Start main page content

Wits-Sheffield Newton PhD Programme

In 2016 the ESCR and NRF funded Newton PhD training programme, entitled "Developing Research Capacity for Inclusive Urban Governance: A Sheffield-Witwatersrand PhD Training Partnership", was established between Wits University and the University of Sheffield.

The PhD exchange programme is coordinated by Claire Bénit-Gbaffou from the Wits School of Architecture & Planning and Glyn Williams from the Sheffield Department of Urban Studies & Planning. It is funded by Research Councils UK, the Newton Fund (UK) and the National Research Foundation (South Africa) and runs from 2016 to 2018. Read an article about the programme written by Glyn Williams on the Urban Transformations blog here

The training programme includes a Spring School at the University of Sheffield and a Summer School at Wits University each year. To date the following have been held:

  • Sheffield PhD School (April 2016)
  • Wits PhD Summer School on “The Politics of Research” (November 2016)
  • Sheffield PhD Spring School on "Demystifying Qualitative Analysis" (May-June 2017)
  • Wits PhD Summer School on "The Politics and Practicalities of Writing" (November-December 2017)
  • Sheffield PhD Spring School on "Dealing with Moral Dilemmas in Research" (May-June 2018)

See below for more information on these events.

Sheffield PhD Spring School on "Dealing with Moral Dilemmas in Research" (Sheffield, 30 April - 11 May 2018)

From 30 April to 11 May 2018 the Sheffield PhD Spring School was held at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, University of Sheffield. The theme of this year's programme was "Dealing with Moral Dilemmas in Research". Seven PhD students affiliated with the School of Architecture and Planning at Wits attended the workshop, and also presented papers at the 9th Annual Sheffield Institute for International Development (SIID) Postgraduate Conference held on 8 and 9 May 2018.

Wits PhD Summer School on "The Politics and Practicalities of Writing" (Johannesburg, 27 November - 6 December 2017)

From 27 November to 6 December 2017, the School of Architecture and Planning at Wits hosted the second Wits-Sheffield PhD Summer School. This year the theme of the School was on "The Politics and Practicalities of Writing" and it was coordinated by Claire Bénit-Gbaffou and Sarah Charlton from Wits, and Glyn Williams from the University of Sheffield. For a week and a half, ten PhD students from the University of Sheffield and 11 Wits students participated in a programme that included a guest lecture by Pamela Nichols (Director of the Wits Writing Centre), a workshop on the process of writing for different audiences (which included a presentation of case studies by a number of Wits academics and researchers) and an interactive workshop on the practicalities of writing a PhD. 

On 1 December 2017 a PhD colloquium on the theme “Bringing different voices in one’s writing” was held at Wits. For the colloquium each student prepared a reflection beforehand on an issue related to their writing, and at the colloquium each student presented another person's reflection to the group. The reflections touched on a number of cross-cutting themes, including: writing one’s positionality; writing about sensitive issues; writing on/with emotions and the self, and playing with academic conventions; finding one’s academic voice in scholarly debates; writing one’s fieldwork and interweaving voices; straddling multiple languages in one’s writing; and writing with others - reflecting on knowledge coproduction. The last two days of the Summer School programme consisted of a writing workshop, in which students chose a piece of writing to focus on and in which senior academics or peers where available for discussion and engagement where needed. Download the Wits PhD Summer School schedule.

PhD Colloquium

Sheffield-Wits group


PhD Spring School on "Demystifying Qualitative Analysis" (Sheffield, 25 May - 6 June 2017)

From 25 May to 6 June 2017, eight PhD students in the Practices of the State in Urban Governance (PSUG) programme attended a two week training exchange at the University of Sheffield, together with a number of Sheffield PhD students. The topic of the programme was "Demystifying Qualitative Analysis", and the exchange began with a two day colloquium focused on qualitative analysis processes and approaches. Under three themes - 1) data reduction/data condensation, 2) data display and 3) conclusion drawing/validation - a number of researchers from the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and other departments presented case studies of their own experiences conducting qualitative research and analysis. Group discussions on how to improve practice and overcome challenges of qualitative research were then held with the various speakers and participants.

Over the following week, a number of in-depth practical sessions on the three themes were held, covering a number of issues including: designing for data collection and analysis; making sense of data; organising and displaying data; and testing, validating and disseminating data. The final days of the programme were spent writing (individually and collectively) and sharing with the group. Download the workshop programme here: Sheffield programme 2017.


Wits PhD Summer School on "The Politics of Research" (Johannesburg, 21 November - 1 December 2016)

Fro 21 November to 1 December 2016 eight urban planning and international development PhD students from the University of Sheffield (together with School of Architecture & Planning PhD students) participated in a two-week workshop hosted by the School on the theme “The Politics of Research”. The workshop formed part of the Sheffield-Wits Newtown PhD training programme, which runs from 2016 to 2018. 

The PhD Summer School consisted of the following events:

  • Symposium focused on pedagogical issues in PhD teaching and mentoring on the politics of research (download the programme here).
  • Two-day panel discussion on the politics of research, where scholars and researchers engaged in writing about politics and policies discussed their experiences in navigating the tensions or conflicts that arise from having different audiences, accountabilities, belongings etc (download the programme here).
  • Session on the politics of writing publically as scholars and academics about #FeesMustFall, reflecting more broadly on how one unpacks the politics of a public text from the outside (download the programme here).
  • PhD colloquium where participant reflections on the politics of their research were discussed, and key themes and debates synthesised (download the programme here).
  • Two-day writing workshop with the aim to contribute towards the methodology section/chapter of proposal/thesis (particularly where expected or experienced ethical/political issues are discussed).
  • Discussion on key readings around the following themes: insider-outsider; trust and deception in fieldwork; and accountability/feedback/impact (download the programme here).


PhD Research Exchange (Sheffield, April 2016)

For two weeks in April 2016 four PSUG PhD students - Boitumelo Matlala, Mamokete Matjomane, Darlington Mushongera and Kate Tissington - were hosted by the Department of Urban Studies & Planning at the University of Sheffield as part of the Newtwon PhD training programme. The students presented their research projects at the Sheffield Institute for International Development (SIID) 7th Annual Postgraduate Conference from 7-8 April (see programme here), engaged with PhD students in the department about their projects, and attended a PhD training workshop. Read more about the exchange here.

PSUG PhD students in Sheffield