PGF Seminar 3rd February 1-2pm

We will be kicking off the first seminar of semester two with our very own Rob Granger. Rob is in the second year of his Northern Bridge funded PhD. He is researching the social, cultural and political attitudes under the late Franco dictatorship in Spain, to seek to understand how far the regime was underpinned by a culture of consent. Rob will deliver his paper entitled: Nightmares and Miracles: Franco’s Madrid, 1939 – 1975.

For more information please contact Leanne:

Ramón Masats ‘Casa de Campo’, 1961

Introduction to the PGF Committee: Kat Waugh, Social Media Editor

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m a second year PhD student, living in the West End of Newcastle. I live with my partner, Jason, and we have a little rabbit called Luna. I’m originally from the North East but did my undergraduate degree in History at the University of Manchester. I stayed there to do my MA in Humanitarianism & Conflict response, before working as a support worker for people in supported accommodation. I really love animals, and volunteer as a dog walker for The Cinnamon Trust, which has kept me sane throughout lockdown!

Tell us a little bit about your research

My research looks at industrial closure in County Durham from cross-generational perspectives, exploring how the closure of the coal mines shaped, and continues to shape, understandings of place, identity and politics. My research is based on oral history interviews with people of all different ages, who grew up or live(d) in three villages in the county.  I’m really interested in how things like Brexit, and the election of Conservative MPs in the region are linked to deindustrialisation, and questions about the future of the region in relation to both heritage and new development.

What was it that got you interested in your current research topic?

It’s something I’ve always been interested in really, growing up in a former pit village and just observing things around me, but I think it was moving away to Manchester that really gave me the perspective on it that led me to where I am now. After leaving University, I went on to work in a supported accommodation for people who were homeless. I loved this job and still miss it, but it was incredibly tough and really highlighted the continued systemic issues within the UK that continue to effect former industrial areas in particular. I missed research, and just thought that I could perhaps combine the two areas of experience together to look at these issues historically. I also missed home and so everything really just came together to form my project.  

What has been the best/most enjoyable part of your PhD so far?

I love doing the oral history interviews that form the basis of my project. I’ve learnt so much from each participant and it’s just so interesting to hear the history of the region in people’s own words.

And what has been the most challenging?

Imposter syndrome! More than any of my actual research, just trying to get over various crises in self confidence has been the most challenging thing, I think. There has definitely been a lot of self-questioning about whether I’m up for doing the PhD at all, but I think these waves of doubt are something you learn to navigate as you progress.

Has Coronavirus impacted your research?

Yes, massively so. I had all my interviews scheduled for March and April 2020, and of course that’s when we entered full lockdown, so they were all rescheduled. So, there was a delay there while I held off to keep an eye on the situation as it developed, and then I moved to remote interviewing. That’s been a challenge in itself and has meant learning about a whole new way of working, but it’s allowed me to complete some really interesting interviews and get my project back on track.

What would be your most important advice for someone just starting their PhD?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. There are so many things that it’s almost assumed you know about when you start your PhD, not necessarily research based either but about academia or your department in general. It’s not silly to ask about these things, and it’s also in no way a bad thing to ask for well-being help and support when you need it, too.  

What are your post-PhD plans?

I would really like to move into policy research, in the Civil Service or an independent Think Tank for example, but I really hope I can stay focused on the North East region if I do that.

Introduction to the PGF Committee: Jerome Ruddick, Social Secretary

Tell us a little bit about yourself

Originally from Surrey, I moved to Devon at a young age, bouncing between state schools as I did so. Throughout this I’ve always been interested in history. Despite this, I originally wanted to become a Lego designer but then I realised I was rubbish at graphic design (a key skill to say the least), so that path was dropped. I have two siblings, an older sister working to protect animals, and a twin brother who has become a barrister. My interests include videogames, especially story driven ones, climbing, reading (when I get the time to read a fiction book), acting (I played the roles of Claudio from Much Ado About Nothing and The Prince in Into the Woods at university) and theatre! Before I started my PhD I worked as a professional archaeologist, working on sites across the country; the most interesting excavation I attended was a Roman Villa in a small town called Purton. However, eventually my interests changed, in combination with being fed up with the constant rain, and I decided to pursue a different path. Despite this, archaeology still strongly informs my work. 

Tell us a little bit about your research

A number of Greek communities across the Hellenistic provide evidence of a fascinating interplay between identity, mythology and material culture whose influence has been critically understudied by recent scholarship. Despite acknowledgment that identity continually evolves, researchers fail to tackle how material culture contributes to this over time and the impact this dynamic had upon the sustainability of community belief in their local, elite manipulated, mythologies. My thesis tackles these questions through employment of case studies across Arcadia, Crete, and the Levantine region. This research will not only address these shortcomings but reframe how we approach historical concepts of belief and identity in the Greek Hellenistic era.

What was it that got you interested in your current research topic?

When it comes to the Greek world, I have always been passionate about mythology and the way it had informed society and was in turn, informed by it itself. This naturally evolved into the study of Greek identity, particularly the constructional aspects. I remember undergraduate days, tackling a dissertation on Athenian marriage and how mythology informed this and enjoying it immensely. It was this excitement and happiness I felt doing this that made that confirmed a path where I could deal with Greek history every day; in this way I suppose trying to complete a PhD on the subject was inevitable! 

What has been the best/most enjoyable part of your PhD so far?

Excepting being able to deal with a topic that fascinates me, the most enjoyable part of this PhD has been the freedom in my working schedule! Additionally, the opportunity to be within a community that shares the same interests as myself, that can offer chances to undertake paths related to Classics, from teaching to odd jobs, has been fantastic. 

And what has been the most challenging?

I feel the most challenging part of the PhD has been twofold; trying to cover all the relevant literature and ensure it is properly applied is paramount. This is largely so your work stands the critique of your peers; one shortcoming and critics will leap upon the chance to invalidate your arguments. Another aspect, perhaps talked about less, is the environment. You work within a discipline, even amongst other PhD students, where everyone is exceptional. It takes effort not to compare yourself, to feel you are not as good as them. I cannot speak for any others but I do feel this insecurity at times; you have to admit to yourself that you do belong where you are, and you are deserving of the high level you are working at. Because it is incredibly easy to put yourself down when everyone else is achieving this, or publishing that! So in my mind, the psychological issues, the famous ‘imposter syndrome’ is the most challenging aspect to overcome. 

Has Coronavirus impacted your research?

Not at all, beyond any networking opportunities. I will admit I was extremely frustrated when I managed to obtain a grant to attend the Annual Classics Conference just for it to be cancelled. But these things happen! Luckily, doing Classics, all of my research subjects are dead. Usually a disadvantage but now, turning out to be less so. 

What would be your most important advice for someone just starting their PhD?

Make sure you have a vision of where you want your PhD to go. Do you want to turn it into a book? Then write it like one. Are you going to split it off into articles? Then make sure that as you structure it, it lends itself easily towards this purpose. And be sure about what you want to contribute to the field.

What are your post-PhD plans?

I would, as many of us do, wish to become a lecturer in my subject of choice. However, as we all know (or will learn), this much more easily said than done! I do have a passion for trying to bring Classics to areas where it is not present, so I may join the Researchers in Schools program; in this way I can continue to learn and teach about the Ancient Greeks, whilst working with a University to both help improve university attendance for the less privileged and bring Classics out of the private schools! Lastly, beyond trying to work in a museum with Greek artefacts, if I win the lottery I may become a ‘Gentleman Scholar’, conducting research without having to fight for the academic jobs needed to support myself as I do so. Only time will tell.  

Introduction to the PGF committee: Kevin Graham, Newsletter Editor

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I live locally with my partner and have worked as a teacher for the past eleven years. We have three cats, and we like to visit historic sites. As a hobby, I am heavily involved in local amateur dramatic societies and I also enjoy reading fiction.

Tell us a little bit about your research

My research focuses on the development of the British political centre ground since 1918. I am particularly interested in the role and response of centrism in the UK in response to specific historic events.

What was it that got you interested in your current research topic?

I have always been interested in the role and contribution of the political centre ground. Towards the end of my masters I became interested in how this role became increasingly important at time when political polarisation to the left and right was taking place. This then led me to consider how the role of centrism has developed throughout history.

What has been the best/most enjoyable part of your PhD so far?

At this stage in my research, I have enjoyed the wide reading and exploration of the topic. This has enabled me to think of a variety of different aspects to my research which I had not even considered at the very start.

And what has been the most challenging?

Perhaps identifying the best time period to start from in my overall analysis. I have attempted to address this by continuously reading and asking myself a number of questions which relate to specific circumstances throughout history when the centre ground has achieved prominence.

Has Coronavirus impacted your research?

I have found alternative ways to obtain information from relevant and useful sources, such as through the National Archives and other online gateways. I have also been able to network virtually, which has proven very useful.

What would be your most important advice for someone just starting their PhD?

It sounds cliché, but genuinely enjoy the exploration of your topic. I have certainly found the reading and discovery of different aspects of my research fascinating and enjoyable.

What are your post-PhD plans?

My hopes are two-fold; Firstly, to develop enhanced research skills that will enable me to pursue exploring the area which is in continuous development and secondly, to use the expertise in the field to further my teaching practice and research output.

Introducing the PGF Committee: Leanne Smith, Seminar Co-Ordinator

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I live with my son Isaac (11) and my cat Arabella (Bella). Isaac is my absolute world. He’s the reason I decided to go to university as I want to inspire him to follow his dreams.  I absolutely love watching documentaries, my favourite was about ordinance survey maps! I also have a slight obsession with James Blunt. 

Tell us a little bit about your research 

My research is focused on the political & religious thought of the Fifth Monarchy Men in England during the seventeenth century. They were a millenarian sect that believed it was their purpose to reform society ready for the second coming of Christ. The current historiography of the group has tended to concentrate on their religious ideas and has dismissed their engagement with political ideologies, such as republicanism.  

What was it that got you interested in your current research topic? 

I was researching for an essay during the first year of my BA and stumbled across the Fifth Monarchists. I found it strange that it was written during the time that they were ‘never to be forgotten sect’ and yet they have largely been forgotten. They have been overshadowed by other seventeenth century radical groups that have been considered by some historians to engage with political concepts that we are certainly more familiar with in modern society. The religious beliefs of the Fifth Monarchy Men do not fit comfortably within this secular narrative.   

What has been the best/most enjoyable part of your PhD so far? 

I recently delivered my first paper. This was originally due to take place in my first year but was delayed due to Covid-19 but thankfully I was able to present this online. I was extremely nervous and practically lost my voice practising my talk, but it was really enjoyable. I also got some really good feedback and advice on other avenues to pursue. 

And what has been the most challenging?  

Dealing with my guilt as a parent. There are often times when I will work over the weekend or during school holidays and I feel like a terrible Mam.  

Has Coronavirus impacted your research?

Thankfully, most of my sources are available online but the first lockdown really impacted as the schools were closed and I had to take time to help Isaac with his schoolwork. The pandemic has also impacted my mental health much more than I thought it had. I think being away from my friends and away from the university I just felt like I wasn’t part of anything anymore. That’s why I am loving my role as series seminar co-ordinator I now feel like I am part of a community! 

What would be your most important advice for someone just starting their PhD?  

Be kind to yourself and DO NOT compare your PhD journey with anyone else’s 

What are your post-PhD plans?

The dream is to be a lecturer. 

Introducing the PGF committee: Rob Granger, Chairman

Hi, I’m Rob and I’m a second year PhD student in history and currently the Chair of our Postgraduate Forum at Newcastle. After two years in Madrid trying (and mostly failing) to speak Spanish with a Yorkshire accent, and being torn between missing my dog back in the UK, and being able to go to rooftop bars in November, I’ve ended up back in Newcastle – where I completed my BA and MA degrees – to continue an academic path that started out with a second year essay on the Franco dictatorship.

My thesis will explore the later (c.1964 – 1975) Franco regime’s attempts to generate social and political consent during a period of growing unrest that has traditionally been seen as an era of terminal decline for the dictatorship. For obvious reasons, I haven’t been able to get to Spain, so progress has been difficult, but this experience has taught me that there are always more people in the same boat as you as you might think.

A piece of advice I’d definitely give is to use Twitter as an academic networking tool, which I’ve only started to do relatively recently, but has already led to both productive working relationships and personal connections with other PhD students researching modern Spanish history, who are going through many of the same challenges and frustrations at the minute as me, particularly in terms of travel and access to archives etc. If all goes according to plan, the goal post-PhD would be to try and find someone who’s willing to pay me to continue to think, read and write about modern Spanish history! 

16th Annual PGF Conference

Our annual post-graduate forum conference is less than two weeks away!

This year’s theme is ‘Conflict’ and a variety of papers are lined up from History, Classics and Archaeology.

Here is our Conference program. 

Feel free to come and go throughout the day, registration is not necessary.

Hope to see you there,

The PGF Committee



We would like to welcome all new postgraduates to Newcastle and of course welcome back everyone else!

We are really excited to meet you all!


The committee has changed quite a bit this year and we have some great ideas for the coming months so watch this space!

So what do we do? In a nutshell:

  • Seminar series
  • Socials
  • Christmas and end of year parties
  • Journal
  • Blogging and other social media
  • Conference

As we all know, doing your PhD or MA is hardly a walk in the park; everyone is isolated by the uniqueness of their research, which can make it seem like no one really understands what you are going through. We also know that it can be difficult for people to get involved if they don’t live locally, if they work, or are doing their Postgraduate degree part time. That is why, this year, we are making a concerted effort to match our lively presence within the School as well as online – find us also on twitter  and facebook!

We aim to get to know each other better and share our research interests.  We will use this space to advertise our events and update you through our monthly newsletters.  In the next few days we will collecting information for our postgraduate profiles, which we would like to post up on this site for you all to know who we are and what we do.

There is lots going on, so we hope to see you all at our events and perhaps even blogging for us!

The PGF committee.



Congratulations to the Winners of our 14th Annual Postgraduate Forum Conference

14th Annual Postgraduate Forum Conference Winners

School of History, Classics and Archaeology

Newcastle University

19th May 2017




This interdisciplinary one-day conference brought together Postgraduate students studying histories relating to the theme of Movement. How do we study the past, not as static, but as dynamic and changing? How does the movement from one context to another change how we interpret evidence? What are the effects of movement on societies, material, and intellectual cultures? How has the idea of movement, or a movement, been used for political, social, or artistic purposes?

We heard many fascinating papers covering a broad range of topics relating to movement as well as a large array of posters from our very own Masters students.

We are pleased to announce the winners of this years conference are:

Best Poster: Iain Flood, Newcastle University

“White masculinity and physical disability in the post-bellum United States, 1865-96.”


Best Paper Runner-up: Oznur Ozdemir, Leeds University

“Re‐evaluating an Early Islamic Mass Movement: Looking at the Abbasid Revolution from an Economic Perspective.”


Best Paper: Thomas Whitfield, Newcastle University

“’Nothing but Serjeant Glynn is to be heard in the streets’– The role of movement in creating a radical nexus in later-eighteenth-century Newcastle upon Tyne.”


We would like to thank everyone who contributed and attended the conference. It was a huge success, we look forward to next year!