Hi everyone! My name’s Moises Vieira. I’m currently doing a PhD in the Department of Politics. In my research, I’m looking at the intersection of migration and healthcare. In a nutshell, I’m interested in the (legal and ethical) challenges around providing healthcare for migrants, in the UK. I have been a student at Manchester since September 2018, where I’ve had the opportunity to discuss my work with world-class researchers, professors and fellow colleagues in the field of International Relations.
In addition to being a researcher, I am also a graduate teaching assistant in the Faculty of Humanities. So far, I have taught a module on the ‘Politics of Globalization’ where the students and I discussed different aspects of living in a globalised world, and how that impacts on social, economic and political life. Furthermore, I have also taught online modules addressing a range of issues within the field of International Relations and beyond: creating a sustainable world, security and trust, cybercrimes, partnerships for development, among others.
As you can see, life as a university student goes way beyond simply attending classes and hitting the books. There are always a lot of extra activities you can engage with, according to your interests, academic background and previous training.
I went to Law School as an undergraduate student, and decided to pursue an academic career following my Master’s degree in International Relations. I undertook my studies in Brazil, so doing my PhD at Manchester has been an incredible experience both on the academic and personal levels. Most of my activities take place on campus, such as attending seminars, lectures, workshops and specific training events for career advancement. Doing a PhD in Politics is a great opportunity to move around and explore the world, too: as a researcher, I have attended academic events in a range of cities in the UK, and international conferences in a few countries, such as Switzerland and Denmark. These have been invaluable experiences in order to further my research, but also to meet new people and explore new places.
Back to my main research interest: What does it mean to be looking at the intersection of migration and healthcare? Let’s say an immigrant (with unlawful residence in the UK) falls ill, and is denied access to the NHS. In my research, I analyse issues like that, and ask questions such as: Is it ethical to deny healthcare for migrants on the grounds of immigration status? What are the human rights implications of refusing healthcare for non-citizens? By addressing these questions, I seek to raise people’s awareness of these important issues around public health and migration, which are very relevant for both migrants and UK citizens alike.
A short guide for healthcare provision for migrants by the charity ‘Doctors of the World’:
The British Medical Association (BMA) opinion on refusing migrants’ access to the NHS:
Some reflections on charging migrants for healthcare:
Some context on the extension of ‘hostile environment’ into a range of areas, including healthcare:
A special focus on pregnancy and migrant women:
A report on the health of migrants in the UK, by the Migration Observatory, at the University of Oxford:
I’m Alex, a 2nd-year Geography PhD
student in the School of Environment, Education and Development at the
University of Manchester. My research is focused on grasslands, and using
new sensing technologies to better understand the ecosystem processes that take
place in them – mainly cycling of carbon, nutrients and water. I look at images
taken from satellites and drones to study the landscapes over a much larger
scale than would be possible on the ground, which means we can monitor how
climate change is affecting these environments, and predict what might happen
in the future.
HOW I GOT HERE:
I always found Geography exciting; thinking about far-away
places and the different lives that take place in them was a fun escape from
the routine of school life. I visited quite a few different universities before
I chose Manchester. This would be my top piece of advice if you’re thinking of
moving away – you will do a lot of growing up during your university years, so
it’s really important to find the right place. Take a few days to visit
different options, get a feel for them, chat to people and imagine yourself
The highlight of my degree was my dissertation project, which
was my first taste of designing my own research tailored exactly to the things
I most enjoyed. I wrote it about landscape restoration in the moorlands of the
Peak District, a place I had visited and loved as a kid which I got to see from
a new, scientific perspective. The other most important thing is the friends I
made. There are so many ways to meet new people and make friends at university
– some of my best friends I didn’t meet until my final year, when I joined
After graduating I did some conservation internships with
two wildlife charities. I was sick of sitting indoors reading about the outside
world, and wanted to go and spend time in it! Both the organisations have lots
of volunteering opportunities if you’re interested in a career outdoors (links
at the bottom). After a couple of months however I’d had my fill of the
outside, and moved to the University of Leicester to work as a Research
Assistant, making a map of landcover changes in the UK as part of a Europe-wide
project. I met so many interesting and inspiring people at Leicester that I
realised I wanted to continue my career in academia after all, and this is when
I decided to apply for my PhD. There are lots of different routes into
academia, so if you don’t know exactly what you want to do then it is
absolutely fine to spend some time exploring, doing different jobs or
volunteering. That way, when you do finally decide on your PhD topic you know
it’s the perfect choice for you.
My first study site, in the Yorkshire Dales
For me, it is very important in research to feel that you
are contributing to something bigger, important and worthwhile, but also doing
something interesting and fun day-to-day.
The big picture of my research is focused around climate
change, and how we can manage our ecosystems to ensure that they will continue
to thrive and provide us with food, fuel, water and other essential resources
in the future. I’m interested mostly in the belowground communities of soil
bacteria and fungi, which are an essential part of any ecosystem as they keep soil
healthy and make it possible for plants to grow, but are often forgotten about
(probably because they are difficult to see). I want to know if it is possible
to make predictions about these communities – for example how diverse they are,
or how active they are – based on properties of the plants that we can see
aboveground. To do this I use sophisticated imagery (this is the fun part!);
cameras which can see the whole spectrum from ultraviolet to short-wave
infrared light, rather than just the blue/green/red we can detect with our
eyes. This reveals very detailed information about the plants, which I hope
will hold the clues to what is going on in the soil.
Satellite image of the Dee estuary
There are some brilliant things and some big challenges that
come with academic life. The best thing is how vibrant and busy the university
environment is; everyone has their own project or projects going on, and there
are loads of opportunities to get involved in all sorts of activities. In the
past year I have been out helping friends with their fieldwork, running events
at schools and museums, helped charity projects, and been on two training
schools abroad in Estonia and Austria. You will never be bored! The downside of
this is that, as you are trusted to manage your own time, it can be easy to get
carried away and overstretch yourself, get stressed out and feel alone in
tackling your enormous workload. My main advice is to communicate honestly with
your colleagues and peers if you are struggling, as you will find that there
are plenty of people who feel the same and are happy to help out.
This is a website with some introductory information and
tutorials about remote sensing for secondary school learners. Topics range from
mapping areas affected by the 2010 Haiti earthquake to correcting distorted
images resulted from a plane being buffeted by the wind. It is developed by the
University of Bonn, so parts of the website are in German. There’s plenty for
English speakers too though! If you’re really keen this might be good to do in
a group with a teacher, perhaps as a lunchtime club. Or you could try yourself
This is a
mapping project set up by Dr Jonathan Huck in the Manchester Geography
department. We need your help to map remote parts of Uganda using satellite
imagery, in order to deliver prosthetic limbs to people affected by war.
The Royal Geographical Society has lots of inspiring
Geography content on its website. There’s a section for schools, with
competitions and events throughout the year for secondary school pupils.
The Wildlife Trusts and Woodland Trust have lots of events
and opportunities for getting involved, especially as a young person. Their
websites are really informative and easy to navigate.
have heard of National Geographic, but I thought I should mention it as this
magazine is what first got me into Geography. You don’t have to get a
subscription yourself – your school or local library might have one.
here is the website for Geography at the University of Manchester! It has loads
of information about the courses, facilities and research that goes on in the
name is Alina, and I am a first-year PhD student in Linguistics. The most
common two questions I get asked when I say this are: “What is Linguistics?”
and “How many languages do you speak?” So, I’ll begin by answering these.
Linguistics is the “scientific study of language”. It is a vast discipline, but
some examples of what linguists are interested in are: how grammars are
constructed, how language changes, what the similarities and differences are between
the languages of the world, how children and adults learn languages, how people’s
use of language varies according to social factors (gender, age, context etc.),
how the order of words in a sentence gives that sentence meaning, the list goes
for the second question, being a linguist does not automatically mean you speak tons of languages (though some do)!
I speak French, I am learning Spanish, and I understand Reunion Creole, which
is the language that my PhD research is on. Reunion Creole is spoken on the
island of La Réunion, a French overseas department (next to Mauritius, in the
Indian Ocean). Creole languages are relatively new languages (compared to
English or French, for example) which arise when groups of speakers with
different native tongues are found in a situation where they need to
communicate with one another. This happened in La Réunion when French
colonisers settled on the island and imported slaves from Madagascar and East
Africa. Later, immigrants from India and China came to the island to work. Over
the subsequent generations, the language formed through the interaction of
these groups of speakers. It is now the native language of the majority of the
island, spoken alongside French. Many of the words in Reunion Creole are
derived from French words, so it may sound familiar to a French speaker, but
the grammars of the two languages are different.
Cap Noir, La Réunion: here’s
a picture which shows you the beautiful mountainous landscape of La Reunion
how did I find myself doing a PhD on this topic?! I have always had a
fascination for foreign languages, and just words in general, which led me to study
French at undergraduate level. During my degree, I chose modules in French
Linguistics and really enjoyed them. I enjoy the discipline as it applies the
scientific rigour and logic of the Sciences and Maths, to an inherently social
phenomenon: language. In the third year of my degree, I got the opportunity to
go on a year abroad. I chose to study in La Réunion, and it was there that I
discovered Reunion Creole. On returning,
I decided I wanted to continue studying and explore the subject of Linguistics
in more depth with an MA and PhD.
PhD project investigates the syntax and focus structure of Reunion Creole. This
is essentially how the word order of a sentence can be manipulated to change its
emphasis and by consequence, its meaning. And what is the point in this
research? Firstly, a better understanding of the mechanics of individual
languages enables us to make comparisons with the languages of the world. This
in turn allows us to better understand the faculty of language, which is a
fundamental part of our existence. Secondly, knowledge of the technicalities of
a language also enables us to better teach it in the classroom. In La Réunion,
Reunion Creole is an officially recognised regional language and French is the
national language. Historically, French has been more highly regarded and
continues to be the language of the law, administration and schooling. Like many creole languages, Reunion Creole
has not always been highly regarded with respect to French, despite it being
the native language of the majority of the island. A person’s mother tongue is
a fundamental part of their identity, so I consider it very important that it
be valued. Furthermore, research has suggested that bilingualism has cognitive
benefits, which may reduce the likelihood of dementia, for example. It is
therefore imperative that bilingualism is encouraged, so any research promoting
historically undervalued languages serves this purpose.
La plage de
l’Ermitage, La Réunion.
you’re interested in languages generally, there are plenty of resources that may
feed your curiosity:
Grand Bénare, La
the top of a hike in La Réunion – above the clouds!
My name is
Maria Palapanidou and I am a second-year PhD student in Instrumental/Vocal Music
Composition. My research is about structuring music in a three-dimensional
environment with the help of specific software. I draw various curved surfaces,
colourful shapes, and rectangular planes on a virtual three-dimensional space
to visualise musical parameters, such as which instrument will play first,
second etc. or how loud or soft the dynamics will be. This aggregate ‘3D image’
of the shapes and planes is then used as a compositional tool to translate this
image into a traditional musical score.
For me, doing a PhD in Music is a dream come true. I
have always wanted to continue my Music studies to a postgraduate level. In
order to do so, I did a Bachelors Degree in Piano Performance at the University
of Macedonia in Greece, and I completed a Masters Degree in Instrumental/Vocal Music
Composition at the University of Manchester. As my research is led by my own
practice, it is ultimately important to myself as a developing composer and
musician. It focuses on the way I understand time, space, shapes and their
connection, and how I translate them into a piece of music.
However, this 3D tool I am using can have further
applications in education and musical analysis. Three-dimensional
visualisations can be a very helpful when explaining or describing musical terms
such as register (high or low pitches), tempo (how fast or how slow) and form
(the number of different sections and their order). In addition, I am currently
searching how this ‘3D image’ can be used to help people with hearing loss
understand what a piece of music ‘looks like’ without needing to detect
'In this piece, the
performers 'walk' inside a virtual maze and improvise on their instruments
according to the shapes and colours they see on the walls'
Most of my time, as a full-time student, includes
composing music, listening to other composers’ pieces, reading articles
relevant to my research, attending composition workshops and research forums,
and collaborating with other musicians to organise concerts and rehearsals of
my pieces. Being aware of current trends in composition, new instrumental
techniques and new technology, as well as, receiving feedback from the players
are a very important part of a composer’s life.
What is more, as a pianist, I work with other
composers by performing their pieces and giving them feedback on notation and
pianistic techniques. This double identity (composer-performer) allows me to
understand both sides of musical creation, and helps me realise how to use
notation to communicate a complicated thought through the musical symbols with
'Sketching the four
sections of a string quartet piece (two Violins, one Viola, and one
Violoncello) in three dimensions'
My research has a connection to architectonic features
(space, height, structure, surface, material and colours). One of the most important
musicians to establish this field was a Greek composer named Iannis Xenakis (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iannis_Xenakis). He worked a lot with computer based music, as well
as literally translating an architectonic sketch into music. Some of his very
characteristic works are:
My name’s Richard Gibson and I am a third year PhD candidate
in Bioethics & Medical Jurisprudence in The University of Manchester Law
School. My research examines the social, ethical and legal implications of
allowing people to have their limbs amputated when there is nothing medically
wrong with them. In short, if you wanted to make yourself impaired or disabled,
what arguments exists to support or refute such a decision. In addition to my
research I also work as a teaching assistant on the Jurisprudence (more
commonly known as philosophy of law) course.
In all honesty, I am not sure how I ended up being based in
a school of law, especially given that my background isn’t in law but philosophy.
My A-levels were in Psychology, Biology, ICT and Photography but after
finishing sixth-form I didn’t go straight to university. I took several years
out working in various jobs before finally accepting an offer to study
Philosophy at the University of the West of England; a subject that I picked
slightly at random. It was here that I became interested in ethics and the ways
in which we come to understand what makes decisions right and wrong, good and
bad. When I graduated, I took another couple of years out from education to
work and travel before being awarded a place on the newly formed master’s
programme in Bioethics & Society at King’s College London. It was here that
my interest in ethics was combined with the biological sciences, and
specifically, the concept of human (dis)enhancement. Again, after graduating
from here, I took a couple of years out to work in a variety of roles, to
travel more and enjoy life, before finally making my way to Manchester and the
PhD project on which I currently work.
The project I work on looks to examine what reasons we have
to refuse the request of someone wanting to make themselves impaired or
disabled, and why we have such reasons in the first place. This is important
because the question isn’t a hypothetical one; there are people who wish to
transition from a state of ‘health’ to one of disability and impairment and,
currently, there exists little research into this topic and practically no
guidance on how we should respond to such desires. This is what my work tries
to change. I’m attempting to provide clear moral arguments on why such requests
should, or should not, be respected. In addition to this ethical component, my
research also examines the legality of such requests. For example, if a surgeon
amputated a person’s leg because they wanted it gone, would that surgeon be
subject to criminal prosecution, and if not, why?
My work is highly interdisciplinary and draws upon the work
and theories of scholars and researchers from a vast range of subjects
including philosophy, law, disability studies, medicine, biotechnology,
robotics, psychology, and sociology.
For a good introduction to the varied topics that philosophy
examines, see here.
To read more about the field of bioethics, in its various
forms, check out this blog by
the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, an internationally recognised leader in the
For a guide to the people who wish to transition into
disability and impairment, see this article
You can read about my research centre here.
And, of course, you can follow my work on twitter at @RichardBGibson!