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PGR Study Space

What is PGR Study Space?

  • An online space to work alongside other PGRs
  • Run by PGRs for PGRs
  • Helps PGRs focus on tasks by running facilitated sessions using the pomodoro technique – 25-50 minutes of time writing, then a short break; please see timetable in Microsoft Teams for details as time blocks vary.
  • Meet PGRs from other faculties and disciplines
  • Offers support and friendship
  • Facilitators keep track of the time and remind you when to take breaks

Please scroll down and take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions tab.

When does it run?

PGR Study Space's usual core facilitated sessions are on:

  • Monday 10:00am-12:00pm
  • Wednesday 10:00am-12:00pm
  • Friday 10:00am-12:00pm

There are unfacilitated sessions outside of these hours so you can fit it around your working patterns.

For more information, follow us on Twitter at @PGRStudySpace

PGR Study Space Co-ordinator - Jo Sutherst, PGR in HASS

Jo is a part-time distance PhD student based in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, UK researching the role of the selfie process in the construction and communication of identity on social media. You can find out more about her on Twitter @JoSutherst and Instagram @jo_sutherst_photography, and about her research on Twitter @CyborgianSelf and Instagram @cyborgian_self.

Our faciltators are:

Samantha Pulman, PGR in HASS

After many years as a frontline social work practitioner, Sam has turned her attention to social work education. Her research explores the connections between sustainability as a wider concept and theory base to prepare social workers for practice.  Sam also enjoys volunteering with community groups and taking part in citizen science projects. She has a keen interest in ecology, people and place. You can contact Sam on:

Dr Mengya Zhao, former PGR in HLS

Mengya is a lecturer in Clinical Psychology at University of Liverpool. She is academically made in Exeter as she finished her Masters, PhD and Postdoc at Exeter. She has gained great support from PGR Study Space and would like to know and support more PGRs via this lovely community. Her research focuses on enhancing young people's well-being in a culturally sensitive and accessible way. Her research profile is

Ellen Lesser, PGR in HASS

Ellen is a PGR in the department of Theology and Religion. Her research concerns the relationship between the Christian God and nonhuman animals.

Celine Garbutt, PGR in HASS

Celine is researching translation and language education

Anne Blanchflower, PGR in HASS

Anne is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies. Her research focuses on the root causes of migration from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to the UK.

Naomi Allen, PGR in HASS

Naomi Allen is a PhD candidate in medieval history, researching English monasticism in the fourteenth-to-sixteenth centuries. She is also deeply interested in the interaction of history and fiction, creativity and academia.


You can use PGR Study Space (formerly known as Shut Up and Write) for any task; for those who like to use this time for writing, there are many resources below to support you and to explain the benefits of groups like this.


Blog Posts

Research Posters


  • Supporting PGR Writing by Jo Sutherst for South West Educational Developers Autumn Meeting 2020
  • Supporting Postgraduate Researchers to Write: Developing a Doctoral College Write Club by Kelly Preece and Sally Flint for the Graduate School of Education Research Conference 2018

This group was formerly named Shut Up and Write (SUAW) so the below feedback from PGRs uses the old name of PGR Study Space, though the benefits and ethos are very much the same!


For me, one big realisation was my first SUAW group, back in April 2018. We did pomodori, and that was perhaps the single biggest revelation, right there at the start: that  you need to work when you work, and break when you break. Don’t mix them up: keep them separate. Switch off the email and the so-called ‘social media, avoid them as long as poss. I was soon addicted to SUAW on Friday mornings. 

Later I attended a full day Writer’s Retreat, where we were doing 2 hour blocks of writing. I found that I was able to do that, having got the hang of the 25-minute pomodori.  

Later still I facilitated similar writers’ retreats, which I really enjoyed.  

I spent a lot of time writing my thesis. I mean a *lot*. Starting work at 7am in the library and writing steadily until lunchtime, through all the seasons. I had a kind of confidence about what I was doing that I learnt partly through simply sitting together in silence with a load of other people. I wouldn’t have written such a good thesis, in such a short time, without the discipline that I learnt on SUAW.  

But also, attending and facilitating sessions has shown me all kinds of things: that we can build meaningful connections across faculties and departments. That we can learn from each other. That we are writers, that I am a writer – this is what it’s all about. That PhDs can be *very* different from each other. That we can help each other, and that such help is just as valuable as what we get from supervisors.        

Dr. Ghee Bowman, Doctoral graduate and Postdoctoral researcher in History

Having a community to share ‘space’ with while you work has been hugely beneficial. Even if one of us gets distracted during a session we can share this, and the others immediately jump in with support. Anything goes in these sessions, we can spend a session writing emails, prepping for teaching, writing the news in Cornish for the BBC, chapter structures, re-writes, editing, documents for supervisors and so on. All these are part of the PhD journey and SU&W allows for this and so the academic guilt is diffused. We know all these things have to be done, that we work at our own pace, we all have upgrades and vivas and these achievements are celebrated between us as a shared victory. It’s a joy to be a part of. We all have good days, bad days and epic days. We wander down rabbit holes and meet dead ends, but we still discover because we write. As individuals we write, collectively, we write, everyone produces something by the end of the two hours, even if we bring that work back again to the next session for re-working. There is always output, and this is reinforced by the collective creativity and the differences between us. The differences can be subject matter, location, age, gender or simply our departments. We are a community through our shared experiences of the PhD and the writing groups build upon this. We are not alone in our project or thesis even as we have been told that a PhD can be a lonely endeavour at times because our work is unique to all of us. In SU&W we share ideas and resources and have discovered how our research overlaps. This established (for me at least) that research is both communal and has wider application is spaces many of us had not foreseen. SU&W is a community of communication, support and productivity that is simultaneously fun, engaging, rewarding and academically and socially fulfilling.

Lucy Hilliar, PGR in History

Shut up and write has been a godsend during these difficult times. The feeling of togetherness and support that they provide has kept me sane and kept me focused. I feel connected to my peers. I feel supported by their motivation and encouragement. Without the shut up and write groups things would have been very different. Without the virtual arms around me this journey would have been a lonely one . I feel at ease in the group, like being sat in a pub with friends. We laugh, we joke, we are serious about our work. We share our problems and our difficulties, helping to find solutions and to push each other forward. The sense of belonging is vital in this world of pandemic. I am not alone.  

Jo Sutherst, PGR in Art History and Visual Cultures

Which sessions are being facilitated?

  • The usual schedule for PGR Study Space's core facilitated sessions on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10am-12pm and 2-4pm. There are unfacilitated sessions outside of these hours.

Do I have to stay for a whole session?

  • Not at all. You are free to come and go as you need to

Do I need to sign up in advance to a session?

  • No. Once you have joined the Teams channel you can just come along as you want. It is very flexible.

Do I have to attend for a certain amount of sessions?

  • No. There is no minimum or maximum amount of sessions you need to attend.

Do I need to have my camera on during the session?

  • No. You do not have to have your camera on unless you want to.

Do I need to speak during the session?

  • No. You do not have to speak during the session unless you want to.

Do I need to be writing when in the workroom?

  • No. You are free to do whatever you need to – researching, reading, writing, admin, etc – the choice is yours

How do I join the channel?

I want to become a facilitator for PGR Study Space. How can I start?