What actually is a PhD?

Hannes Titeca 150px.jpgHannes Titeca is an ESRC-funded PhD student at the University of Exeter.

It is only as I enter the second year of my PhD that I now feel able to start answering this remarkably simple question.

Throughout my first year, I found myself constantly updating the few expectations I did have. I feel that this illustrates a more general issue of young people, as part of the wider population, not knowing enough about what doctoral study involves and how it relates to research, universities, and academia more generally. Continue reading

Early life experiences and the adult mind

Marlene Lorgen-Ritchie 150Marlene Lorgen-Ritchie is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Rowett InstituteHer research involves investigating the biological pathways linking the social environment during development, with mood and personality in later life.

Here, in the latest of our biosocial blog series, she writes about one aspect of biosocial research – epigenetics – which she’ll be exploring more at a Festival of Social Science event next week.

Our early life experiences in the womb and throughout childhood have been shown to influence how we turn out as adults. This includes how healthy we are, how rich we become and what and how we think. However we still don’t know how it all comes about biologically. That’s where epigenetics comes in. Continue reading

Work begins at the new Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence project

Kenneth Gibb 150Ken Gibb is the Director of the ESRC UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) and is professor of housing economics at the University of Glasgow. He has recently also worked as co-director of What Works Scotland and was the founding director of the University’s knowledge exchange body for policy research, Policy Scotland. He is a trustee of the Urban Studies Foundation and is chair of Sanctuary Scotland housing association.

The UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) started its real work last week, kicking off with a launch event in London. Four of 13 initial projects are underway, as well as four linked PhDs.

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Exposing the genocide of Myanmar’s Rohingya

Alicia de la Cour Venning, Thomas MacManus and Penny Green are researchers at the International State Crime Initiative. In 2015, they concluded a 12 month study which investigated the historical and ongoing persecution of Myanmar’s Rohingya. Here they write about their work and the effect it has had around the world.

Alicia de la Cour Venning 150

Alicia de la Cour Venning

Tim MacManus 150

Thomas MacManus

Penny Green 150

Penny Green






In October 2015, we warned that the Rohingya were experiencing genocide.

Between October 2014 and March 2015 we conducted fieldwork in Rakhine state, and carried out over 180 interviews with individuals from Rohingya, Rakhine, Kaman, and Maramagyi ethnic groups, as well as international non-governmental organisation (INGO) and UN staff, government officials, local Rakhine civil society leaders, business people and politicians, and Buddhist monks.

Our research concluded that successive Myanmar governments have engaged in systematic repression against the Rohingya since the late 1970s; repression which amounts to genocidal practice. Continue reading

Life behind bars: can prison be better than this?

Anastasia Chamberlen is Assistant Professor in Sociology at the Department of Sociology, University of Warwick and is researching in the fields of prison sociology, feminist criminology and criminal justice.

English and Welsh prisons are undergoing one of their most challenging periods in decades. As I’m writing this piece, news emerges of yet another outbreak of violence in an English prison. This time, it’s the high security HMP Long Lartin in Worcestershire, a prison described by the Ministry of Justice as ‘well-staffed’, which saw 81 prisoners take over a wing, raising once again concerns about safety and order in English carceral institutions.

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