You’ve got to have a plan!

Planning Your Studies
Planning Your Studies

By Kopano Mokoena

On Thursday 7th March a large group of postgraduates congregated in Barratt 2 to plan their studies and figure out how to get the most from their postgraduate journey. The seminar “Planning your studies and Managing your supervisor”, focused on a few issues pertaining/relevant to postgraduate scholars studies, supervision interactions and how to effectively manage both.

The director of Rhodes University’s Centre for Postgraduate Studies (CPGS), Prof. Sioux McKenna highlighted the differences and expectations of each postgraduate level as per national definitions, and the research hours one should spend at each NQF level. She argued that developing and maintaining a positive and academically beneficial relationship with your supervisor was central and provided a list of the kinds of questions every postgraduate scholar should be asking their supervisor. Understanding and working towards a positive academic relationship with your supervisor, but also being aware of your role as a scholar and expectations of you and the work you produce, was one of the key messages of the seminar.

Sioux also highlighted the need to “embrace the idea that you’re an intellectual” and develop intellectual independence in knowledge production. She emphasised the need to constantly and effectively engage and participate with communities and to look at the literature in your field as a conversation between knowledge-producers – a conversation in which postgraduate scholars are now active participants.

Involving oneself in the many programmes offered by CPGS such as Writing Circles, short courses and writing retreats can be a stepping stone to developing a holistic and balanced academic year and can provide a support community. She also placed emphasis on the need to write-as-you-read, to ensure the development of ‘writing muscles’ and recording of your research project.

Students engaged with each other and brought up suggestions of ways to enhance project management and supervisor engagement, minimise distractions, diarise events, tasks and deliverables using different apps and software tools such as Siteblocker, ColdTurkey Google Calendar, and Evernote, which will be useful in instilling discipline and better time management.

This seminar gave scholars insight to self-development, project planning, time management and academic social development, which could be quite useful for new and old postgraduate students.

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