University of Salford Manchester

Salford Postgraduate Annual Research Conference (SPARC)

SPARC is a forum for developing research, offering a space for postgraduate researchers from all disciplines to exchange ideas. The two-day conference is run annually, hosted by Research & Innovation.

SPARC 13: Theory, Practice, Impact

SPARC 2013 took place on 5 – 6 June. Over 220 staff and students from Salford and many other local universities took part in the event. This year, presenters were particularly encouraged to think about the contribution of their research in terms of any of the following:

  • advancement in theoretical understanding, for example challenging, developing or reframing debates
  • enhancements to practice, for example new applications of theory; enhancement of techniques, technologies, skills
  • beneficial impacts on society, economy, culture or the environment.


SPARC posterThere were a total of 140 student presentations. In addition to traditional 15 minute papers and research posters, this year students experimented with PechaKuchas and Three Minute Thesis presentations, the winner of which went on to compete in the national 3MT competition at the University of Leeds.

12 students won prizes for their presentations – full details are available here

Workshops and talks

SPARC presentionAs well as student presentations, SPARC 13 also ran workshops and panel discussions on the conference themes. The Vice Chancellor, Prof Martin Hall, opened the conference and introduced an engaging impact showcase session. Speakers from each of the colleges, Dr Mark James (Law);  Dr Tracey Williamson (Nursing); Dr Ursula Hurley (Humanities) and Prof Richard Haigh (Built Environment), discussed their recent research in relation to social, cultural, economic and health benefits and the impact agenda within Higher Education.

The theory of research was considered by Prof Andrew Basden (Business) in his talk on research paradigms, while practice was approached in two sessions: a workshop on Digital and Social Media in Health run by Prof Paula Ormandy, Prof Ben Light and Cristina Vasilica, and a round table discussion on practice-based research in Arts and Humanities, led by Dr Scott Thurston.

Recent PhD students came together on day 2 to discuss their career paths since obtaining their PhD. Rhianne Jones (Sociology), Georgios Kapogiannis (Business), Rodolfo Venegas (Acoustics) and Christopher Quinn (Physics) are all working in different roles: for the BBC; in academia; as a technical director and as a self employed consultant. They answered questions from current PGRs the employability skills obtained from their PhDs and the steps to getting their post-PhD jobs.

* Photo courtesy of Lauren Cain Photography


The event was captured in images and film by Salford students. Photographs by Lauren Cain are available through the PGR Flickr site

Film footage of the opening address and the impact session were filmed by Evgeniya Bolotova and Andrew Munro and will be made available on the Research and Innovation YouTube channel