Sgoil Cheumnaichean Saidheans Sòisealta na h-Alba

Summer School 2020

The SGSSS Summer School 2020 will take place between Tuesday the 9th and Thursday the 11th of June. Please keep an eye on our webpages for more information.

Welcome to Summer School 2019!

Thank you to everyone who has booked in to attend our 2019 Summer School. 3 day and full day ticket sales have now concluded. We still have limited spaces on a number of workshops that are available to book in on an individual basis. Please see below for workshop information. Individual workshop tickets are priced at £15 and are available until 4pm, Friday June 7.

Please note: we can no longer offer accommodation for these individual tickets.

Who can attend Summer School?

All social science PhD students who are studying at one of our partner institutions are eligible to attend the SGSSS Summer School. Places are available on a first-come first-served basis. You can find the list of our partner institutions here. If you do not attend one of our partner institutions, please contact for further information.


Where will Summer School 2019 be held?

Summer School is hosted in June each year at The University of Edinburgh. For 2019, the SGSSS has decided to hold the Summer School in a professional conference setting and the majority of workshops will be taking place in the John McIntyre Conference Centre (JMCC), located at the Pollock Halls.


What is Summer School like?

Summer School is a 3-day event spanning academic workshops, opportunities for networking, creating a focus on well-being and enjoying social events with peers. It presents a fantastic opportunity to meet with other students and build on those connections.  


Is attendance at Summer School compulsory?

Attendance at Summer School is not yet compulsory however; it has proven hugely valuable in delivering niche, advanced training workshops and for bringing different cohorts of students together. This is the annual ‘jewel in the crown’ event for all social science PhD students in Scotland.


Do I have to attend all 3 days?

While it would be advisable to attend all 3 days to benefit from the extensive range of workshops available, students will be able to select single day ticket options.   


Will accommodation be available?

Yes, single en-suite rooms have been reserved for students at Holland House (located near the JMCC within Pollock Halls). Rooms are reserved on a first come-first served basis.


Am I eligible for accommodation?

If your home institution is 30+ miles from the JMCC, you will be entitled to register for accommodation.


Can I park at Pollock Halls?

Residents at Pollock Halls should not bring cars with them. Due to limited space at Pollock, the only parking places available are for those who are registered disabled – those with “blue-badge” status. If you have any queries, please contact


What will be the evening entertainment?

On the first early evening of Summer School (Tuesday 11th), there will be a welcome drinks reception in the JMCC bar. The bar is for the exclusive use of Summer School students and attendees are encouraged to come along, relax after the first day of workshops and have fun mingling!


If you would like to try something a bit different, the SGSSS Associate Director of Student Experience, Emmanuelle Tulle, will be leading an early evening walk up Arthur’s Seat (right next door to the JMCC). Please note, Emmanuelle is not a licenced walking guide and students who wish to take part do so at their own risk.

On Wednesday 12th June, there will be a pub quiz and food/drinks at the stylish Salisbury Arms (a few minutes’ walk from the JMCC). The pub quiz is always a great time, (as well as a little competitive!) Prizes will be up for grabs so make sure to be there from 6pm.


Will I receive a certificate of attendance?

Due to the number of students attending a wide range of workshops, it will not be possible to provide attendance certificates for individuals.


Can I claim travel expenses?

If your home institution is 30+ miles from the JMCC, you will be able to make a claim for reasonable travel expenses. Students are asked to use the most economical form of public transport.

Taxis will not be reimbursed unless there are exceptional circumstances. If a taxi is required, please contact prior to travelling so approval can be provided. *It may not be possible to reimburse taxi fares if no prior agreement was sought with SGSSS*


All claims must be made through GradHub. Please retain receipts for proof of purchase.

All claims must be submitted no later than 2 weeks after the end of Summer School. Claims received after this may not be possible to reimburse.


When will I receive pre-arrival information for Summer School?

Students will receive a pre-arrival information pack the week before Summer School. This will include details on accommodation, local transport and the surrounding areas.

Tuesday AM
Life history research – how history shapes lives

Can we use life history interviews to document social and historical change? In this session, we will explore the proposition that life history interviews can give us access to more than individual biographies. They have the potential to reveal how lives (and bodies) are shaped and often challenged in their collision with external events. How people manage these encounters enable us to understand their lives historically, i.e. over a longer range that exceeds the life itself. Thus, life history interviews are truly interdisciplinary and can help us document the potential for change or stasis. The session will rely on real life research to illustrate the promise of life history interviewing. Attenders are also welcome to bring examples from their own research which could form the basis for discussion, analysis and reflexion. If you would like to bring your own examples, please get in touch with Emmanuelle in advance at to discuss how we could invite others to engage with your work.

Expecting the (un)expected: keeping safe in the field

For many postgraduates, their dissertation provides one of the first opportunities to manage a project for the first time, and may be one of the first times they are involved in primary data collection. While we are given formal teaching on theoretical and methodological aspects of research, there is relatively little teaching time dedicated to what happens when we are ‘doing’ fieldwork.

This session looks at what happens after we are given ethical approval to conduct our research, and how we manage situations that we aren’t expecting. We consider the responsibilities of the University, Supervisor, and the researcher in keeping safe. The session will focus on physical and mental health safety, and will explore both ‘in the field’ and ‘after the field’ examples. Through group discussions, and participatory examples, we will work towards developing a safer research toolkit that could be applied to your own work.

This session is led by Dr Jo Neary,a qualitative researcher with experience in conducting research focused on the impact of social policies on health and wellbeing in deprived areas of Scotland. She has led similar sessions for University of Glasgow, Leeds, and for the British Sociological Association.

Wednesday AM
Statistical Network Analysis with R

While classical statistical methods focus on the relationships between variables across individuals, network analysis looks at connections or relationships between observations. For example, if you wanted to model “follows” between accounts on Twitter or friendships on Facebook, you need network analysis; if you wanted to model the connections between corporations, network analysis again; as for wars between countries, you guessed it – network analysis. Anytime you are interested in relationships, connections, dependencies between individuals or actors, traditional methods, which work on the assumptions of conditional independence, won’t cut it. So we turn to statistical analysis of networks. This session will motivate the ideas behind these methods and introduce the summary statistics and models that correspond to those in regular statistics using packages in the statistical software language R. A number of fun examples will allow participants to build and explore networks themselves.

Wednesday PM
The use of poetry by social scientists and in social science

This session will take a workshop format to do three things: i) to explore poetry as a way of gathering data and how such data contrast with interview and observational data;ii) to discuss the use of poetry as an analysis method, using the method of narrative poetry or found poetry to convey points through poetic delivery; iii) to examine how poems sit alongside other forms of social science writing, taking the work of Ann Oakley as an example of a social scientist experimenting with different ways of communicating ideas. The session will consider issues of reflexivity and meaning throughout and connections will be made to the wider literature on poetry in social science.

The session will be run by Dr Maggie Laidlaw, Dr Duduzile Ndlovu and Professor Graham Crow.

Realising the talents of Human and Artificial Intelligence

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are increasingly giving machines the ability to perform tasks traditionally performed by humans. However, consideration of the different capabilities of humans and machines leads to the view that, for a range of scenarios, human-AI teams could provide optimal performance. In this course we will first review recent developments in AI that have been driving advances and discuss inherent technical limitations. Next, we will explore social issues including how the concept of trust plays a role in the performance of human-AI teams. Finally, we will examine case studies from our collaboration with the company Qumodo of ways in which AI can be used to advance image-based forensic investigations.

Thursday AM
Business Booster: Engaging with Industry

A training programme designed for social science PhD students to build skills and confidence for working with and engaging industry.

We will define and think how you can develop skills and expertise you can offer to companies in this workshop, run by Edinburgh Innovations, the commercialisation team for the University of Edinburgh.


  • Get an overview of business needs and challenges which academia can support
  • Scope potential companies or sectors of industry that might be interested in you
  • Practice communicating your research, knowledge efficiently and effectively to the business world, for job interviews, professional social media and seeking commercial research and consultancy opportunities

We will:

  • consider case studies of academic engagement in social sciences
  • work through some activities to help you identify potential clients and collaborators
  • work in groups to create your own draft propositions for industry
  • practice delivering key messages to people outside of academia
Thursday PM
Interdisciplinary Round Table

The session will focus on what is interdisciplinary research, (with examples of their interdisciplinary work) and what are the challenges and opportunities for interdisciplinary working. Students will be able to quiz the panel on issues related to their own work and discuss topics such as ‘Which other discipline is the hardest to work with and why?’ and ‘Does interdisciplinary work ‘water down’ your subject identity?’ Student input will be highly valued and encouraged.

The speakers are:

Dr Michelle Bastian – Chancellor’s Fellow, Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh –works in the areas of critical time studies and environmental humanities, describing it as ‘interdisciplinary conversations between philosophy, the social sciences and design’.

Prof Wendy Moncur – Interdisciplinary Chair of Digital Living, School of Art and Design, School of Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Dundee. Has an UKRI Digital Economy project on online trust

Dr Martyn Pickersgill – Wellcome Trust Reader in Social Studies of Biomedicine, Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences & Informatics, Edinburgh Medical School. Projects include ESRC/AHRC Biomedicine and Beyond: The Social and Regulatory Dimensions of Therapeutics in Japan and the UK

Ethnography for Business Studies

In this session, Catherine Owen will introduce the techniques and practice of modern ethnography with a candid look at how PhD candidates and early career researchers have navigated the difficulties of fieldwork and of writing-up. Using her own recently-completed ethnographic PhD as a starting-point, Catherine will consider the value that ethnographic techniques can bring to the study of organisations and of organisational phenomena such as strategy but also show how the conduct of ethnographic research can challenge every assumption about the nature of data, of validity, and of the relationship between the researcher and what is being researched. As well as an introduction to recent trends in ethnographic practice, this session offers the kinds of practical and honest advice that is so often missing from accounts of research in the field and from the processes of collating, interpreting, and presenting ethnographic materials in credible ways.

Multimodal Critical Discourse Analsysis

Multimodal critical discourse analysis (MCDA) is a theoretical and methodological framework in social sciences. MCDA works on the borderline between linguistics and other fields (sociology, history, media studies, anthropology, etc.) and provides an interdisciplinary viewpoint on the analysis of political rhetoric through texts of policy documents and political speeches and through other modes of political communication, such as visual expressions and music. The main issues of focus for MCDA are the relationships between language, power and ideology and revealing how inequalities may be perpetuated through semiotic practices.

Aims of the session:

  • The session introduces the most essential methodological approaches in critical discourse analysis, with the use of multimodal data.
  • Students will be able to carry out their own micro-analysis of data in several genres and modes of communication which are subjected to MCDA.

How to register

Sign up to GradHub

To book in to any of our Summer School events you will require a GradHub account. Please be aware that GradHub accounts require manual approval which can only happen during office hours (Monday to Friday, 9-5). To avoid any delay please ensure this is the first thing you do. If you already have a GradHub account login here.

Check workshop availability

Summer School workshops are filled on a first come first served basis. Please use the schedule below to make sure the workshop you want to attend still has available space before purchasing a ticket, and complete your registration and booking timeously to avoid missing out on a place.

Purchase a ticket

The SGSSS Summer School is a paid event. To attend you must purchase a ticket. We currently offer individual day tickets as well as a 3-day ticket that gives you access to all workshops across the Summer School. Purchase of tickets require registration through the University of Edinburgh ePay system.

Tuesday Only

One day ticket
£ 35
  • Book in to a Morning and Afternoon workshop on Tuesday only

Wednesday Only

One day ticket
£ 35
  • Book in to a Morning and Afternoon workshop on Wednesday only

Thursday Only

One day ticket
£ 35
  • Book in to a Morning and Afternoon workshop on Thursday only

All 3 Days

Special Early Bird Offer
£ 85
  • Book in to any workshop across all 3 days of the Summer School

Register your ticket with GradHub

Once you’ve purchased your ticket, you can now register it with GradHub to enable you to start booking into your workshops. Here we will also ask about any special requirements you have, including any travel expenses you may have and if you require accommodation. 

Book your workshops

Now is the fun part. Once you’ve registered your ticket come back to this page and use the programme below to go directly to each event. Click Book In on your chosen event to reserve your space. Once again, please remember these are first come first served! Book in quick to avoid disappointment.

Tuesday AM

Tuesday PM

Wednesday AM

Wednesday PM

Thursday AM

Thursday PM