Author Archives: Sarah Fry

Ten Tips to guide overseas students through PhD application process at Cardiff University

By Ahmed Alghamdi

Many of my friends have struggled when they apply to study for a PhD. They think that applying to PhD is similar to Master degree. Therefore, I hope that future students will benefit from my experience and understand the process. When my colleague Sarah asked me to write in our blog, my supervisor was in the room and she advised me to write about the application process. I found it an interesting topic and I started immediately to write for three reasons; to save me future time, to publish it on our blog so my friends and others can get the use from it and to encourage the blog team to keep publishing interesting and useful blogs.

Before I begin to show you the way to get the offer, you should understand that you are applying to Cardiff University which is one of the top universities in the UK, therefore, you should be proud to graduate from Cardiff University; so apply considerable effort to get here.

My Ten Tips for applying to a PhD programme at Cardiff University

1. Read deeply in your field, find the interesting topic and search for the gaps.

2. Write a proposal and cover the important components of the proposal such as;

a. The title

b. Literature ReviewAhmed 2

c. The gap

d. Aims and Objectives of the study

e. Methodology

f. Methods

g. Ethics

h. References


3. On the university website look for the school website and then search for a professor who is interested in your topic in general.

4. Contact him or her and send your proposal via the university email. They may then consider your proposal and either agree to be your supervisor or point you in the direction of another academic.

5. Apply online through the university system, mention the academics name and send your;

a. Proposal

b. CV

c. Master degree certificate

6. Be ready for the interview; it maybe Skype or telephone or face to face. They may ask you;

Ahmeda. To introduce yourself

b. About previous study

c. About your experience

d. About the proposal

e. General questions



7. Wait for the electronic acceptance letter.

8. Apply for a student visa T4

9. Travel to Cardiff by:

a. Plane

b. Train from Paddington Station in London to Cardiff Central Station (£42-£45 – 3:00 hours).

c. Bus from Heathrow airport to Cardiff direct. (£42-£45 – 3:00 hours)

d. Taxi from Heathrow airport to Cardiff direct. (£150-£200 – 2:30 hours)

10. In the first day at university;20140307_115840-1

a. Visit your supervisor

b. Pick up your student Card

c. Attend the induction day




Finally, I hope these steps will help you and don’t forget to visit me in the School of Healthcare Sciences.



Annual Post Graduate Symposium 2013

By Abdulrahman Aldawood

The Post Graduate Annual conference was held on 19 November 2013 in the Glamorgan Building at Cardiff University. The Annual Conference is a student led conference organised by PhD students at the School for Health Care Sciences and is an opportunity for students to present their research in a supportive and informative environment. Sixty-seven delegates attended and participated in the one day Conference, which brought together post graduate students, professors, readers, lecturers and faculty members from Cardiff University.

Committe members with Professor Terry Marsden. From left, Dominic Roche, Jane Davies, Prof. Terry Marsden, Sarah Fry, Alison Seymour

committee members with Professor Terry Marsden. From left, Dominic Roche, Jane Davies, Prof. Terry Marsden, Sarah Fry, Alison Seymour

The conference started with a Keynote address from Professor Terry Marsden, Dean of the Graduate College, Professor of Environmental Policy and Planning. Professor Marsden spoke about his field of research, sustainability of people and place. This was very informative and provided a good introduction to some of the student presentations about health and society.

There was a busy schedule for the rest of the conference with ten PhD students presenting their work. Each student had twenty minutes to talk and there were excellent presentations from students at different stages of their research.

Qualitative research topics ranged from marginalised and hard to reach communities, communities overseas with specific cultural needs, how therapeutic relationships work and decision making in teenagers and young adults with cancer. Presentations with a quantitative research focus ranged from respiratory function in Huntington’s disease, recovery of knee injury in athletes and reducing harm to patients with cardiac pacing wires during radiotherapy.

Poster prize winner Lorraine Joomun

There were poster presentations on display for the duration of the conference and these were judged by Professor Terry Marsden for first, second and third prizes. The first prize was awarded to Lorraine Jooman for her poster about her PhD research; How homeless women with dependent children access healthcare services.


The conference was closed by Dr Katie Featherstone, Director of Postgraduate Research School of Healthcare Sciences.

In the limelight by Nikki West

For the past few months Maverick TV have been following me in my day-to-day work as a Nurse Consultant at University Hospital Wales. The request came from the nursing board that channel 5 were doing a documentary on ‘Nursing’ and wanted nurses to show the diversity of their roles. As breast care is always somehow in the news, the latest being Angelina Jolie and her risk reducing mastectomies, I knew our department would be a target. The specialist nurse was not keen to do it and, in a way, I had reservations but we were gently persuaded.

Nicki running pictureAlthough I have been on TV many times in team sports, such as It’s a Knockout, Body Heat, Fort Boyard and Desert Forges, this was for pleasure and fun, whereas in my professional role I had to think about the consequences before allowing any filming; I was worried about the patients because of the sensitivity of the specialty. I had it in mind that at the end of the day they want to make a documentary and by the time it was edited they may have changed what was said and what was done so there was added pressure on me to be one step ahead.


The crew were very sensitive to my patients and almost subservient to me. I called the shots at every point and by the end of the filming I was so used to them being with me that I almost forgot they were in the room. I was amazed at the amount of patients who actually agreed to be filmed, both men and women. Any hospital appointment is scary but having to attend a clinic to investigate the breast is a sensitive and a very private affair. Most people do not want others to know about their appointments despite all the publicity and awareness that breast cancer receives.

The process was very exhausting and time-consuming, but well worth it, especially in light of the Francis Report and the negative press about nurses in the NHS. I really did feel that this may bring back some public trust and confidence in the nursing profession. To add a personal touch the crew followed me in my private life and filmed me running around Roath Park. They realised very quickly that my sport is very much a part of who I am and that without it I would not be as effective in my professional role. They also came to the university and filmed me teaching students which they recognised as a major part of my role and very important to me.

Nikki West at Oncology Nurse of the Year Awards (right)

Nikki West at Oncology Nurse of the Year Awards (right)

The highlight of the filming was being shortlisted for the British Journal of Nursing Oncology Nurse of the Year award and having to go to London for the dinner. The crew were really keen to film me at the ceremony and met us in London. We arrived in the rain, ball gown draped over my arm and a black cab waiting for us.  We had a staged get away to the opera house and were interviewed in the cab. The crew stayed all evening and ensured we got into a taxi back to our car for the 2 hour drive home. I really did have a ball!

The crew were amazing and genuinely interested in what nurses really do. They were surprised at the amount of autonomy and expertise that exists within nursing and how care has changed. The programme is being aired on Channel 5 this autumn.

Watch this space!

DEVELOP YOUR POTENTIAL THROUGH RUNNING. Three views on how running is about more than fitness.

Exercise grows more than muscle
Dr. Katie Featherstone
Senior Lecturer
Director of Postgraduate Studies

I have been running on and off since I was a teenager and I now run for about an hour 5-6 times a week. During my PhD I ran every day and I found it really helped with improving concentration and stamina, decreasing stress and anxiety and that’s why I still run. A PhD and academic life in general requires long hours and resilience (talk to Mohammad Marie who is our in-house expert on resilience) so running every day helps. It keeps me strong, physically and mentally – I am afraid the challenges of research and the pain of drafting and re-drafting doesn’t go away- they are constants, you just learn how to manage them.

So running helps me.  It regulates my day by punctuating my pattern of work, helping me to move from email to writing and reminding me its time to have a break or stop.  It is also a good time to process the day – when you run you can’t focus on a particular issue or topic, rather ideas and thoughts float through your mind and its important to let them- but I always come back from a run with something solved,it may be small but it usually moves my thinking on a tiny bit.

Being an academic means you spend much of your working life reading and typing, sitting in offices with little natural light.  It is important to be physical and be outside getting natural light experiencing the changing weather (yes, I know it’s often rain, rain and more rain). After this long winter it feels nice to be able to finally put away my wooly running hat and waterproof jacket and experience the seasons.  One section of yesterday’s early evening run featured lilacs, followed by hot chips doused in vinegar, followed by wisteria – I couldn’t decide which was the outstanding scent of the evening.

Rosemary Williams, Dr Katie Featherstone, Sarah Fry

Rosemary Williams, Dr Katie Featherstone, Sarah Fry

I am focusing here on running, but all exercise can help you achieve your goals and be good for you in different ways.  Exercise, particularly running is an effective brain gym. It improves ‘neurogenesis’, our ability to grow neurons and stimulates the brain to develop new brain cells particularly in the hippocampus an area associated with improved learning and memory function. It increases blood flow and promotes efficient energy use to improve cognitive functions. Importantly, the benefits are also emotional, having a strong impact on mood, improving our ability to manage stress and anxiety, and working as an effective antidepressant (one review found it equivalent to cognitive behavioural therapy).  Doing a PhD is the time when you are asked to develop and grow at a really fast rate, and to stay the course you need to be physically and emotionally strong, so get out there….I promise it will help.

Running through a PhD
Sarah Fry
PhD Student

Sitting at a desk all day becoming frustrated with research data or literature reviewing?  Try running to blow away any residual tension.

For the past 4-years I have been long distance running as a full-time hobby.  I started running because it’s an accessible and fairly cheap way to keep fit.  As I entered more races and set my sights on my first marathon, London 2011, running quickly became a central part of my life.  The feeling of elation at the end of the marathon encouraged me to do more and I haven’t stopped since.

At my first PhD supervision my supervisor told me doing a PhD was like running a marathon and I think he’s right. Like a PhD, running has its ups and downs.  The downs are usually to do with the weather (rain, snow and ice) and the occasional injury but these are nothing compared to the feeling of achievement at the end of a long run and the camaraderie and support from running friends.

Running gives me space to think; my PhD proposal was refined whilst training for the Edinburgh marathon in 2012.  I am now almost 1-year into a part-time PhD and I realise that running is going to play an important role in getting me through the next 4-years.  Apart from the obvious benefits of running (physical fitness and energy) running has also taught me self-discipline, self-belief and commitment.  These are assets which I hope will get me through the PhD process in a relatively calm, constructive, and timely manner.

Have you ever thought about running and been too worried to give it a go?  If you have the commitment and motivation to take on a PhD you will find running easier than you think.

I am running 31-miles along the Thames Path on 14th September 2013 for Cancer Research UK.  Please support me with this run by visiting my justgiving page at

Notes from a new runner
Rosemary Williams
EO: Research Administration

Why do I run?  I began running on a regular basis about two years ago so I’m a comparatively ‘new’ runner.  I now aim to run three times a week interspersed with cycling.  I try to do one longer run and two short 3 mile runs.  Initially running was simply a means of improving my fitness for cycling; cycling mates assured me that it would have a positive impact on my ability to cycle up hills and mountains.  In the beginning I found it hard but within a very short time I began to feel the benefits and was surprised to find that it wasn’t just about feeling fitter physically, I also felt much stronger mentally and more alert.
One of the other benefits of running is that it gives you time to appreciate your surroundings, to enjoy the flowers, birds and other wildlife that you see whilst you’re out on a run.  I usually run either early in the morning or in the evening and I’ve found roads and trails I didn’t know existed before I started running.  What began as just something to do in order to become fitter is now a focal point of my life. The freedom, the camaraderie, the feeling of running down the street with the wind (or rain!) on my face – it’s an exhilarating experience.


Bringing research to life

I was recently awarded funding to attend a European conference exploring the experiences of teenagers and young adults with cancer. The conference took place at the world famous Curie Institute in Paris which was an added bonus (and it was so much warmer than the UK!). The event was organised by the European Network for Teenage and Young Adult Cancer (ENTYAC) and included a wide range of speakers and delegates from countries including: Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Denmark, France and the UK.

The subject matter for the conference was diverse with attention given too many different perspectives of the cancer journey. The first day was focused on the organisation of cancer services around Europe and how practitioners worked within organisations. The second day was a mixture of clinical management and the experiences of teenagers and young adults with cancer, and the final day explored some of the key issues for this age group both during and after treatment. These sessions highlighted areas such as fertility preservation, consent and ethical dilemmas.

The conference gave me the perfect oJane Paris editpportunity to meet and network with people from a number of disciplines who are leaders in this emerging field. I had discussions with philosophers, specialist and consultant nurses, haematologists, oncologists and most notably teenagers and young adults who had experienced cancer treatment. Indeed a workshop held on the second day consisted of a panel involving a patient group which revealed a great deal of information, particularly relating to my own area of research interest, decision making. The young people talked about the different types of decisions that they had to make, how this was sometimes difficult and how at times they felt either isolated or over protected by their families when making decisions. I was also struck by one young person’s account of the secrecy that surrounded her initial diagnosis, with her parents not wanting to reveal what was happening in the very early stages as she arrived at the hospital for a discussion with the medical team.

My other notable memory is of how keen people were to help me develop my research. They happily gave me their contact numbers and one of the young adults offered to help me develop my interview questions which was, I felt, really really encouraging. I plan to work with him in the near future as I develop the study and am really looking forward to spending some time talking with him about his experience.

I would really recommend that students apply for funding to attend such events. It is beneficial in terms of learning new knowledge, networking and helping further refine your own study. I also got half a day free due to flight times and went along to the Louvre for a look around which is where the picture was taken!

Jane Davies