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  • Jul 05 / 2016
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Current Affairs

The Social Distribution of Physical Activity: Can Bourdieu Help?

Photo by Josiah Mackenzie © April 5, 2009. Used with permission under the license of Creative Commons.

Photo by Josiah Mackenzie © April 5, 2009. Used with permission under the license of Creative Commons.

By Dr Chris Bunn and Dr Victoria Palmer 

Chris and Victoria are at the University of Bristol this week, speaking at the annual conference of the British Sociological Association’s Bourdieu Study Group. In this blog post they reflect on the value that Bourdieu’s work on the social distribution of culture and taste could have for those working in applied health contexts, such physical activity promotion.

We are all familiar with the public health campaigns that tell us to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day, to stop smoking and limit alcohol intake, watch our weight and do regular physical activity. These messages are the most visible manifestations of the public health agenda. They operate, through campaigns such as ‘Change 4 Life’, as a form of counter-ideology that attempts to contest the many incitements to consume health-damaging foods, drinks and sedentary activities that circulate in our media-saturated societies. However, these campaigns – sometimes dubbed ‘social marketing’ – tend to take a ‘one size fits all’ approach to their audiences. Continue Reading

  • Jun 29 / 2016
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Academia, David Blane

Academic Writing

© Pexels. 2014. Licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license.

By David Blane

Good writing is arguably the most important skill for an aspiring academic to develop.  No matter how important your research question, how novel your methodology, how rigorous your approach to analysis, academics are ultimately judged on written work, be it an 80,000-word PhD thesis or a 8,000-word journal article contributing to REF. Continue Reading

  • Jun 16 / 2016
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Academia, Siobhán O’Connor

British Federation of Women Graduates (BFWG)

By Siobhán O’Connor

To all you ladies out there who might be looking for some additional support and networking opportunities during your postgraduate studies – check out the British Federation of Women Graduates. It was established in 1907 to help women in all countries fulfill their potential by supporting women’s opportunities in education and public life and fostering local, national and international friendship, thereby improving the lives of women and girls across the world. BFWG specifically supports female students at universities across the United Kingdom by: Continue Reading

  • Jun 09 / 2016
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Anna Isaacs, Methods, PhD Experience

Fieldwork Reflections

Photo by Telco Kruidenier © 2005. Used with permission under the license of Creative Commons: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

Photo by Telco Kruidenier © 2005. Used with permission under the license of Creative Commons: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/


By Anna Isaacs

Recently, during one of my PhD interviews, a participant discussed with me her reluctance to engage in preventive health screenings. Part way through the conversation she asked me if I had ever had a cervical smear test and, if so, how I had found it. I paused for a second and then replied that yes, I had, and while it might not have been in my top ten most enjoyable experiences, it was relatively quick and not unduly painful. “Oh”, she responded. “Well if you’ve had one, then maybe I will too….” Continue Reading

  • Jun 01 / 2016
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PhD Experience, Ruth Agbakoba

The Benefits That Voluntary Work Can Bring To Your PhD

By Ruth Agbakoba

No one has ever become poor by giving” – Anne Frank

This inspirational quote illustrates the value of generosity. In this post I would like to share my personal voluntary experiences as they have positively impacted my PhD Research. Moving to a new city can be a very daunting prospect for students. For me, having a close bond with my twin sister Faith, I knew that the adjustments would take time. However, what we do share close to our hearts is our charitable works from childhood. Glasgow is very much a cohesive and friendly city to live and study. The “People Make Glasgow” slogan was unveiled as the new brand name for the largest city in Scotland. It represents distinct warmth with the people of Glasgow being at the heart of this brand. During my time in Glasgow, I have come to experience this warmth for myself, most notably in a volunteering capacity. Continue Reading

  • May 20 / 2016
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Academia, Siobhán O’Connor

Making the Most of Social Media



By Siobhán O’Connor

So you might think that PhD land and social media don’t have much in common but it’s safe to say that without utilising the benefits online, interactive platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have to offer you might miss out on quite a lot during your postgraduate studies. Here are my top reasons to use social media right throughout the PhD process. Continue Reading

  • May 06 / 2016
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Academia, Siobhán O’Connor

What is REF and is it relevant?

Photo by Dustin Lee ©. Unsplash. Used with permission.

By Siobhán O’Connor

As a doctoral student eager to make the most of my research experience, I am surprised that the Research Excellence Framework (REF) doesn’t really appear anywhere in the process of postgraduate student especially when undertaking a PhD. In the United Kingdom, REF is the process by which research from academic institutions is judged in terms of its quality and impact on society and importantly, it determines how much public money is allocated to higher education institutions that submit their research outputs to REF. The most recent REF results were published in 2014 and the process is currently under review, with the next iteration of REF expected around 2020 (http://www.ref.ac.uk/). REF is conducted by the four agencies responsible for funding higher education, which in Scotland, is the Scottish Funding Council (SFC). Its main aim is to ensure that “public investment in research produces evidence of the benefits of this investment” and it also “provides benchmarking information and establishes reputational yardsticks, for use within the higher education sector and for public information” (REF, 2011). Continue Reading

  • May 05 / 2016
  • 0
Current Affairs

Health, Wellbeing and the 2016 Scottish election


In the days running up to the Scottish elections IHAWKES has been asking the question: what are the most critical policy issues for health and wellbeing?

Here is a selection of the tweets we received in response:

Andrea E Williamson‏@aewilliamsonl

@IHAWKES1 Single disease models OUT! The role that mental health has in engagement in care -INEXTRICABLY linked to multi-morbidity.

8:07 AM – 4 May 2016

********** Continue Reading

  • Apr 13 / 2016
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The Profcast: Professor Rory O’Connor


In today’s Profcast we speak to Professor Rory O’Connor, Chair in Health Psychology and Head of Mental Health and Wellbeing at the University of Glasgow.

Why did you become an academic?

That’s a good question.  From pretty early on in my life, I wanted to be a psychologist. As an identical twin of an identical twin I’ve always been fascinated by nature vs nurture and psychology more generally.  Yes, to clarify, my father was an identical twin and I am an identical twin and my twin, Daryl, is also a professor of psychology – at Leeds University (we’re mirror twins actually).  Also, when I was 11, I met a clinical psychologist, who really impressed me and I have been pretty much hooked on psychology ever since (I had the good fortune to meet said same clinical psychologist more than ten years later while doing my PhD at Queen’s University Belfast which was great).  It was some time later before I decided that I wanted to become an academic rather than a clinician. I remember really enjoying doing a group research project during the 2nd year of my undergraduate degree; this really whetted my appetite for research, which was further reinforced by doing my final year dissertation (an experimental study on learned helplessness and depression). I loved the process, thinking of a problem, formulating it as a question and then systematically attempting to answer it.  I have also always enjoyed teaching and again, I had really positive experiences of teaching/supervision as a postgraduate and of developing an extra-mural course on mental health at Queen’s with two colleagues during my PhD. Continue Reading