The next Thesis Boot Camp will run online on Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th June 2021, 10am-5pm. Applications open Wednesday 31st of March and close Friday 30th April (11.59pm GMT).

Are you a late-stage doctoral researcher, struggling to finish your thesis? Are you struggling to get started with your academic writing? Or have you hit a block? Finding it tough to get motivated?

If so, this two-day online writing retreat can help you get back on track and make significant progress with your article or thesis. You get the time and structure to focus.

With guidance from an experienced facilitator, you'll set realistic goals and achieve them in a supportive virtual environment. The programme includes warm-up exercises, group discussion, and 1-2-1 coaching. And you'll receive instruction in advance on how best to prepare for the retreat.

By the end of the retreat, you'll have:

  • better understanding of your writing process and habits
  • strategies for improving your focus
  • techniques for planning and measuring progress, and (hopefully) a big chunk of writing!

Please see below for the full eligibility criteria before completing the application form. The application form will be sent to all current PGRs via email. If you have not received the application form, please contact and we will email this to you.


Please note, this is an online writing retreat and is hosted on Zoom. If you’re allocated a place, you’ll receive full joining instructions nearer the time. Participants will need the following:

  • Computer, laptop, or smartphone with a stable internet connection
  • Sound (and headphones, if you're in shared space)
  • Microphone (if you'd like an optional 1-2-1)
Who can attend? Eligibility criteria

The two day virtual writing retreat is a free event provided by the Graduate School and supported by your Faculty Research Degree Coordinators.

You are eligible to apply if you are:

  • A Doctoral Researcher at the University of Portsmouth
  • In the final stages of completing your degree. That is, you have completed data collection (in whatever form is relevant to your project and discipline) and are currently 'writing up'. The ultimate aim of thesis boot camp is to write 2,000 words of first draft material. It is not for editing, revising, preparing presentations or grant applications etc. In other words, you must be able to identify the particular chapter(s) of your thesis that you will work on as part of your writing retreat goal.
  • Able to clearly identify how you would benefit from an intensive weekend of drafting a particular section of your thesis.
  • Willing and able to attend all sessions, to complete preparatory tasks in the lead up to the event, and to commit to the ethos of dedicated writing required at the two day writing retreat.
  • Able to provide details of an academic referee to support your application (e.g. your supervisor or Departmental Research Degree Coordinator)
Important notes for applicants

There is likely to be high demand for places and be oversubscribed. We will be assessing each application carefully, so please answer the questions as fully as possible. We want to recruit only attendees who will make the most of the opportunity.

It’s important to note that the two day writing retreat is an intensive writing environment and the focus is on productivity, not on style. If you want more general help with improving your academic writing, then one of our Graduate School Development Programme workshops would be more appropriate for you. Neither is there any specific support for attendees writing in English as a second language. If you need this type of assistance, you can book individual workshops with the In-sessional English (ISE) team (

The deadline for applications is Friday 30th April, 16:00pm.   

How the event works

The event comprises:

  • An online course on how to plan a piece of writing, prepare your materials, and boost your productivity (you'll receive this in advance).
  • Live webinars at the beginning and end of each writing session.
  • An optional 1-2-1 coaching session with the facilitator. 

The Schedule for both days

10.00 – WEBINAR: Welcome, warm-up exercises & strategies for making the most of the day

10.30 – Writing & 1-2-1s

12.45 – WEBINAR: Group session

13.00 – Lunch break

14.00 – WEBINAR: Group session

14.15 – Writing & 1-2-1s

16.30 – WEBINAR: Group session

16.45 – WEBINAR: Final thoughts; Q&A

17.00 – Finish

About the Facilitator

The event is facilitated by Dr Catherine Pope, an experienced coach and workshop facilitator. Catherine has worked with more than 3,500 researchers across 12 universities. She has worked with the Graduate School over the last couple of years providing the Thesis Boot Camp.

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