All posts by Felicia Black

Digital Economy CDT Network Manager

Exploring digital space, place and identity

On 5 September 2019, the Digital Economy Network and the Horizon Centre for Doctoral Training delivered a one-day postdoctoral workshop on (Digital) Space, Place and Identity in Multidisciplinary Research.

Led by Horizon CDT and Mixed Reality Lab Postgraduate Researchers Harriet Cameron, Luke Skarth-Hayley, Velvet Spors and Hanne Wagner, the event was held in the Horizon CDT training space at the University of Nottingham’s Jubilee Campus.

This pilot workshop seeked to investigate the concepts of “space”, “place” and “identity” and explore how they are being defined, used, contested and reappropriated through digital technology.

Two key questions were discussed during the day:

1. How can we critique existing technologies and their effects on identity/space/place – especially if they introduce or reproduce uneven power relationships?
2. How can we investigate new technologies and their paradigms while being conscious of the status quo?

PhD students and postdoc researchers from the University of Nottingham, University of Southampton, Queen Mary University of London and Loughborough University London participated in the one-day interactive session.

Further details of the outcomes of this pilot workshop will be disseminated shortly.

DEN Annual Meeting 2019 held in London

On Monday 25 February, the Digital Economy Network (DEN) held it’s fifth annual meeting for staff and students from across the 11 Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) that make up the Network.

The meeting was held in the Wellcome Collection venue on Euston Road in London.

Around 50 delegates were in attendance, ranging from CDT Directors, Managers, Adminstrators, PhD/EngD students, CDT alumni, EPSRC colleagues and guest speakers. Colleagues were in attendance from the University of Nottingham, Lancaster University, Queen Mary University of London, Newcastle University, University College London, University of Southampton, Loughborough University, University of York, Bournemouth University and the University of Bath.

During the morning session, presentation updates were provided from:

  • Professor Sarah Sharples, DEN Director – University of Nottingham
  • Jennifer Agwunobi – DEN Social Media Specialist and PhD Student at Loughborough University London
  • Felicia Black – DEN Manager, University of Nottingham
  • Riam Kanso – Head of Student Entrepreneurship (Faculty of Engineering), University College London
  • John Baird – Head of Digital Economy Theme – EPSRC

Initial information about the Digital Economy Summer School 2019 – which will be the Interdisciplinary Digital Culture and Society Conference (DISCo 2019) was also given to delegates.

After a buffet lunch, afternoon discussions were held in groups to discuss the benefits, outcomes and potential impact of DEN events that had been delivered so far, suggestions on how the Network could remain sustainable, and ways that skills, knowledge and CDT alumni career destinations could be shared more effectively across the DEN community.

Ideas and plans for the remaining months of the Network were also tabled and discussed. The Network funding ends on 30 September 2019.

A DEN CDT Directors Meeting was held immediately after the main event.

DEN would like to thank all attendees of this event for their valued support and input.

Windsor Park venue provides writing productivity


26 PhD/EngD Students attended the facilitated DEN Writing Retreat at Cumberland Lodge in Great Windsor Park, which ran over 2 days; Tuesday 5 and Wednesday 6 February.

Doctoral research students from the following CDTs and universities were in attendance:

  • Centre for Digital Entertainment – University of Bath and Bournemouth University
  • Digital Civics CDT – Newcastle University
  • Financial Computing CDT – University College London
  • HighWire CDT – University of Lancaster
  • Horizon CDT – University of Nottingham
  • Intelligent Games and Game Intelligence (IGGI) CDT – Goldsmiths University
  • Loughborough University London
  • Media and Arts Technology CDT – Queen Mary University of London
  • Web Science CDT – University of Southampton

These writing retreats provide PhD/EngD students with a time structured two day programme to focus on research writing or other PhD work in a dedicated environment. Students who are currently writing up their thesis find these events particularly valuable.

Projects that students were working on at this retreat included thesis chapters, interview transcription, journal papers, literature reviews and coding projects.

This retreat was held immediately after the recent 21-Day online DEN Writing Challenge, which ran during January and February, where students within the Network took on the challenge of writing 500 words per day over 21 days, and shared progress and experiences with the DEN Community over Social Media. You can catch up with this via the hashtag #DENWritingChallenge.

Increasing research writing productivity at Beamish Hall

PhD students from across multiple EPSRC-supported Digital Economy Centres for Doctoral Training and relevant research groups recently benefited from a two-day residential facilitated writing retreat, which was held at Beamish Hall in County Durham on 27-28 November 2018.

The aim of the residential retreat, which was attended by 28 PhD students from across 10 Universities, was to create a positive, quiet and productive environment in order to maximise writing productivity via eight time-facilitated sessions over the two days.

When registering for the event, attendees were required to specify what they would be using the retreat for, and they also discussed their short, medium and longer term writing goals in pairs at the start of Day One.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 47577687_1893927440706246_4453601165753450496_n.jpg

PhD students at various stages of their programmes, from across the following nine EPSRC-supported Digital Economy Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs)/relevant research groups benefited from this event:

  • Cloud Computing for Big Data (Newcastle University)
  • Digital Civics (Newcastle University)
  • Embedded Intelligence (Loughborough University)
  • Healthcare Innovation (University of Oxford)
  • HighWire (Lancaster University)
  • IGGI: Intelligent Games and Game Intelligence (Goldsmiths)
  • Media and Arts Technology (Queen Mary University of London)
  • Web Science (University of Southampton)
  • The Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Loughborough University London)

Above: The Beamish Hall venue, County Durham

The majority of PhD students present were concentrating on writing or editing their thesis, although other writing goals included drafting conference papers or journal articles, literature reviews, preparing for an annual review and coding.

Student feedback included the following:

“During this writing retreat I wrote an abstract for a conference. The DEN retreat helps create an ideal environment for producing quality writing material” (PhD Student – 2016 cohort, Embedded Intelligence CDT, Loughborough University)

“I set a challenge of writing the introduction to my thesis over the first day. The writing sessions helped me to focus on the goals and made the writing more manageable. I was able to achieve my goal of writing my introduction” (PhD Student – 2015 cohort), Digital Civics CDT, Newcastle University)

The feedback from the PhD student attendees indicated that they  also specifically valued the opportunity to talk and network with peers over the breaks and dinner, share common research interests and expertise, as well as providing and receiving advice. This retreat provided an opportunity to meet with other CDT students they may not have necessarily have met, would it not been for an event such as this.

#DENWritingRetreat       #WriteDEN

Join the DEN mailing list to stay in the loop

We are aware that the Digital Economy Network (DEN) PhD Student community is ever changing, with new CDT students joining the EPSRC-supported Centres to embark on their PhD journey, as well as graduates and alumni moving on to their postdoc career destinations.

DEN keeps your CDT Managers and Administrators informed on all the Network’s relevant events and activities that are taking place that will be beneficial and of interest to you, but new doctoral students can also join the DEN mailing list via the sign up form below, so that you can also be informed directly of any DEN opportunities.  You can also choose to unsubscribe from the list at any time.

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CDT students benefit from DEN Writing Retreat

On 11-12 June 2018, 25 CDT students from across the Digital Economy Network attended a two-day facilitated doctoral writing retreat at Wyresdale Park, in Scorton.

PhD student attendees had the choice of staying in local overnight accommodation at Wyresdale Hall, glamping belltents or the nearby Priory at Scorton for two nights, so that they could participate in the retreat at the Apple Store Cafe, which was booked exclusively for the retreat so as to prevent interruptions. Some students also attended as day delegates.

As the sun was also out in Lancashire, delegates could also benefit from using the beautiful and peaceful gardens to focus on a PhD writing project of their choice.



PhD students attended from the following DEN CDTs:

  • Cloud Computing for Big Data (Newcastle)
  • Digital Civics (Newcastle)
  • Embedded Intelligence (Loughborough and Heriot Watt Universities)
  • HighWire (Lancaster)
  • Horizon My Life in Data (Nottingham)
  • Intelligent Games and Game Intelligence (Goldsmiths)
  • Media and Arts Technology (Queen Mary)
  • Web Science CDT (Southampton).

DEN has plans to deliver a further two writing retreats during 2018/19 and details will be announced on the DEN website as soon as booking information is available.

Thrumpton Hall Writing Retreat, 23-25 April 2018

The Digital Economy Network (DEN) hosted their second PhD writing retreat of 2018 at the idyllic setting of Thrumpton Hall; a spectacular 17th century English country house, set in the village of Thrumpton near Nottingham. PhD students from across seven EPSRC-funded Digital Economy Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) signed up for this event to have the opportunity to focus on research writing or associated work relating to their doctoral study.

18 CDT students from the Network’s Cloud Computing, Embedded Intelligence, Horizon, HighWire, Media & Arts Technology, and Web Science CDTs attended the two-day retreat.

The retreat, which facilitated by Andy Darby of Lancaster University, is a structured programme which aims to establish a highly productive and healthy relationship with writing over the two days. Each day is broken down into four writing sessions of either an hour or ninety minutes, with set break times, including an hour slot for lunch to allow people to move away from their work, talk with other CDT students from across the Network, have food and refreshments and to take walks in the surrounding gardens and parkland.

Above: The gardens of Thrumpton Hall

Attendees paired up at the start of day one and discussed with each other their specific writing objectives for the event, and then individuals evaluated their progress against their set goals at key points during the retreat.

CDT students used the retreat to work on various tasks including thesis chapters, literature reviews, interview transcription, data analysis, coding, journal submissions, conference papers, blogs and annual review reports.

The majority of the 18 students who attended, also enjoyed an evening meal in the Hall’s impressive and grandiose dining room and stayed overnight in the country house, and were extremely well looked after by the Thrumpton events staff. DEN had exclusive use of the Hall and various rooms for the duration of the event, which provided ideal conditions for people to focus on their work, and base themselves in different rooms across the two days.

Above: CDT students at evening meal in Thrumpton Hall dining room

Cat Morgan, PhD Student at the Web Science CDT at the University of Southampton wrote a blog article entitled ‘To writing retreat or not to writing retreat’ about her experience of the event.

The next two-day retreat will be held on 15-16 May 2018 at Elmore Court in Gloucester.

Thanks and acknowledgements:

DEN would like to thank Andy Darby of Lancaster University for facilitating the retreat, and providing writing coaching and advice to the individual delegates who required this. Thanks also to Paula, Lynn, Nancy and the other staff at Thrumpton Hall for doing such a great job of looking after us during our stay.  Thanks to all the CDT students who attended and I hope you made the progress you aimed for.



Digital Economy Diversity Network meets in Nottingham

The third Digital Economy Network Meeting took place on Friday 23 March 2018 in Nottingham, and was hosted by the EPSRC Horizon CDT in My Life in Data.

CDT and PhD students from Newcastle University, University of Southampton, University of Nottingham and Loughborough University London met at the University of Nottingham’s Jubilee Conference Centre to discuss diversity and accessibility issues around the meeting theme ‘Access and Accessibility: The breaking down of barriers’.

After a pre-meeting evening networking meal at Las Iguana Restaurant in Nottingham City Centre (group photo below) on Thursday 22 March, CDT students from across four institutions met on the Friday to discuss, share experiences and make policy recommendations for the following:

  • Access and accessibility for postgraduate research (PGR) students.
  • Paid sickness leave policies for PGR students.
  • Mental health support provision for PhD students.
  • Support options for PGR students who have child care responsibilities for travel to research conferences and events.
  • Formalisation of a Digital Economy Network (DEN) Code of Conduct for DEN meetings and events.

DEDN Group Meal 22.03.18
Above: Pre-meeting cross-CDT student networking meal in Las Iguanas Nottingham

After lunch, Chad Gowler, a Masters student at the University of York gave a talk to attendees on the subject of Accessibility on the Web.

Unicorn Art 2 23.03.18
Above: Carrying on the Unicorn theme:  Made by the daughter of Horizon CDT student, Abi Fowler, for the Nottingham meeting.

Peak District PhD retreat held

The Digital Economy Network held it’s fifth two-day writing retreat on 7-8 March at the New Bath Hotel in Matlock Bath, located on the edge of the Peak District.

35 CDT and PhD students from across nine EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) and University digital economy research groups attended the fully-subscribed residential event, which was held on the edge of the Peak District.

Although in a scenic setting, the Derbyshire-based venue was very easily accessible by train, with Matlock Bath train station being less than 1 mile away.  PhD students travelled from as far as Newcastle and Southampton to attend the retreat.

Writing retreat in Ballroom

Delegates used the retreat programme to focus on a variety of research writing priorities including thesis corrections, draft journal papers, Researchfish submissions and conference papers.

PhD students from the following nine EPSRC CDTs attended:

  • Cloud Computing CDT – Newcastle University
  • Digital Civics CDT – Newcastle University
  • Embedded Intelligence CDT – Loughborough University
  • Financial Computing CDT – University College London
  • Healthcare Innovation – University of Oxford
  • HighWire CDT – Lancaster University
  • Horizon CDT – University of Nottingham
  • Media & Arts Technology CDT – Queen Mary University of London
  • Web Science CDT – University of Southampton.

The Network will host it’s next two-day writing retreat at Thrumpton Hall in Nottingham on 24-25 April 2018, with two further retreats planned for May and June.


DEN holds two-day annual event at Digital Catapult

The Digital Economy Network (DEN) held a two day event at the Digital Catapult Centre in London on 1-2 February 2018 , which over 75 CDT staff, students, alumni and Network collaborators attended.

Over the two days, over 75 doctoral students and staff from the DEN member Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs), along with representatives from the EPSRC and Digital Catapult, participated in the following programme of activities:

  • The one -day DEN Annual Meeting for CDT staff, students, key collaborators and the EPSRC as funders of the Network.
  • DEN CDT Directors Meeting to discuss current and future collaborations, and relevant EPSRC calls.
  • A CDT table-top showcase where delegates could experience a flavour of the multidisciplinary research that is taking place within the DEN EPSRC-funded CDTs.
  • An evening networking reception, which commenced with three short talks by CDT students from three different Centres for Doctoral Training across the Network.
  • A one-day CDT Careers Symposium featuring talks from CDT alumni who had progressed to positions in academia, industry or had founded/co-founded their own start-ups.







DEN Annual Meeting Presentations:

  • At the start of Day 1 Professor Sarah Sharples delivered a  DEN update presentation to delegates on recent events and activities that had been initiated and supported by the Network.
  • John Baird, Research Councils UK Digital Economy Theme Lead at the EPSRC delivered a  theme update to attendees.
  • Mike Board, Project Manager at the Centre for Digital Entertainment at Bournemouth University, outlined the initial plans for the DE Summer School 2018, which will take place on 1-3 July in Poole, Dorset.
  • Rosie Bellini, Janis Meissner, Cat Morgan, Sean Peacock and Angelika Strohmayer, CDT Students gave an update on the  Digital Economy Diversity Network meetings that had been held so far, hosted by the Digital Civics CDT at Newcastle University, and the Web Science CDT at the University of Southampton.

CDT Student Networking Evening Presentations:

DEN CDT Careers Symposium (2 Feb 2018) Presentations:

  • Dr Catarina Fernandes, Academic Engagement Manager, Digital Catapult Centre –Academic Engagement Digital Catapult
  • Justin Larner, Lancaster University, Revealing the Mill Race (HighWire DTC alumni)
  • Dr Chris Carter, University of Nottingham (Horizon DTC alumnus)
  • Dr John Harvey, University of Nottingham (Horizon DTC alumnus)
  • Dr Emily Webber, Head of Insights, Bionical , From PhD to the Insight Lab  (Horizon DTC alumna)
  • Joe Lyscke, Co-Founder & CEO, MMX Music (QMUL alumnus)
  • Dr Paula Parpart ,Founder, (UCL alumna)
  • Christian Butterworth, Highwire DTC, Lancaster University
  • Daniel Kershaw, Elsevier (Highwire DTC alumnus).