Doctoral School

Welcome from the Director of the Doctoral School


I’d like to offer a very warm welcome – and congratulations on obtaining a place to study at Sussex – to all our new doctoral researchers! And if you are returning, welcome back! It’s a privilege for us to be working with you as you take on, and continue, this extraordinary – and sometimes daunting – commitment: a PhD.

As you will probably know by now, Sussex has a very large and diverse graduate community, with a research culture driven by disciplinary innovation and interdisciplinary problem-solving. As a doctoral researcher, you will make an invaluable contribution to that culture and to spirit of critical inquiry for which Sussex is renowned. From our side, it is always humbling to see the intellectual passion, the richness and initiative in the research proposals that come through to us. And, indeed, to see our researchers develop over the period of their studies.

For new researchers, ‘Induction’ is a crucial period. It is supposed to help you to find your way around the University and its facilities, as well as introduce you to the research support – courses, training, funding – available to you via your School or the Doctoral School. But ‘re-induction’ for researchers returning in Years 2 and 3 is also essential. It is an opportunity to reflect on the year just gone and the year ahead, and to think together with your supervisor, or supervisory team, about your research priorities for the remainder of your studies. The Doctoral Researcher Handbook has been revamped over the past few months and I’d suggest that everyone look through it (again) – it’s a useful prompt to thinking about the different stages of doctoral research. The Doctoral School website is also a vital resource, containing information about funding, research training and professional development as well as links to key documents and forms.

Sussex puts a very strong emphasis on the research environment for doctoral researchers. The relations among supervisors and doctoral researchers, and supervisory support in the pursuit of your specific research project, are vital to the success of your studies. There will also be opportunities to attend symposia, workshops, and other events to meet the researchers in your field (see for information about Sussex research groups and Centres). Much of this activity will take place in or across Schools.

But the research environment also goes beyond those research relationships and networks. You might need to develop particular research skills – for example, language learning, statistical analysis, data management – that are best provided outside your regular supervision. Equally, whilst you are here to bring a particular research topic to completion, you are also developing as a researcher independently of your thesis. At Sussex, we want to help you to make the most of your doctoral research as a key stage in your development as a researcher. (Our ‘Researcher Development Programme’ is one place to start to think about that. Each year, we also ask you to complete a ‘Training Needs Analysis’ (unfortunate jargon but that should not put you off) and to make time to discuss this you’re your supervisor. This is not a bureaucratic exercise; it can make an enormous contribution to your research – as well as being an opportunity to meet with researchers from across the University.

Finally, we are absolutely delighted to have you here at Sussex and I look forward to meeting with many of you over the course of your studies.


Professor Vicky Lebeau

Director of Sussex Doctoral School


Doctoral School