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Handbook - Introduction 2018-19

Welcome from the CHASE Director

CHASE provides an exciting and rich research environment for doctoral research in the Arts and the Humanities
— Dr Denise deCaires Narain

I’d like to begin by congratulating you on your award and wishing you a warm welcome to CHASE. We are delighted and privileged to have the opportunity to work with you on your doctoral journey. Having met many of you at the CHASE Encounters Conference at Goldsmiths University in June, I’ve already had the pleasure of getting acquainted with some of your research projects. I look forward to extending these conversations in the years ahead as your research progresses. We’ll meet again for an Induction session at Southbank Centre on the 30th October where you will be given information about the various forms of support CHASE can offer to help you settle into your doctoral research. It will also be an opportunity to ask any questions you may have about starting your PhD research, managing your time and/or assessing your training needs. And it will be an excellent opportunity to meet other CHASE-funded students and make productive connections with your cohort.

As a consortium that includes nine institutions (Essex, UEA, Sussex, OU, Courtauld, Kent, SOAS, Goldsmiths and Birkbeck) CHASE provides an exciting and rich research environment for doctoral research in the Arts and the Humanities. Across CHASE there are over 1,000 academics in the arts and humanities, many of whom are also leading practitioners: artists, curators, novelists, poets, musicians, and lawyers. There is, then, a wealth of academic expertise and a diverse range of research experience for you to both draw on, and contribute to. The ethos of CHASE, established by my predecessor, Professor Vicky Lebeau, is collaborative and student-led and we actively encourage and support your involvement in shaping our research environment so that it is responsive to and engaged with national and international research networks and intellectual publics. While your doctoral research will be your main focus, there will be many opportunities for you to engage collaboratively with your peers and supervisors, as well as with the wider academic community - and with our many non-HEI partners. These engagements will enrich your research project and skills but it will also help us create a research environment that is positioned to contribute productively to the challenges currently facing postgraduate research in the Arts and Humanities at both national and international levels.

Beginning doctoral research is absorbing and exhilarating - and it can also be daunting. In addition to the support offered by your supervisor and your home institution, we will provide many opportunities for you to share any worries (and achievements!) with your peers in CHASE via training courses and conferences. We now have students at all stages of the PhD journey, with many nearing completion so there’s a wealth of experience and knowledge amongst your peers that you can draw on, whether in relation to research, publication, conferences, placements or training. The  CHASE Encounters conference will provide an excellent opportunity for peer-to-peer conversations. The Student Advisory Group (SAG) provides another forum for getting involved in CHASE and there is also an impressively professional student-run journal, Brief Encounters, to which you may want to contribute, as a writer or peer-reviewer.

In addition to the support provided by your home institution and supervisor, you can also get advice and information from the CHASE Academic and Administrative Leads based in each of the CHASE institutions. The CHASE team itself is based at Sussex and includes myself (Director), Rob Witts (Manager), Steven Colburn (Placements and Training) and Clare Hunt (Co-ordination). Please feel free to get in touch with us if you have any queries as begin your doctoral research – we are here to support you in getting the most out of your time with us. If you can’t find answers to questions or the support or training you need, let us know and we can work together to try to provide it.

The CHASE Doctoral Training Partnership provides an exciting range of experts and a uniquely dynamic intellectual environment for your research. It also provides a range of training programs (often bespoke) to support you in acquiring the skills to complete your doctoral research in a timely manner and to extend your repertoire of professional skills in ways that will enhance your employability within and without the academy. We rely on your active involvement to maintain this dynamic research environment and we hope this handbook, along with resources on the CHASE website and documentation from your home institution, will enable you to do so. If there is anything further we can do by way of support in the year ahead, please do get in touch.

Once again, welcome to CHASE and many congratulations on your award! I look forward to seeing you in October for the Induction and to hearing how your research projects are developing in the year ahead.

Dr Denise deCaires Narain
CHASE DTP Director
July 2018

Being a CHASE student

CHASE is a consortium of equals. It is a network that embraces all academic staff and doctoral researchers working in the arts and humanities, as well as creative practitioners and professional services staff. Your CHASE studentship, and the funding and support that it offers, will provide you with unparalleled opportunities to engage with expertise across the consortium and to create and sustain networks of researchers. The future success of CHASE will be reflected in your successes as a researcher and your future career as a member of the alumni networks of both your institution and CHASE.

The experience of being a CHASE funded scholar is designed to empower you. Starting a PhD marks the shift from directed learning to researching, and your PhD thesis will make a significant original contribution to your field. Through your research you will contribute to the health of the arts and humanities and engage in the ongoing debate about the future of the arts and humanities PhD, whether by submitting an outstanding ‘traditional’ written thesis or championing the innovation of creative approaches to developing and disseminating research.

Your supervisors will be your main points of contact but there will be numerous academics, students and professional staff with an interest in your subject. The links may not be obvious but will become clear the more you talk to people across the consortium. CHASE also encourages themed networks, and support is available to encourage these networks throughout the year.

CHASE also encourages you to think about your development as a researcher during and beyond your studentship. CHASE training and development will help you to expand your skills and provide new perspectives. If you do a placement during your studies you will be bringing your advanced research skills and deep knowledge of your subject to an organisation. The organisation will benefit enormously from your intellectual engagement and help you to explore ways of disseminating your expertise to wider publics and appreciate how the skills you develop in the act of doing a PhD are very transferable to roles outside of the academy.

Doctoral research is difficult, and it is normal to need some help from time to time. The good news is that there is a wide range of support available. Every CHASE institution has a careers service and student support service: they are there for you. Your peers – both at your institution and across the CHASE cohort - will provide a valuable support network.

Ultimately, CHASE will be what you choose to make it. You will represent CHASE when presenting your research at a conference; when engaging with cultural partners and the wider public, whether through a placement, attending a training event; or when sharing your research with the wider public. You can also represent CHASE by joining the Student Advisory Group, and actively engaging in the future planning of the consortium. Over to you!

PhD timeline

Every PhD journey is different. This is not an exhaustive guide but an indication of some of the events, opportunities and academic milestones you might expect as a CHASE-funded scholar. Individual institutions will have differing milestones and processes, for guidance please contact your institution.

  • On Arrival: Institutional induction 
  • CHASE induction - Tuesday 30 October - registration to follow 
  • Within First Month: First supervision - agree upon supervisory relationship and schedule of work. Complete CHASE Training Needs questionnaire and start to plan skills training
  • Autumn Encounters

  • Summer Encounters
  • Attend a conference and give a paper  

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  • Teaching: Institutional opportunities to gain teaching experience
  • Autumn Encounters

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  • Summer Encounters
  • Undertake an international research trip


  • 30 Months: Begin preparations for the submission process
  • Begin to think about and apply for post-doctoral research grants and/ or employment

  • June: Summer Encounters
  • After 36 Months: Submission followed by Viva examination  
  • Consider submitting an article to a peer-reviewed journal (for example CHASE Brief Encounters)  
  • Viva examinations will usually take place within 6 months of thesis submission

Note: part-time doctoral research will include the same features over a longer time-frame