What is Focus On?


Each year, we choose a topic for the Focus On project. We base this on our findings from Enhancement-led Institutional Review (ELIR). We invite all Scottish higher education institutions and students’ associations to tell us how we can give them the best support around this topic. This guarantees what we do will be useful and relevant.

Why the postgraduate research student experience?


During the last review cycle, some aspects of the postgraduate experience emerged as areas for development at 13 out of 18 institutions. These included training and support for postgraduates that teach, developing the research community, induction, and providing better consistency of information.


Following the consultation we decided on the topic, postgraduate research (PGR) student experience.


The project


We worked on four areas to help improve the experience of postgraduate research students.


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Training and support for postgraduate students who teach

Teaching is an important developmental role for postgraduate students, and they need support from their institution. We explored this topic and produced resources on policy and practice to support this work.

 

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Support for staff who supervise research students

Professional development is available to staff who supervise research students. This is sometimes delivered as part of a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice. We consulted with institutions to discuss their approaches and produced a series of films and webinars.

 

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Building a research community for postgraduate research students (PGRs)

We conducted a project on what ‘research community’ means and how we can provide a sense of community for PGRs. We produced a range of resources that you can use to enhance the experience of postgraduate study.

 

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Student representation for postgraduate research students (pgrs)

The relationship between PGRs and their institutions is unique and individual, and can be complex. To ensure we hear their voices, we met with PGRs.

 

Dissemination event


In May 2017, we held an event to share the project work in central Glasgow. This was an opportunity for staff and students to come together to discuss the project and share their own practice. Representatives from all 19 Scottish institutions were at the event, along with staff and students from elsewhere in the UK. Materials from this event can be found below.

Further information


The postgraduate research student experience

Publication Date: 22 Apr 2018

This leaflet is a summary of the different strands and work complete during the Focus On: The Postgraduate Research Student Experience project. The strands selected for the Focus On projects arise from Enhancement-led Institutional Reviews (ELIR).

Document Details
Author: QAA Scotland
Format: PDF
Size: 1877 KB

Training and support for postgraduate students who teach

Publication Date: 11 Apr 2018

This leaflet is a summary of the work complete during the Training and support for postgraduate students who teach strand of the The Postgraduate Research Student Experience project. The strands selected for the Focus On projects arise from Enhancement-led Institutional Reviews (ELIR).

Document Details
Author: QAA Scotland
Format: PDF
Size: 916 KB

Want to know more?


If you would like further information or would like to join the Focus On mailing list, please email QAA Scotland.



Related resources


Postgraduate Student Experience: Thematic Report on ELIR Reports 2013-16

Publication Date: 25 Jan 2017

This report identifies material relating to the postgraduate student experience contained within the ELIR reports for all 18 Scottish higher education institutions reviewed in the ELIR 3 cycle (2013-16). The institutions included in this report are: the University of Aberdeen; Abertay University; the University of Dundee; the University of Edinburgh; Edinburgh Napier University; Glasgow School of Art; Glasgow Caledonian University; the University of Glasgow; Heriot-Watt University; the University of the Highlands and Islands; Queen Margaret University; Robert Gordon University; the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland; Scotland's Rural College (SRUC); the University of St Andrews; the University of Stirling; the University of Strathclyde and the University of the West of Scotland.

Document Details
Author: QAA Scotland
Format: PDF
Size: 208 KB

QAA Viewpoint: Doctoral research students - what should they expect from their academic experience?

Publication Date: 05 Jan 2017

​In this QAA Viewpoint, we discuss some of the major characteristics of doctoral research degrees, as set out in the UK Quality Code for Higher Education, and what contributes to a good academic experience for doctoral research students. We also identify areas for potential development in this area by institutions, based on recent QAA review findings.

Document Details
Author: QAA
Format: PDF
Size: 93 KB