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‘It is not a matter of pursuing a new form of absolute knowledge, but of exercising a specific form of epistemological vigilance, the very form that this vigilance must take in an area where the epistemological obstacles are first and foremost social obstacles.’

                        Pierre Bourdieu on Reflexivity

 The question of how we deal with our relation to the objects of our investigation is ever-present (if not always explicitly acknowledged) in the practice of social science research. However, concrete practices of reflexivity – the ‘vigilance’ that Bourdieu refers to –  that might enable us to engage productively with this relationship are difficult to specify: the moments they aim to capture are elusive and unpredictable; the forms in which they might be written about can feel risky and excessive.


In this seminar four current doctoral students at different stages of their studies will present on the ways in which they have attempted to address these issues and to develop an approach to reflexive practice within their research:

 Zoe Charalambous – The use of reflexive researcher diary for maintaining a lacanian researcher stance in the process of data generation and analysis

Ximena Galdames – Human Bites and Classroom Rules: unsettling the familiar by troubling reflective practice in an early childhood context

Gillian Stokes – Act to impact and back again: conceptualising the process of self focus on research

Emily Henderson – “She thinks I’m ‘queer’” – Performing conceptual reflexivity


Music Education Special Interest Group

Research Seminar Announcement

Dr Scott L. Phillips, Assistant Professor of Music Technology, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Thursday 27th March, 12.15 – 1.15pm, Committee Room 3, 20 Bedford Way, Institute of Education 

Over the past 25 years, as technology has become a ubiquitous part of the educational landscape, music educators have increasingly relied on it to be more effective and efficient in their teaching and performing. The development of music technology education in the United States has evolved through a complex and somewhat convoluted process. Educational leaders, select university programs, national music and education standards, accreditation regulations, and various financial forces have had a significant impact on curricular design and execution. In this presentation Dr. Phillips will show how these and other factors have shaped the educational landscape to create the current climate for music technology education in America. He will discuss his research of over 200 university and college programs in music technology, and suggest possible futures for this nascent academic field. 


Scott L. Phillips, Ph.D. is a prominent music technology educator and researcher. He frequently makes scholarly presentations, leads panels, and reads academic papers at top music, education, and technology conferences. Phillips is an Oxford University Press author and his book, Beyond Sound: The College and Career Guide in Music Technology (2013) is the definitive work on music technology college programs in the United States, containing the most comprehensive listing and analysis of college and university music technology programs currently available. He also serves on the advisory boards of several professional music organizations including the College Music Society, the Association for Technology in Music Instruction, and the Technology Institute for Music Educators. He is co-director of the Music Technology Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he teaches music technology courses, coordinates internships, and directs the highly regarded UAB Computer Music Ensemble. As a highly sought-after trainer, clinician, and consultant, he has represented major music technology companies and has worked with hundreds of audio professionals and educators throughout the United States.


Please note new date and time

Thursday 6 March
17.30 – 19.00
Room 826
Come along to discuss ethical issues raised in your doctoral research.

Note: This is a repeat of the session we ran last term, this time in the evening to allow others to attend.  You are welcome to attend again.

Date: Wednesday 19 February

Time: 12.30 – 14.00

Venue: Room 675, 20 Bedford Way, IoE main building 

In this session, two upgrade examiners, Dr Claire Robins and Professor Dominic Wyse and a recently successful student, Sean Curran, will recount their experiences of the upgrade process, including offering advice and tips on what to expect from and how to prepare for your upgrade. All are welcome. Unfortunately, refreshments will not be served, but please feel free to bring along your own sandwiches, etc.  To give us an idea of numbers, please email Hazel Croft if you would like to attend.

1. Moving from MPhil to PhD: surviving the upgrade

Wednesday 19 February
12.30 – 14.00
Room 675

In this session, a selection of upgrade examiners and a recently successful student will give advice and tips on what to expect from your upgrade, and how to be prepared

2. Ethics in Doctoral Research
Thursday 6 March
17.30 – 19.00
Room 826
This is a repeat of the session we ran last term, this time in the evening to allow others to attend. You are welcome to attend again.

3. Reflexivity
Wednesday 26 March
17.30 – 19.00
Room 739

Three PGR students and an academic member of staff will present a session looking at the concept of reflexivity and how it has been applied in their own research.

Research Seminar Announcement

The Different Hearing project and classroom composing in the Czech Republic

 Gabriela Vsetickova, Department of Music Education, Palacky University, Olomouc, Czech Republic

Tuesday 28 January 2014, 11.45-12.45pm, Room 541

Further details from Lucy Green,

  A presentation of the key concepts, principles and objectives, the creative means and forms of the Different Hearing project for creativity in music education and an outline of its position in the framework of the Czech system of music education.

The Different Hearing project is the first and still the only project in the Czech Republic focused on making music accessible in the form of children’s elementary composing. It ensued from the endeavour to transform music education into a subject within which creativity plays as significant a role as reproduction, and creating music is as crucial as performing it; and where everyone is afforded the opportunity to develop his or her abilities and skills irrespective of their previous musical and socio-cultural experience.

Established in 2001, the Different Hearing programme linked up to the conceptions of the British-German Response and Austrian Klangnetze projects. It was inspired by their methodology, emphasis on creativity and utilisation of non-musical elements, as well as team work during lessons. Each sound and each expression is deemed to be musical, each item is considered a musical instrument, spontaneous interaction between sounds is understood as improvisation, and temporal fixation of sounds and their subsequent reproduction as musical composition. 

Gabriela Vsetickova is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Music Education, Palacky University in Olomouc, Czech Republic.  After MA studies in music education and history she completed her PhD in music education in 2011.  Besides music history (Czech music and music of the 20th century) her professional interest encompasses creative activities for children, especially classroom composing.  She has participated in the organisation and development of the Different Hearing project for creativity in music education since 2007. 


One-to-one advice for doctoral students

Did you know that the IOE runs two services, which offer specialist, one-to-one help and advice with qualitative research methods and also a statistical advisory service for those wishing to use quantitative methods? Please do make the most of these excellent services. 

Qualitative Research Service

Students can book 20 minute one-to-one consultation sessions with Dr Will Gibson to talk about specific aspects of their qualitative work. Whether at an early stage of research design, or at a later stage of data analysis, these sessions give students the opportunity to work through particular methodological issues, to think about qualitative data collection strategies, or to consider approaches to analysis in a friendly and relaxed one-to-one environment.  There will be four, twenty minute sessions available every two weeks in the Autumn term and places will be offered on a first come, first served basis. Students who are given appointments are asked to make sure they cancel in good time if they discover they cannot make them. Sessions can be booked through the Doctoral School Office by emailing  Students should provide their student ID and their Programme of Study. 

Statistical Advisory Service

The Faculty of Policy and Society runs a Statistical Advisory Service. Appointments can be made through David Fowkes in Room 211, 55 Gordon Square.  Telephone 020 7612 6654 or e-mail Students should provide their student ID and their Programme of Study. 

Students wishing to take advantage of this facility should have previously discussed their requirements for statistical advice with their supervisor and then ask their supervisor to email David Fowkes recommending that they seek specialist advice.The student needs to email David a one-page summary before their appointment, with a brief description of their research and the questions they would like to raise.  There is a range of issues on which the statisticians can advise which include sampling, experimental design, all issues to do with statistical analysis, and the use of specialist statistical packages.They do not, however, offer advice about the routine use of the SPSS package, for which students should seek help from the Computing Service Helpdesk.


Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES)

 PRES survey feedback to supervisors

The Postgraduate Research Experience Survey runs every two years. This year 122 HEIs took part. It has questions on 7 areas: supervision, resources, research culture, progress and assessment, responsibilities, research skills, professional development, intellectual climate and administration.

 There were over 50 pages of qualitative comments. Below we reprint a selective summary of comments from two sections – ‘supervision’ and ‘research culture’. This has been sent to all doctoral supervisors in the faculty, as the first stage of feedback on the PRES survey. Supervisors will be discussing this at the next faculty Supervisors’ forum on 9 January.

 We also want to hear from PGR students about ways in which you think we should address the issues raised by students in the survey. Please do contact Hazel or PGR Director Claudia Lapping with any suggestions or comments. We will pass these on to the Supervisors’ forum.

You might also wish to raise any of these or similar issues with your supervisor, the Students’ Union or one of the PGR delegates, who represent doctoral students at the IOE’s committees.



1. Feedback

‘My supervisor provides extensive and detailed feedback – I am very lucky to get this.’

‘My supervisors feedback on drafts is detailed, focused and challenging’

‘At the initial stages I needed far more support, but as my research develops, my supervisor plays the role of protagonist – and needs to challenge…’

 ‘I wasted my first year or two because my supervisor would only see me if I had submitted something, and was then very critical, which meant I found it even harder to write.’

‘More detailed, less ‘global’ comments might sometimes be useful’

‘Lack about shared cultural background can lead to impossibility to decode comments and how they are meant.’

 •          Should we ask our students what kinds of feedback they find useful?

•          And/or, should we explain why we feel detailed feedback may not always be appropriate?

 N.B. A useful account of how students/supervisors can have different approaches and expectations re. writing and feedback:

 2. Regularity of contact and meetings

‘My supervisors are great, we meet regularly’

‘My supervisors were very supportive whilst I was abroad completing my fieldwork – I continued to have regular contact with them’

 ‘Because of the busy schedule of my supervisor, supervision has been rather sporadic’

‘It sometimes takes a long time to get to see my supervisor. Six weeks on average but sometimes longer’

‘If your supervisor has a personal assistant it can be difficult to arrange meetings’

 REMINDER: The expected number of supervision meetings are: 9-15 times a year for a full-time student; 6-9 times a year for a part-time student. These supervisions may average out across the duration of the student’s registration. See:

 •          To what extent may it be appropriate to for contact and meetings with students to vary to fit the supervisors’ schedule?

•          To what extent is this definitely not appropriate?

 N.B. If you know you have difficulty scheduling regular meetings with your PGR students, it might be useful to talk about this with your department PGR tutor.

 3. Structure and organisation

‘Great. My supervisors give me deadlines and feedback. They keep me on track in terms of preparation for upgrade, etc.’

‘My supervisor does not know how to help me structure my time or my thesis very well’

‘My supervisor failed to follow through with the internal reader of my thesis’

 •          To what extent is it our responsibility to help students structure their time, and/or their writing?

•          Do you feel confident that you can provide relevant support for all the many different aspects of the doctoral process?

•          What kinds of support from us might help you with this?

 4. Communication, respect, flexibility

‘I currently enjoy a good supervisory relationship … including open communication and a respect for my professional background.’     

‘I have been supported very caringly and compassionately by my supervisor although he admits to having limited knowledge’.

 ‘My supervisor wants my research to match his interests and to quote from his work, rather than enabling me to pursue my own line of enquiry.’

‘Even supervisors with the most outstanding achievements seem to shy away from intellectual challenges that are off their beaten track’

‘There are times when it seems that there is a pre ordained route that one is being shoehorned into’

 •          What are the difficulties when students’ interests differ from our own areas of expertise?

•          When and/or to what extent can/should we be able to accept challenges from students with different backgrounds?


One area where we didn’t score especially high in the quantitative results was in the questions on ‘Research Culture’. There was wide recognition that there are opportunities available, but the responses also raise some interesting issues we might consider:

 1. Specialist seminars?

‘The most useful seminars for my study have been [specialist group]. Doctoral School seminars are more generic.’

 •          Are there ways we might provide doctoral students with more consistent access to specialist seminars?

 2. Online seminars?

‘Distance makes attendance at seminars and meetings difficult.’

 •          Should we be automatically trying to make all research seminars available online?

 3. Spaces for interaction?

‘A research ambiance is linked to having a room or rooms and an environment where people can congregate … To say research culture feels limited to let’s get down to work…’

 •          Should we be thinking about how to create more informal spaces/events for interaction between researchers?

 4. Inclusivity of seminars?

‘… there is a weekly seminar but it tends to be taken by established researchers, and rarely by ioe doctoral students’

‘the seminars are interesting but dominated by the academic staff.’

 •          Should we find ways to make seminar programmes and attendance more inclusive?


FCL Workshops

The faculty held a successful workshop on the Literature Review on Thursday 21 November. The workshop was run by Professor Paul Dowling and over 40 doctoral students attended the session.    






Ethics in     Doctoral Research


With Dr     Claudia Lapping


Wednesday 11 December


12.30 – 13:30


Room 777






We will be holding the second of our faculty doctoral workshops on Ethics in Doctoral Research. This workshop will provide an opportunity to consider the kinds of ethical issues that emerge throughout all stages of research, from initial design and formal ethical review, to processes of data collection, analysis, writing and publication. All doctoral students and doctoral supervisors in the faculty are invited to attend.


You must register in advance for this workshop, as there will be some preliminary reading. Please contact  Hazel Croft by Friday 6 December at the latest:

 British Library Open Day for new Social Science for PhD students

The British Library is running an open day to introduce new PhD students in Social Sciences to the Library. These will take place on Friday 13th December. The Open Day is a chance for new PhD students to discover the Library’s unique research materials. Students will learn about the Library’s Social Sciences collections, find out how to access them, and meet BL staff and other researchers in their field.  Lunch and refreshments will be provided. A small number of £20 travel bursaries are available for students coming from outside Greater London.

British Library Conference Centre, London.

13 December 2013 / 10.00 – 16.30 / £5
You can find out more and book here:

 Follow us on Twitter!  

 We also have a Twitter account, where we will post news about events in IOE and elsewhere, conferences and any useful articles we come across. Twitter is now one of the most useful ways in which you can find out what is going on in the world of academia, research and beyond –  keep in touch and do follow us: @FCL_Doc

Imperatives and Challenges for Popular Music Education in Mainland China

Professor Wai-Chung Ho, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong

 Tuesday 26th November 2013, 1-2pm, Room 826

Further details from Lucy Green,

Since the 1990s mainland China’s modernisation and globalisation, together with its transition to a market economy, have created new imperatives for, and challenges to the school curriculum. Many reforms have been initiated to improve the quality of basic education in China, including areas such as the school curriculum, material incentives, teachers’ professional development, and students’ personal interests. As a result, the 2011 reform of the Curriculum Standards for Primary Education and Junior Secondary Education mark the first time that the school curriculum has officially included popular songs. With particular reference to Beijing and Shanghai, this empirical study explores Chinese adolescents’ popular music preferences in their daily lives, and to what extent and in what ways they prefer learning popular music, rather than more traditional music curricula, in schools. Data were drawn from questionnaires completed by 2,971 students in Beijing, 1,730 secondary students in Shanghai, interviews with 55 students in Beijing and 60 Shanghai students between 2011 and 2012. The findings can be interpreted as indicating that music and music education, whether in formal or informal settings, are complex cultural constructs that are reinvented through the intertwined interplay between different actors’ preferred musical styles in their multileveled cultural world. This study examines the challenges that mainland China faces concerning the promotion of popular music in school music education, by moving beyond oppositions between culture and power, tradition and modernity, the global and the national, and the pedagogical issues resulting from the introduction of popular music in contemporary China’s education.

All doctoral students in FCL welcome:

1.     The Literature Review

 With Professor Paul Dowling

Thursday 21 November

17:30 – 19:00

Room 739


2.     The Ethics Review

 With Dr Claudia Lapping 

Wednesday 11 December

12.30 – 13:30

Room 777




A warm welcome to the faculty and the new academic year to all new and continuing doctoral students who are part of the Faculty of Children and Learning.
This is the first edition of the FCL doctoral students’ newsletter, which will be sent out by email and also published on the FCL doctoral studies blog, along with news about seminars, conferences and other events. We hope you find it an interesting and useful resource.
You can access the blog at the following link:
Please do save this link on your computer so you can keep in touch with news about doctoral events and issues. We also welcome any suggestions for things you would like to see covered in the newsletter or on the blog. We would also like to invite short contributions that you would like us to consider publishing on the blog.

Doctoral Supervision

Your relationship with your supervisor (s) is one of the most important you will forge during the period of studying for your doctorate.
If you haven’t already, do contact your supervisor to set up the first meeting of the term. Students, and supervisors, often find it useful if at the beginning of the academic year you agree a schedule of supervisory meetings and a set of targets and aims for the year ahead. This can provide a useful focus and – as the meetings are more likely to take place if they are scheduled in advance (even if some have to be changed later), and the aims and targets can provide a useful reference point for discussing and assessing your progress through the year.
If you have any concerns with regards to any aspect of your supervision, please do contact the PGR tutor for your department who will be able to talk through your concerns and offer advice. You can also contact Claudia Lapping, the faculty Director for PGR to discuss any concerns ( )

Supervision Notes

Writing notes of the meeting can be a very useful and productive exercise, helping to clarify the points discussed, any difficulties you are experiencing and further reading and research to be done. This written record can also be very helpful when it comes to completing your Annual Progress Review, which takes place at the end of the academic year. We ask all doctoral students to keep a record of their supervisory sessions. Supervision notes should be emailed to your supervisor, in order to make sure you and your supervisor have understood the same points from the meeting. Please copy the faculty research administrator (Hazel Croft for students in CCM and CPA or Pui Sin for students in CFH or EYPE ) into the email, as they will save a copy of the supervision records (confidentially) in case they are needed for reference at a later date.

Resources for Doctoral Students

Need some inspiration or advice on how to get started, sustain and continue, or to finish your doctoral research?
There are a range of resources for doctoral students, including many ‘How to do a Doctorate’ books; books on writing techniques, and websites containing useful resources for doctoral students. We highlight just a few of the many resources available.

Useful Books

Rowena Murray, How to Write a Thesis – contains useful tips and writing exercises, including overcoming ‘writer’s block’
Joan Bolker, Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes A Day – has practical advice and useful tips for those who are combining their doctorate with a job, childcare and other commitments
G Rugg and M Petre, The Unwritten Rules of PhD Research – recommended by previous IOE PhD students as an invaluable, and very down-to-earth, guide to doing a PhD
Patrick Dunleavey, Authoring a PhD – Also highly recommended by past IOE students as providing a great way to pick your way through the whole PhD process


Vitae: postgraduate researchers section
The Vitae website offers a range of resources for doctoral students and postgraduate researchers. You can access the site at the following link:
Vitae for PGR researchers
Recommended items on the site include:
PGR Tips: Bitesize tips on starting, sustaining and completing your doctoral research. Topics have included: ‘Writing your Thesis’; ‘Being aware of your values’; ‘action planning’; ‘finishing your doctorate’ and many more. You can also sign up for the PGR tips email bulletin
Supervision and Key Issues: A range of articles and resources, including videos, about building and managing the relationship with your supervision. Highly recommended
Completing your doctorate: Specific tips on finishing your doctorate including on the final writing up, the submission and the viva
What’s up doc? Blog for postgraduate researchers: interesting blog, inviting comments and articles from all doctoral researchers

The Thesis Whisperer
This is a great resource for doctoral students, which collates together a host of useful links, and which has sections on writing, academic culture, your relationship with your supervisor, productivity tools, book reviews and news from the academic world. You can access this site at the following link: The Thesis Whisperer

Ethos – electronic thesis online service
This digital service, run by the British Library, enables students and academics to access thousands of doctoral theses, which have now been digitised. This is an invaluable service which provides free access to the full text of over 300,000 theses provided by over 120 institutions.
Please go to the following link for more information: Ethos

Follow us on Twitter!
We also have a Twitter account, where we will post news about events in IOE and elsewhere, conferences and any useful articles we come across. Twitter is now one of the most useful ways in which you can find out what is going on in the world of academia, research and beyond – make sure you keep in touch and do follow us:

Suggestions and Contributions
Please send in any ideas for articles, events and issues you’d like covered, suggestions about useful resources and short pieces for publication to:
Hazel Croft, FCL PGR administrator: