Postgraduate Workshop Resources


In November 2017 DARG ran a postgraduate workshop focusing on developing a communications and impact strategy for your work. For those who were unable to attend we have included some useful resources below and a communication and impact plan template available to use here.



Useful resources

  • INASP does a lot of work with development policy-makers and can provide useful advice on Policy Influence Plans. In addition, they have some great resources for those working in developing countries, and information about communicating research with academics and practitioners in other countries. (Follow them on Twitter: @INASPinfo)


  • Research to Action has a huge number of resources on making sure your research is accessible and used by development practitioners and policymakers. Specifically, there are loads of useful guides and templates available here. (Follow them on Twitter: @Research2Action)


  • Communications & Impact strategy guides: In addition to our basic template, ESRC has a useful guide here, and a list of alternatives can be found here.


  • If you’re interested in creative methods of communication, check out PositiveNegatives, which produces some fantastic comics and animations on humanitarian and development issues. (Follow them on Twitter: @PosNegOrg) If you think a creative medium could be a great way to share your work/research “story” with particular groups, why not check out the Arts-based courses taught at your university – producing a film, animation, comic, podcast etc. linked to your research could be a great project for an undergraduate or Masters-level student, either as part of their course or to develop their portfolio…



  • Remember to check out courses offered by your institution. Most have training or resources on publishing, working with the media, using social media as an academic etc. And if they don’t, make a request for them to start offering such support! It’s also worth making sure you are always letting someone from your university or research centre know if you are trying to promote a publication/blog post/presentation etc. so they can help you to share it widely and offer you communications support.


  • Lastly, if you are thinking of trying out Twitter as an academic, start off by ‘following’ some DARG-related profiles:
    – RGS Postgraduate Forum: @PGF_RGSIBG
    – RGS Postgrad Forum for Masters students: @PGFmasters
    – RGS Higher Education: @RGS_IBGhe
    – Prof Dorothea Kleine: @dorotheakleine
    – Gemma Pearson: @GemKPea
    – Hannah Smith: @hannahesmith_13
    … and check out who they follow.

DARG PGR Workshop- 14th November

PGR Workshop: Developing a communications and impact strategy for your research


Organisers: Developing Areas Research Group (DARG), Royal Geographical Society
Date and time: Tuesday 14th November 2017, 12-4pm
Location: Meeting room 1, The Octagon Centre, Sheffield, S10 2TQ


Workshop description: This workshop will guide postgraduate researchers to develop a communications and impact strategy for their research. The focus will be on varied and innovative ways of communicating research with audiences and stakeholders outside of academia. The workshop will include case studies and examples from external speakers, followed by group discussion and time to draft your own strategy and seek feedback from your peers.

Target audience: The workshop is open to all postgraduate researchers, but is primarily designed for Masters and PhD students from Geography (Physical and Human), International Development and Social Science backgrounds.


Tickets: £5, available here

For more information, please contact Hannah Smith at

DARG Postgraduate Travel Award Report- Belen Martinez

Empowering women through a non-traditional economic activity: A case study of a female operated trekking company in Ladakh


My research, based on a feminist approach, analyses how a group of women in Ladakh is navigating their gender relations in order to work in the trekking sector, a traditionally male dominated environment. By using a case study of the only all-female run travel company in Ladakh, the research addresses the impact that challenging stereotypes is having for these women. It also studies the impact that a project like this can have in contrast to an income generation program.

The idea came from a personal interest in the role of women in different cultures and how particular activities can shape women’s agency impacting individuals and wider society. Ladakh was chosen as an example of the impact of modernisation and the connection between sustainability and women. Ladakh remained almost totally isolated, until 1962 when a road was built by the Indian Army to link the region with the rest of the country. Then, in 1975, the region was opened up to foreign tourists, and the process of development began. Because this process has happened in a short period of time, it is easy to see the detrimental effect upon community and ecology that progress in Ladakh is having. In this context, women are the ones taking an active role in preserving their culture and looking for alternative incomes.


General overview

Although the importance of women’s empowerment in achieving sustainable development has been increasingly recognised, still most initiatives focus on income-generating projects for poor women in the assumption that the economic empowerment will also bring empowerment to other aspects of their lives. These initiatives are trying to respond to the need of poor women by making relatively small investments in income-generating projects. Often such projects fail because they are motivated by welfare and not development concerns, offering women temporary and part-time employment in traditionally female skills such as knitting and sewing which have limited markets. The question arises as to whether women would be more empowered if they had the option to leave traditionally female-dominated work roles and enter other economic sectors.


Research and fieldwork

Thanks to the DARG postgraduate travel award I could travel to Leh in September 2016 to conduct my research. Being there for a month and conducting face-to-face in-depth interviews to collect primary data was vital. It was important to carry out the interviews in situ so I could provide an appropriate space for participants to express themselves, as well as give examples of their everyday working lives.

The participants were all trekking guides currently working in the Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company (LWTC). The LWTC is a travel agency owned and operated by Ladakhi women. Local guide Thinlas Chorol founded the LWTC in 2009 to give women in Ladakh the opportunity to participate in the traditionally male-dominated areas of trekking and mountain climbing. The LWTC is the only all-female trekking agency in Ladakh, with women involved in organising and running treks, which also serves as a unique example to the rest of women in Ladakh.

In total, I conducted eleven audio-recorded interviews. These were conducted in English, which meant no translator was necessary, and therefore without anyone else present, ensuring the anonymity of participants.


Findings and Discussion

The results have shown different impacts in diverse areas and the complexity of how these women are negotiating their role between their public and private lives. By working in the mountaineering sector, they have achieved financial independence and have learnt about other cultures, improving their ability to communicate with others and bringing some self-efficacy. As well as gaining confidence from learning English and meeting foreigners, many participants seem to feel empowered by and proud of working in a role traditionally filled by men. However, in the private sphere, women are still expected to fulfil their role of carer and their household responsibilities, resulting in a double burden when they join the labour market. The research has also shown that these women are still not prepared to profoundly challenge the socio-cultural norms and expectations imposed upon them.

A high agency of decision-making was visible in their independence in controlling economic resources, which in turn shows a high level of economic empowerment. However, their participation in the village councils seems to be extremely low, which shows how unrepresented and unheard they are in the decision-making structures. These women have not yet gained the necessary confidence to insist on their voices being heard in the political sphere.

The findings demonstrate that projects focusing only on economic empowerment ignore other vital aspects of women’s empowerment, allowing social and patriarchal norms to go unchallenged and continue to limit women’s lives. Freeing women from these constraints and unlocking their potential should be considered a priority in future initiatives.


DARG Postgraduate Travel Prize Winner- Belen Martinez

Many congratulations to Belen Martinez who was awarded this years DARG Postgraduate travel prize. Belen is about to start her research project as part of her MSc in Sustainable Development at the University of the West of England.

The title of her research project is:

“Empowering Women through non-traditional economic activities. A case study of a female operated travel company in Ladakh”

Belen Martinez

 The research project aims to explore the involvement of women in non-traditional economic activities as a way to empower them and impact their communities. It intends to explore it by focussing on women working in a male-dominated environment such as mountaineering using the case of the Ladakhi Women Travel Company based in Leh, India.

Despite empowerment becoming a widely used term in the sustainability field, there is scant research into the empowering aspects of non-traditional work, especially in a male dominated environment. Trekking has always been a thoroughly male-dominated economic sector in Ladakh. By using the case study of the only all-female run travel company there, this research plans to address the impact of non-traditional work in relation to gender and development and how it can differ from an income generation program.

Ladakh was chosen as an example of the impact of modernisation and the connection between sustainability and women. The development in Ladakh is having a detrimental effect upon community and ecology, and women are taking an active role in preserving their culture and looking for alternative income.

This project will be framed around the ideas of Ecofeminism and the emphasis in the ways both nature and women are treated by patriarchal society. Ecofeminists agree that the domination of women and the domination of nature are fundamentally connected and that environmental efforts are therefore integral with work to overcome the oppression of women.


We wish Belen the best of luck with her research and are looking forward to her report on her return.

If you are interested in postgraduate funding from DARG the next closing date will be 1st May 2017. More information can be found on our funding page.


DARG Postgraduate Workshop- 25th May 2016

We are holding a one day event to explore the application of academic research and research skills to different sectors beyond academia. The event will be held at Senate House, London on 25th May 2016 and will include speakers from public, private and non-profit sectors.

The day will include panel discussions on the relevance of research for impact, policy and programming with a focus on how the skills you have learned during your PhD can be adapted to these areas.

Additionally, there will be the follwoing expert speakers presenting on how to effectively communicate your PhD research outside of academia.

  • Stacey Davies │ Managing Director at Practical Action Publishing
  • Jenny Cann │Head of Research, Migration & Borders Analysis at the Home Office (TBC)
  • Natalie Neil │ Senior Research & Impact Manager at the Fairtrade Foundation
  • Mark Henderson │Policy Officer – DG Trade European Commission
  • Tim Uwin │UNESCO Chair in ICT4D, and Emeritus Professor of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is also an Honorary Professor at Lanzhou Univeristy in China.
  • Dr Jay Mistry │ Reader at Royal Holloway, University of London │ Jay was the Coordinator of Project COBRA – Future Challenges, Local Solutions, an EU-funded project working with Indigenous groups in the Guiana Shield of South America.
  • Lydia Tanner │Consultant at Jigsaw Consult specialising in evaluation work relating to primary healthcare, education, community resilience and local responses to emergencies and conflict.
  • John King │Post Graduate Student at Royal Holloway researching the relationships between social science and public policy making, and how social scientists work to translate their ideas so that they can be used by policy makers.
  • Nelly Ali │Post Graduate Student at Birkberk conducting an ethnographic study with street girls and young street mothers in Cairo, Egypt. Nelly has a large blog and twitter following and will discuss the ethics of publishing PhD work online.

To book and to see updates on the confirmed speakers, please see our Eventbrite page here

Postgraduate Workshop 2016

DARG Event- Careers in Academia- June 2015

On the 5th June 2015 the annual postgraduate DARG careers workshop took place at the University of Manchester with a focus on pursuing a career in academia. It was a really fantastic and rewarding day with many inspirational and incredibly knowledgeable speakers. Here is what some of the attendees had to say about the event:

“I think one of the best things about the day was that you were able to ‘historically’ track the way the speakers were able to shape their own career direction, and the way they overcame the challenges facing anybody considering an academic job post PhD. The informal nature of the event also allowed for a deeper discussion about work-life balances and how to juggle the different types of roles you have to fulfil to progress in academia.”

“I think the workshop was really good. It got me thinking about the future… the openness of the speakers about the realities, struggles and success of the PhD process and life after was really good to hear. I think more workshops like these need to be organised.”

“I think it was an interesting workshop specially in the context that I got a first hand insight to the struggles/possibilities/flexibilities that an early career researcher can face and how to cope with them. First hand accounts are always immensely useful. Not many conferences talks about such personal journeys.”

We at DARG are really looking forward to organising next years event so please stay tuned if you would be interested in attending.

Postgraduate Travel Award

DARG provides an annual award to a postgraduate geography student to encourage and assist fieldwork in developing countries.

It is aimed at those preparing for a PhD in topics related to development studies. Applicants should be based at a British institution of higher education, but may be of any nationality. The award must be spent on travel costs, and preference may be given to students in the early stages of their research. The successful candidate is required to provide a short report for the DARG Website.
The award is £800, although smaller awards are sometimes made.

The annual deadline is 1 May. The criteria for the award are:

· Quality of the project design
· Potential significance of the results
· Support from referee (usually the supervisor)
· Financial need
There is no application form, but the following information must be included in all applications as Word/.pdf documents:

Outline of the proposed research (maximum 3 pages – to include full budget)
A full curriculum vitae (including all qualifications and current institutional affiliation)
Full details of all existing or expected financial support
Applicants must also ensure that a reference (normally from the supervisor) arrives before the deadline. Please note that incomplete or late applications will not be considered. Completed applications will be judged by a panel of development geographers and the result notified in June.

All applications should be sent by email to DARG Chair, Nina Laurie:

Deadline: 1 May 2016

Development Geography Careers Workshop- 5th June 2015, Manchester

The upcoming DARG workshop ‘Navigating a Career in Academia: Survival Tips for Development Geographers’ will be held on Friday, June 5th 2015, at the University of Manchester.
This one-day workshop is aimed at postgraduate students thinking about how to pursue a career in academia and will cover topics such as publishing from your PhD and how to find the right position for you.
Tickets cost £15 includes lunch. Tickets can be bought HERE


Call for abstracts: The Third University of Leeds Researchers in Development Network (RiDNet) conference

Call for abstracts: The Third University of Leeds Researchers in Development Network (RiDNet) conference will be taking place on the 12th November 2014. The theme of this year’s conference is Does Research Make a Difference in Development? Bridging the gaps between research, policy and practice and we are very excited to open up the Calls for Abstracts (attached) to all PhD students and early career researchers across the UK. Deadline for submission for presentation and poster abstracts is 31st August 2014.

DARG ANNUAL POSTGRADUATE WORKSHOP 2014 — Book now! Only 10 places left —



— Book now! Only 10 places left —

Careers in the non-governmental organisation (NGO) sector.

Friday 9 May 2014, at the Education Centre, Royal Geographical Society (with IBG).

Arrival from 9.30 for a 10.00 start, workshop ends at 17.15.

The workshop will bring together speakers from some of the UK’s most influential universities and from the largest international NGOs in the world, creating a unique opportunity for postgraduate students to better consider and plan their future careers.


Places cost £14 and must be booked and paid through the following link

Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Lunch and tea/coffee are included in the workshop fee.

The workshop will provide postgraduate students with much needed guidance and information on opportunities and routes into the NGO sector. The sessions cover how to bridge academic work and NGO work; an overview of available positions; possible routes in; and CVs and cover letters. There’ll be a range of speakers, along with practical advice and lively discussions.

Speakers include:

· Madhu Malhotra, Director, Gender, Identity and Sexuality, Amnesty International

· Deborah Hardoon, Senior Researcher, Oxfam GB

· Benedict Dempsey, Senior Humanitarian Affairs Adviser, Save the Children,UK

· Professor Caroline Moser, University of Manchester

· Dr. Deborah Sporton, University of Sheffield

· Janet Reilly, Human Resources, Development Initiatives

· Shaun Harris, Deputy Director, LSE Careers

· Recently Graduated PhD students: Dr. Gemma McKenna (Parliamentary Researcher), Dr. Katy Schofield (Synchronicity Earth), Dr. Susannah Fischer (Researcher Climate Change Group, IIED).

The event will be open to all postgraduate DARG members, whether on taught courses or undertaking research. If you are not a DARG member you can join at the event. Annual student subscription is £2. Membership is free to RGS-IBG postgraduate fellows.

For further information please contact the DARG Postgraduate Representatives

Jessica Hope

Marcia Vera

Regina Hansda