New paper on academic practice and PhD in Geography

Hopwood N & McAlpine L (2014) Conceptualising the PhD as preparing for academic practice in geography. Geojournal. doi: 10.1007/s10708-014-9585-3

Currently available through Springer Online First. Visit to explore the many resources for PhD students and other early career academics, as well as supervisors, that resulted from the work of the Centre for Excellence.


Abstract This paper situates the geography PhD within the broader context of doctoral education. It addresses questions relating to the PhD as preparation for future academic work. Theoretical and practical ideas are woven through a discussion of the work of the Centre for Excellence in Preparing for Academic Practice, at the University of Oxford, UK. The Centre initiated wide-ranging reforms and has had lasting impacts, with a philosophy of remaining sensitive to disciplinary context. The paper argues that cultural historical activity theory is a useful lens for under- standing challenges in contemporary doctoral educa- tion, and responses to them. Key concepts are outlined, and a worked example provided, drawing from the Centre’s work. Connections are made with relevant initiatives specific to geography.



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