About SW GRADSchools

There have been residential GRADschools run in the South West region since 2003 when the University of the West of England, Bristol (UWE Bristol) took 35 doctoral researchers to the Ammerdown Retreat Centre in Somerset.

In 2005, the venue for this residential course moved to Buckland Hall in the Brecon Beacons where it has been held ever since. Many of the GRADschools that have taken place here have been collaborative ventures between universities in the South West region to provide hundreds of doctoral researchers with the opportunity to take advantage of this experience.

The SW GRADschools in 2018 is being co-ordinated by the Graduate School at UWE Bristol with places for doctoral researchers from Bath Spa University and the South West Doctoral Training Partnership (SWDTP).


Applications from postgraduate researchers registered at other institutions are WELCOME!

The course is going to run from Tuesday 3rd to Friday 6th July 2018.


If you would like to apply for a place on this residential course then please see the How to Apply section. If you have queries then please refer to the FAQs section or contact us.

If you would like to see what sort of things we do at the GRADschools, why not check out the review of the 2016 residential here.


Grad Schools are 3 – 4 day courses for doctoral candidates in the middle to later years of a doctorate. Many researchers who attend the course have a transformational experience and are empowered to take charge of their own learning and career.

Over the last 10 years over 2000 doctoral researchers from all across the UK have participated and many have returned as mentors or tutors, to inspire and support other researchers.

GRADschools take an experiential approach which means that for the most part researchers are actively participating in the sessions and activities. Every programme is unique and may or may not focus on a particular theme, for example innovation or leadership and impact.  Course length will also vary, for example depending on whether the programme is residential or non-residential. All GRADschools provide plenty of opportunity for reflection and discussion.

Typical features

Between 35-40 researchers are led by an experienced team of tutors with strong practical experience of team-building and facilitating learning in the workplace. Tutors are recruited from a range of organisations, including research and academia, public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

In groups (typically 7 – 8 people) researchers then work through a range of challenging situations and experiences. These include working in a simulated academic or business environment, practical individual and team exercises and sessions about personal motivations and careers.  Each group is supported by a tutor in reviewing experiences of the day and making links between what they have experienced, their research and their future careers.

Benefits for researchers

GRADschools provide researchers with the opportunity to:

  • develop their professional and personal effectiveness
  • understand themselves better as individuals and as team members, communicating, engaging with others and sharing experiences
  • consider, plan and manage the next steps of their career
  • broaden their thinking  on the range of career options open to them
  • meet peers from a variety of disciplines, backgrounds and countries and with different professional experience
  • be inspired by working with a range of experienced tutors who openly share their career experiences




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