Celebrating 100 years of postgraduate research

In 2021 and 2022 we celebrated 100 years of postgraduate research at the University of Bristol.

From the first PhD, awarded to Lily Batten in 1921, to the present day, we will be promoting and celebrating the exciting and diverse work of our postgraduate research community and looking to the future to imagine what the next 100 years of postgraduate research might hold.
  • Lily Batten's work on 'The British species of the Genus Polysiphonia' was approved by the Board of Examiners on 5 May 1921, and at Senate.
  • Lionel Stanley Palmer, a Physicist, was approved for the award in June 1921 on the basis of five papers.

In collaboration with the Development and Alumni Relations Office and the Brigstow Institute, the Bristol Doctoral College has been working with postgraduate researchers (PGRs) and other divisions of the University on a range of opportunities to get involved with these celebrations.

100 Years Films

Over the last year a small team of PGRs; Surangama Datta, Lena Ferriday, Sophie Osbourne and James Watts, have been working with artist Bryony Gillard to co-produce three short films. More than Bristol reflects on the global experiences of our early PhD pioneers and the impact of their research for Bristol and beyond. This work celebrates the diversity of our past and current PGR community and marks 100 years since the first PhD was awarded at the University of Bristol.

The project took between November 2020 and August 2021. These short films were screened on Wednesday January 26 as part of our celebratory event. 

Share your memories

To celebrate 100 years of postgraduate research at the University of Bristol we are collecting stories from our PhD and PGR alumni as well as current postgraduate researchers.
We warmly invite you to help us mark our PhD centenary year by sharing your memories of your time undertaking a PhD or other postgraduate research at Bristol.
We’d love to hear your favourite memories and any interesting stories that you have about your time at the University. You might like to give a special mention to someone who helped shape your experience at Bristol, or reflect on how your experience and research degree has shaped what you’ve done since. We would also love to see your pictures.
Share your story by completing this online form. We may get back in touch with you to find our more details and expand on your story.
* By taking part in this initiative you automatically give your permission for us to use any information that you provide in promotional material. To find out more about how we will use your data please read our privacy notice

100 Years Celebration Event

On Wednesday 26 January we marked our centenary year with an evening reception in the Great Hall of the Wills Memorial Building.

During this event we were pleased to screen three short films co-created by artist Bryony Gillard and four of our PGRs. The creative team shared their experiences of the project as part of a panel session which reflected on the impact that these early PhD pioneers had on Bristol and the wider world and on their own current experience as research students.

This panel session was followed by a discussion on the 'Future of the PhD' looking at how research degrees are evolving to meet current challenges and how they may look in the next 100 years. 

The celebrations were introduced by Professor Hugh Brady, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol. 

News, updates and blog posts

11 March 2021: [blogpost] A subterranean story — how a physicist helped to establish the University’s Speleological Society

Research and public engagement internships

During 2021 a team of three PGRs worked in partnership with the Brigstow Institute and Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (Postgraduate Research) to conduct some initial archival research into the first PhDs conducted at the University of Bristol between 1921 and 1939. The project is being carried out with support from the Special Collections team in the University of Bristol Library.


How can I get involved?

Staff and students across the university can take part in a number of ways:

Explore our archives. We will be making our research materials available to staff and students across the university
Hold your own celebrations. We can provide you with a pack of ideas as well as collating relevant biographies of postgraduate researchers working in our specific discipline, School or Faculty.
Add to our archives. If you have conducted your own research into early postgraduate research or PhDs within your School or Faculty, please get in touch about adding your content to our archives.
Stay updated. Sign up for our emails about the project.
Share your stories of postgraduate research at Bristol. From highlights of your degree to what you think your discipline will look like 100 years from now, using our hashtag #bristolpgr100.

If you have any questions of would like to join our mailing list please contact the Bristol Doctoral College team at doctoral-college@bristol.ac.uk


Students cheer outside the Victoria Rooms circa 1929.
Students cheer outside the Victoria Rooms c.1929. Image credit: Photo courtesy of University of Bristol Library, Special Collections.
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