A guest blog from Rachel Betson, a PhD student at Aberystwyth University.
The British Society for Geomorphology’s Windsor Workshop is an annual event held in the Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Great Park. Its aim is to introduce first year PhD students to the world of academia and to prepare them for what to expect over the next three years.
The Cumberland Lodge was a wonderful place to stay with incredible views across the park and into Windsor (I’d recommend the walk up to the Copper Horse for a particularly stunning view – the image below does not do it justice). The rooms were great and the food was exceptional – 3 course meals, twice a day! This, along with the other entertainment on offer within the lodge made it the perfect location for a relaxed learning and working environment.
The view into Windsor from the Copper Horse
After an introductory session and evening meal (one thing learned quickly on the workshop is that all sessions were scheduled around food), the first session of the workshop was a discussion on the philosophy of science. Whilst this was a challenging initial topic (especially for 8.30pm on a Monday evening!), it ended up being a very interesting and thought provoking session.
The sessions in the following days ranged from learning how to code to creating an entire PhD project in an afternoon and then presenting the design for this project to the rest of the group – a task that ended up much less daunting than it originally sounded! There was also a session on computer modelling, which in itself was extremely varied (for example, one could simulate various CO2 scenarios or simulate a game of Tetris). We also had the chance to present our own PhD projects to small groups. This was a really helpful exercise as it allowed us to provide feedback to others and get feedback from students with a range of backgrounds and therefore with a range of viewpoints. Overall the workshops, lectures and seminars gave vital information for how to present both our research and ourselves to both peers and broader audiences.
As previous years have, I would really recommend any first year PhD student whose project involves geomorphology to attend the workshop. Not only because it provided a lot of technical training and interesting discussions, but also because it gave us a chance to discuss the more social side of a PhD and I quickly came to realise that I wasn’t the only one feeling nervous about starting a PhD!