposes three evidence-based domains of defence that could guide supervisors and candidates as they prepare for their respective roles in the doctoral viva process.

Undertaking postgraduate research which combines quantitative and qualitative approaches: two doctoral students' experiences

Barbara de la Harpe & Alex Radloff

Based on our experiences as postgraduate students undertaking doctoral studies in education, combining quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, we describe the choices we made about data gathering instruments, the management and analysis of data and the dissertation writing style, discuss some of the dilemmas we faced, and offer suggestions for how supervisors and students can deal with the complexities and uncertainties of conducting postgraduate educational research.

The Donkey in the Department? Insights into the Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) experience in the UK

Chris Park & Marife Ramos

This paper describes a study of how Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) are used in a research-led UK university, which sought insights into recruitment and selection, allocation to tasks, induction and training, time budgets, payment, feedback, quality assurance, responsibility and autonomy, and overall GTA perceptions. The evidence suggests that many GTAs feel like "donkeys in the department" because of their heavy workload, sizeable responsibility and limited autonomy. The paper closes with a call for a nationwide discussion of the most appropriate role and framework for GTAs.

Navigating through the maze: the practical issues of conducting research for novices

Duncan Shaw & Shadi Abouzeid

New postgraduate students embark on their research journey typically with little or no experience in doing research. Supervisors and other more experienced student researchers might help them to find their feet during the first few weeks of their research by sharing their own experience of how they solved similar problems during their research. In this way each novice researcher can learn and benefit from other researchers´ ways of resolving problems. This paper discusses the real concerns that researchers reflected upon during a two-day research workshop, where researchers share problems, exchange ideas for overcoming them and learn from each other´s experiences of conducting research. The output from the workshop is in the form of hints and tips that can guide novice researchers when faced with initial problems. The paper can also be used by a department to induct a novice researcher into their environment.

Journal of Graduate Education, Volume 3, Issue 3


Alistair McCulloch, Head of Research at Edge Hill College of Higher Education, discusses recent developments in postgraduate provision, and the role of the recently re-launched Postgraduate Issues Network of the Society for Research into Higher Education.

Postgraduate Student Associations: an analytic, a synthetic, or an a posteriori ontology?

Martin Gough

I provide argument that the postgraduate student association should be treated as a topic worthy of research interest in its own right which cannot be captured fully in analyses under the topics either of higher education management or of general student union governed representation structures and practices. I go on to provide a conceptual framework for characterising the institutional postgraduate student association in terms of a tripartite typology of ideal forms. The three forms are Society, Standing Committee and Autonomous Union.

Professional Doctorates in Healthcare Disciplines at the University of Portsmouth

Graham Mills, Valda Bunker & Alan Castle

The authors describe their pioneering and unique Doctoral level programme in the healthcare sector and explain its place in the context of developments in professional level higher education, whilst addressing issues in response to the increasing need for CPD for healthcare professionals and the realisation of the value of multidisciplinary education.

Providing for the Postgraduate Market: Extracts

Tim Brown

Tim Brown conducted a survey on behalf of the National Postgraduate Committee and as General Secretary completed the report in May 2003: Providing for the Postgraduate Market: an investigation into exclusive facilities for postgraduates, Troon: National Postgraduate Committee (ISBN 1899997091). He releases extracts here for publication in the Journal of Graduate Education. The full report is available through him, enquiries to

Reflections on Selected Recent Highlights in the Postgraduate Events Calendar

Tim Brown and Martin Gough

Notes covering the main points at three events on postgraduate education in the UK over the past year: the NPC's Annual Conference 2003 'Access All Areas'; the UK GRAD conference, 'Profiting from Postgraduate Talent 2003'; and the revival of the SRHE Postgraduate Issues Network, Spring 2004.

Journal of Graduate Education, Volume 3, Issue 4


James Irvine

Beyond the Doctoral Process: A Call for the Re-Focusing of 'How to... Get a PhD' Literature

Peter Stokes & Alistair McCulloch

This paper analyses 'How to...' texts which offer guidance to students and supervisors on undertaking doctoral process. It argues that, in a number of respects, they are predicated on linear and positivistic commitments propelled and contextualised in relation to postgraduate macro-policy which espouses the perspective of the idealised, normative participant and process. While, in principle, this offers a framework for progressive student momentum such accounts tend to gloss over more experientially messy and complex aspects of the process, aspects which doctoral students (and supervisors) might recognise and identify with more readily. In response, the authors argue that commentaries highlighting narrative and 'lived experience' should be given more prominence in developing an alternative presentation of experience. They identify the extent of these phenomena in extant accounts and point to narrative and social constructionist frameworks with which to undertake further developments.

Postgraduate Education as a form of Lifelong Learning, in the context of the Dimensions of Economic and Wider Benefits

Martin Gough

This paper considers the place of postgraduate education in a lifelong learning framework and addresses the question whether postgraduate education has any benefits wider than simply economic measures, with a view to articulating the groundwork for investigation into this area, an area which is not covered adequately by the framework of the UK Centre for Research on the Wider Benefits of Learning.

Preparing the Professoriate Program: Effective Training for Future Collegiate Teaching

Karla P.Simmons & Cynthia L.Istook

In the 2000 National Doctoral Program survey, only 60% of the PhD's questioned agreed that the teaching experience available to them was adequate for an academic teaching career (NAGPS 2001). The inability of graduate programs to offer mentoring opportunities to the future faculty of our academic structure has become a hot topic of discussion in the last few years. Developers of the Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) programs are working diligently to configure opportunities for training and mentoring that might help remedy this situation. At North Carolina State University, the Preparing the Professoriate Program, a PFF program, allows a year-long mentoring environment between a PhD student and a faculty member for guidance and experience in teaching. One such mentorship, described here in both organisational and autobiographical terms, directly influenced a graduate student's efforts in the search of her first tenure-track faculty position.

Full-time or Part-Time Postgraduate Representatives: a discussion of the choice for better representation

Tim Brown

Tim Brown follows up the publication in the last issue of extracts from 'Providing for the Postgraduate Market' with a discussion piece on support and representation for postgraduates. Such support has often been weak, even in institutions with large numbers and available resources, and in spite of expansion of numbers. A number of large student representative bodies with a postgraduate contingent throughout the country have endeavoured to improve this via one of two models, either to implement a full time postgraduate sabbatical officer or have a dedicated member of staff to support a voluntary committee.