Annual PGR Conference

Our students design and run their own national postgraduate conference

Each year, a committee of current students are invited to design and deliver a major national postgraduate research conference.

Roots and Reach!

Our 12th Annual Postgraduate Research Conference was held on 4th March 2020. Designed, organised and delivered by our student committee with support from the Graduate School, the event was a great success welcoming research students from Universities across the country to share their work.

The conference theme, Roots and Reach, was designed to bring together PGRs from all backgrounds, celebrating the diversity and uniqueness of each research journey, from its original roots to its ultimate reach.

All of our research is unique, and we have all been inspired and motivated in some shape or form to pursue, grow and shape our projects. We want to hear about your journey, from its roots to where you ultimately want it to reach, which we feel encompasses all stages of a project. This can be anything from our underlying motivations, the methods underpinning our work, our personal or professional development, the challenges we have faced to our ultimate aims and goals.

Programme and brochure

The event programme and brochure were designed by research student Sarah Walker with the goal of reducing the amount of paper and single-use materials utilised at the event. The single-page paper programme gives an overview of the day with a QR code to link to the full online brochure with all the abstracts, bios, and extra information about the presenters and exciting keynotes.

PGR Conference 2020 Programme

PGR Conference 2020 Full Online Brochure

Keynote speakers

Paul Dobraszczyk

Paul is a researcher and writer based in Manchester, UK, and a teaching fellow at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London. He is currently completing a book Anarchist Architecture to be published by Reaktion in 2022 and also an edited collection Manchester: Something Rich & Strange (Manchester University Press, 2021). He is the author of Future Cities, Architecture & the Imagination (Reaktion, 2019); The Dead City: Urban Ruins & the Spectacle of Decay (IB Tauris, 2017); London’s Sewers (Shire, 2014); Iron, Ornament & Architecture in Victorian Britain (Ashgate, 2014); and Into the Belly of the Beast: Exploring London’s Victorian Sewers (Spire, 2009); and co-editor of Global Undergrounds: Exploring Cities Within (Reaktion, 2016); and Function & Fantasy: Iron Architecture in Long Nineteenth Century (Routledge, 2016);

Paul’s writing research interests broadly cover visual culture and the built environment from the 19th century onwards, with particular interests in Manchester, urban futures, underground spaces and ruins, print culture, and industrial architecture. He has published many articles on such diverse topics as ornament and iron, the ruins of Chernobyl, neo-Victorian horror cinema, gardening catalogues, census forms, London guidebooks, sewage pumping stations and information for cab passengers. He is also a visual artist and photographer.

For more information on Paul please head to



Rob Drummond

Rob is a linguist based in Manchester (UK) involved primarily in sociolinguistic variation (especially at the level of sound), urban adolescent speech, dialects, linguistic ethnography, and identity. He is Head of Youth Language at the Manchester Centre for Youth Studies, and a Reader in the Department of Languages at Manchester Metropolitan University.

In 2019, Rob was awarded an AHRC grant to continue work on Manchester Voices – a series of studies exploring the accents, dialects and identities of people in Greater Manchester. This is a 3-year project.

In 2014 Rob was awarded a Leverhulme Trust project grant for a project entitled Expressing inner city youth identity through Multicultural Urban British English. The project is now known as the UrBEn-ID project; UrBEn stands for Urban British English, reflecting the project’s aim to investigate ways in which young people in an urban environment use language in the construction, negotiation and performance of their identities.

For more information on Rob please head to



The conference is organised by current Manchester Met postgraduate researchers.


This year's committee includes:

Zoe Siobhan Bibbon

Zoe is a second year PhD student in linguistics in the department of Languages, Information and Communications. Her thesis project is entitled The Language of Menstruation. Zoe joined our committee as Academic Lead and her responsibilities include organising and managing the day's presenters and keynote speakers. She is most excited about the prospect of meeting and connecting with other postgraduates and is looking forward to seeing an interesting and diverse range of research.

Freya Ernsting

Freya is a current part-time doctoral student in the Department of Languages, Information and Communication at Manchester Metropolitan University, investigating the identity formulation of smartphone users amongst young adults. In particular, taking a grounded theory approach, Freya is exploring the embodiment and interactions between the user and device, and how these are experienced and perceived. In addition, Freya is interested in the broader relationship between technological development and society, alongside death and the digital. After chairing the committee of a successful faculty based symposium, Freya is chairing the committee for the 2020 annual PGR conference.

George Hurst

George is a third-year PhD student in the Department of Engineering exploring renewable energy and biorefineries. George is investigating the integration of anaerobic digestion into catalyst based biorefineries to produce renewable chemicals. His multidisciplinary research seeks to lower the costs of renewable biochemicals and create a low carbon future. As the volunteer coordinator George is responsible for the organisation of volunteers on the conference day. Volunteers are a vital part of the PGR conference and George will recruit, guide and organise volunteers before and during the conference. If you are interested in volunteering in being a judge, chair or helper on the day, please contact him at

Matthew Hutchinson

Matthew is a PhD student assessing football fans in both the UK and US, trying to understand how they become fans of teams they support. He has been a student at Manchester Met for one year, whilst also teaching undergraduate sports marketing students. Matthew decided to join the committee to get experience in delivering and organising a conference, whilst also gaining a wider appreciation for other fields. As an Event Manager, he feels excited to have the chance to speak to students across the University and expand his network.

Magda Marchowska-Raza

Magda is embarking the second year of her PhD researching consumer engagement within cosmetics' social media brand communities. She joined the conference committee to experience first-hand nitty-gritty of organising a conference. She is excited to expand her marketing knowledge as a Marketing and Communications Lead. Magda is also looking forward to meeting and connecting with fellow PhD students and academics.

David Mee

Dave is in the first year of a part-time research programme in the Department of Media at the School of Art at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research is concerned with establishing what aspects of media content are most effective in persuasiveness in online communities, and whether these attributes can be useful in developing machine learning models and data analytic tools to determine malicious actions in digital discursive spaces. As part of the 12th PGR Conference Committee, Dave is leading the technical aspects, ensuring the conference runs smoothly and the right cables are in place to ensuring there is a solid digital organisation and publishing system in place. "This is my first conference and I'm keen to get a better idea of the operational aspects of one, as much as to see a wide range of disciplines come together to share their work and see how they move from kernels of ideas to a collective canopy of knowledge!"

Sarah Walker

Trained as a designer and artist, Sarah is researching how creative participatory practices can foster sustainable action to protect and enhance urban greenspaces in Manchester and Leeds. She has a particular interest in collaborative action and co-design projects within organisations focused on public engagement and community building. As an Artistic Director and Brochure Lead, Sarah is responsible for creating all the visual elements.

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