History Graduate Student Orientation Page!*
*The contents of the orientation page was developed by Dr. Paige Raibmon (Graduate Chair 2021W, 2023W) with contributions from Dr. Laura Ishiguro, and Mercedes Peters (PhD Candidate).
UBC is on the unceded, ancestral territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-speaking xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people. This means that the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm people have never sold lost, surrendered, or otherwise relinquished the lands and waters that they have occupied for millennia. What the Supreme Court of Canada has termed “Aboriginal Title” remains unresolved.
As a result, UBC has an on-going relationship with the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm Nation that is a work in progress. While you are at UBC, you are an uninvited guest on xʷməθkʷəy̓əm land. As part of learning how to be a respectful guest, we encourage you to learn about the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm and their history in this place.
The following short videos “Musqueam Through Time” were produced by the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm Nation:
You can learn more about the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm on their website: https://www.musqueam.bc.ca/ (
As part of a broad effort to decolonize the academy, we encourage you to also familiarize yourself with UBC's Indigenous Strategic Plan.
1. UBC Learning Commons
- Online Learning: Tech help and tips for approaching academics online.
- Borrow Equipment: Book and borrow equipment with a UBC card.
- Academic Integrity & Citations: Explore our citation and copyright resources.
- Writing Support: Visit the Centre for Writing and Scholarly Communication.
- Skills for Life: Learn skills that will help you at university and beyond
- Tutoring & Advice: Get academic guidance and support
- Quizzes: Take our self-assessment quizzes to find the perfect resources for you.
About UBC Learning Commons
The Learning Commons website is an evolving collection of student-curated learning resources to support academic success and wellness. Based out of the Chapman Learning Commons in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, the Learning Commons website is a collaboration between UBC Library, the Centre for Teaching, Learning & Technology and the Centre for Student Involvement & Careers. Through an emphasis on peer-led, student-driven initiatives and shared-decision making, we strive to enrich academic support and enhance the experience of all UBC students, with an emphasis on the first-year undergraduate experience.
The website provides companion resources to our in-person services in the Chapman Learning Commons, where we provide access to advanced technologies, collaborative work areas, workshop space and learning support. Home to the Centre for Writing and Scholarly Communication and the Chapman Learning Commons, we emphasize a learner- and student-centered approach to services.
Our friendly team of Chapman Learning Commons Assistants work on the level 3 Help Desk in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre and assist library-users with the technology in the space, loan out a wide range of equipment and help students connect with key learning resources and services on campus.
2. UBC Learning Commons - Tech Support
- Ask Us: Our student staff can help you with learning or academic support at UBC, as well as learning technologies (such as Canvas or Zoom)!
- Computers: Looking for a computer? We have them at the Chapman Learning Commons! Come see what we can offer in terms of hardware and software.
- DIY Media Studio: Record high-quality video and audio by booking the DIY Media Studio. Learn more about the studio and how to book it here.
- Foundational Skills: These video tutorials are designed to teach foundational skills that improve your learning experience. Watch and learn how to utilize online learning platforms, reformat digital documents, and more!
- Print, Copy, Scan: Wide range of printers, photocopiers, and scanners for all of your technology needs!
- Recording 101: Find information on recording, editing, scripting, performing, copyright, hosting, and more!
3. UBC Student IT Helpdesk
Got a Question About IT Products and Support?
IT Service Centre Help Desk
The IT Service Centre Help Desk is here to ensure that many of UBC's major online services, such as ResNet and Wireless, work for you. However, the Help Desk doesn't support everything - before you contact the Help Desk, please check what we support , and have detailed information on hand about the nature of your computer problem.
- Canvas E-Learning
- Student and Alumni Mail
- FASmail (Faculty and Staff)
If you are in crisis, the Crisis Centre (link) is an off-campus resource with phone and chat options that are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
*Gratitude and acknowledgement to Dr. Laura Ishiguro who first created this list and to Ph.D. student Mercedes Peters who updated it.
Mental and Physical Health Services*
- Student Services – Health and Wellness: support and resources for stress and overwhelm, mental and physical health support, and studying advice. You can access campus nurses and doctors through here, too.
- Student Services -Mental Health During Covid: Support and resources specifically geared towards these pandemic times
- Counselling Services: UBC Student Counselling Services
- BC Women's Hospital Sexual Assault Service: 24/7 free and confidential availability, and care for assault victims within 7 days of incident.
- WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre: Support centre with 24/7 crisis line who provide support services to survivors of sexualized violence who have shared experiences of gender marginalization: cis and trans women, Two-Spirit, trans and/or non-binary people.
- BC Society for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse: Provides counselling and support for male survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence.
- VictimLink BC: 24/7 email and phone access; provides information and referral services to all victims of crime and immediate crisis support to victims of family and sexual violence, including victims of human trafficking exploited for labour or sexual services.
- AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre: Free and confidential support for people of all genders who have experienced sexual assault, partner violence, and harassment, provided by the AMS.
- The UBC Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office: Provides resources and support, including help with academic concessions and explanations of reporting options, should you choose to do so.
- Vancouver Coastal Health Access and Assessment Centre: A walk-in or phone-in centre to help with non-life threatening mental health and/or substance use issues.
- Vancouver Substance Use Harm Reduction Services: Harm reduction services provide supplies for safer drug injection (needles), safer smoking (mouthpieces, push sticks) and safer sex (condoms), information on supervised drug consumption sites and where and how to access them.
- BCCDC Harm Reduction Services: Here, you can find a harm reduction site as well as information about Naloxone training and programs
- Options for Sexual Health Care: Options for Sexual Health Care clinics provide birth control counselling, low-cost contraceptives, sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening, cervical screening, pregnancy testing, pro-choice pregnancy options counselling, and general sexual health information and referrals. Services are LGBTQ2S+ friendly and for all ages in most locations.
- QMUNITY: BC's Queer, Trans and Two-Spirit Resource Centre, offers community support centre, access to counselling services, information about LGBTQ2S+ centred healthcare, located in Vancouver.
- AMS Peer Support: AMS group providing free, confidential, one-on-one peer support for UBC students and staff facing a wide variety of challenges.
- UBC Centre for Accessibility: Support designed to remove barriers for students with disabilities; also facilitates disability related accommodations and IEPs. Students with disabilities who wish to have academic accommodations should contact the centre so that their professors can ensure fair access to your courses as soon as possible. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your supervisor, or Paige Raibmon, acting grad chair, to ensure that your needs are met.
- Assistive Technology British Columbia: Provides assistive technology resources to make learning environments usable for people with disabilities throughout British Columbia, including aid with grant applications to fund assistive technology.
- SPARC BC: Issues/ renews parking permits for designated parking spaces; community programming.
Reading, Writing, Equipment Access*
- History Department’s Writing Centre: Includes information on writing a research paper, developing a topic and thesis, and citation styles.
- UBC Learning Commons: A range of use full learning resources, academic support, and information about borrowing equipment like laptops.
- UBC Library: Among other things, a useful series of guides to doing research, as well as a place to do it!
- First Nations House of Learning: Services including academic advising and a computer centre for Indigenous students.
- International Student Guide: Resources, information, and services for international students.
- Arts Advising: Advising services for Arts students, including handling requests for academic concession.
- Extended Learning courses in writing and the English language: Non-credit courses if you wish to improve your academic, professional, business, and creative writing and/or your use of English as an additional language.
- WriteAway: A UBC online writing tutoring service for essays and other written assignments.
Administrative, Financial, Dispute Resolution*
- Arts Advising: Advising services for Arts students, including handling requests for academic concession.
- Advocacy and Ombudsperson Offices: Responsible for representing students and resolving disputes.
- Enrolment Services Professional: Support for a range of issues, including if you experience financial distress.
- Transit / U-Pass: The U-Pass BC program is a subsidized transit pass program that provides post-secondary students with universal, accessible and affordable access to public transit across Metro Vancouver.
- AMS Food Bank: Emergency food relief.
The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies offers a range of helpful resources for graduate students.
1) Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, the Graduate Student Society, and International Student Development will host a GradStart Welcome Day. In addition, they organize various orientation events and information sessions.
2) Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies organize various events and information sessions. Resources and orientation information for new graduate students, including events can be found in the links below:
Although UBC has been on campus in person since 2022-23, Covid-19 is not yet in our rearview mirror.
On this page, we've included a variety of different resources that may help you think about approaching your year, as students and as teachers. As always, if you find yourselves struggling, reach out to someone; grad school can't happen in a vacuum!
- UBC Student Services: A page full of resources for students navigating the university and other struggles during the pandemic.
- This resource, called Cripping Pandemic Learning in Higher Education: An Explanation, is designed to help teachers at all levels working online to start teaching from a Universal Design model-- this makes teaching accessible to all students from the start. Too often disabled students are included in pedagogical design as an afterthought; this model establishes accessibility as the foundation from which pedagogy builds. Special thanks to UBC grad student Hannah Facknitz for her work on this with Danielle Lorenz, associate editor of the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies.
- A website that the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology has put together called Keep Teaching that contains resources that may make the transition to online teaching a little easier.
- The American Historical Association has put together wiki containing a bunch of online teaching resources that may be helpful! This list will be updated as time goes on-- there's a lot here; we'd recommend spending some time playing around with the website and its resources. Alternatively, there's more on the American Historical Association website that may also prove useful.
Working With Your Graduate Supervisor
In order to have a successful and rewarding time in graduate school, it is important to build a strong working relationship with your graduate supervisor. This requires clear communication about the expectations and capacities of both the supervisor and yourself. Think about what kind of relationships with your supervisor you'll need to feel supported, and thrive during your degree.
The Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Faculty has a useful section on their website about this working relationship.
It includes pages on:
- work expectations
- avoiding common problems
- time management
- potential challenges
- problem resolution
- ending the relationship
Here are some other resources, articles and videos that you may find helpful as you think about, approach and move forward working with your supervisor:
- In this video, Ann on Demand talks about how to develop a positive relationship with your supervisor. She speaks from a PhD perspective, but, this video could also be used to help MA students with supervisor relationships too:
- In this video, Professor James Arvanitakis from Western Sydney University in Australia, offers 7 tips for developing relationships with your supervisor. While the video is PhD-supervisor-specific, these tips work for MA students as well!:
- A January article in the Guardian provides a discussion on what to do "When the Relationship with your PhD Supervisor Turns Toxic (Link)".
- An interesting journal article published in The Journal of Education and Training Studies called "Relationship Matters: Duo-Narrating a Graduate Student/Supervisor Journey" written by Mary Breunig and Joyce Penner. This link opens to an online PDF (Link)
If you are having issues with your supervisor, and feel uncomfortable or unsafe speaking to them, please reach out to the graduate advisor/chair to help you, and who will work with you on what steps feel best for you and your situation.
Graduate Supervision in the History Department
Guidelines for Best Practices:
The following recommendations are designed for graduate students who are starting their education in the department and for their supervisors. It explains the existing procedures with the goal to foster a collegial work environment conducive to the success of graduate studies and research.
- Choosing a supervisor: The department assigns a supervisor(s) from among the department’s faculty to every graduate student, taking into consideration the student’s stated interests and preferences. In cases of co-supervision, at least one of the supervisors will come from the department. In cases when the student’s research interests change significantly in the course of study and it becomes advisable to reassign the primary supervisor, the student should discuss this with the chair of the graduate committee who will, upon consultation, make a decision in the best interests of the student.
- Research topic: The primary supervisor should help the student in the selection and the development of a research topic that is original, challenging, at the appropriate level of the degree sought, and can be completed within the expected time frame. The supervisor should make sure that, when necessary, the research proposal for an MA or PhD project is submitted for approval to the university’s ethics research board. The student must pursue the research in accordance with the university’s policies on research integrity, ethical norms, observing copyright, and avoiding plagiarism.
- Contact between student and supervisor: Students are encouraged to take the initiative to call upon their primary supervisors on a regular basis, seeking consultation and advice on any important aspect of their study and/or life as a graduate student. They should promptly inform their supervisor(s) of any problems or challenges that arise in the course of their studies. Primary supervisors should meet with each of their graduate students at least twice each semester to learn about the student’s progress and to speak together about challenges that may require attention. Students, supervisors, and committee members, should agree on mutually convenient communication practices, whether via email, phone, or in person, and each should make an effort to respond promptly to messages.
- Making decisions: Students should make decisions about which courses to take to satisfy the program’s course requirements, about how best to define their thesis topic, research strategies, methods and sources, about which relevant fields to choose for their comprehensive examinations, and about where to seek financial assistance and research support upon consultation with their primary supervisor(s), and in accordance with the department’s rules.
- Additional faculty advisors/supervisors: Upon consultation with their primary supervisors, students invite additional faculty members to serve as field examiners, second readers, and/or members of the prospectus and thesis committees. An MA committee typically consists of the primary supervisor and the second reader, whereas PhD committees typically include the primary supervisor plus two or three graduate faculty. The PhD prospectus and the thesis committees often overlap significantly, but do not have to be identical. Faculty from other departments and universities can be invited to serve on the above committees. In the cases when additional faculty are in other departments, the graduate advisor and supervisor follow up with information about departmental procedures. For the dissertation defense, the supervisor recommends outside readers for FoGS’ approval.
- Progress to degree: In cases when the student’s progress and achievements fall below what is expected of a graduate student in the UBC History Department, it is the duty of the primary supervisor and the graduate chair to explain the situation to the student and to consider an appropriate action. Grades of A+, A, and A- are indicators of good progress. Grades of B+ are marginal. Grades of B or lower are not acceptable progress.
- Meetings with the Graduate Advisor: The chair of the graduate committee meets with each student and the primary supervisor on a semi-annual basis. After the thesis prospectus defense and advance to candidacy, PhD students no longer have to meet regularly with the graduate chair. Every January, the entire committee should confer with the ABD student in person or virtually about their progress and report to the graduate advisor. MA students meet with their supervisors and the graduate advisor semi-annually until they complete their program.
- Research leaves: When either the primary supervisor and/or the student are away from campus on leave both parties should make arrangements for maintaining regular contact. It is the responsibility of both parties to be available and stay in contact throughout the entire period of graduate study.
- Research and writing: The student should keep the primary supervisor informed about the progress of research and writing and about any serious difficulties hindering the timely completion of the thesis. This includes submitting reports and written drafts for regular examination. The supervisor and members of the thesis committee should read and comment on student’s written work on the thesis in a timely manner (usually within two weeks), providing constructive suggestions for improvement and revision. The thesis supervisor should advise the student on the intellectual content of the thesis but also on the standards for quality and style to which the thesis must conform.
- Professional development: The primary supervisor should provide advice on presenting work at conferences and through publications, on career options, on sources of research support, and on other aspects of professional development. The department also organizes an annual series of professional development workshops for graduate students to help them better address the typical challenges of professionalization in the field.
- PhD prospectus: Upon reading and commenting upon the draft(s) of the student’s PhD prospectus, the supervisor makes a decision as to if the student is ready for the prospectus defense and consults with other members of the prospectus committee to establish mutually convenient dates of the defense, within the general limits prescribed by the university and department regulations. The prospectus defense must occur within four months after the comprehensive exams.
- Thesis defense: Upon reading and commenting upon the draft(s) of the student’s thesis, the thesis committee makes a decision as to if the student is prepared to stand for the thesis defense. The primary supervisor is responsible for the paperwork necessary to initiate the thesis defense, and, in case of the PhD defense, submits formal recommendations for external examiners and university examiners.
Who are we and what do we do?
The HGSA is a group of graduate students in the History Department committed to supporting student life and community. We host or assist in a number of key events (namely our annual book sale, the Qualicum Conference, and the Burge Lecture) as well as smaller internal events for graduate students.
Connect with HGSA on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HGSAUBC/
Qualicum History Conference
For more than 40 years, UBC history graduate students have participated in the annual Qualicum Student-Faculty History Conference on Vancouver Island. This conference brings together History faculty and students of the major British Columbia universities for a weekend of intellectual exchange and fun. The conference is generously supported by the Departments of History from the University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University and UBC.
The Burge Lecture is an annual keynote lecture that provides students, faculty, alumni and community members the opportunity to connect with historians and other scholars engaged in exciting research. Past Burge speakers have included Robert Darnton, Ian Miller, Richard White, Tara Zahra, Natalie Zemon Davis, Ann Stoler, and most recently, Audra Simpson from Columbia University.
The HGSA Executive is responsible for organizing a number of events — including the Qualicum Conference, and the Burge Lecture as well as internal events for graduate students.
Each year, at the beginning of the school year, we hold elections for the following positions (new students are always encouraged to get involved and run for positions!)
- President and Vice President: (These positions are usually filled at the end of the previous school year by students in their second-year-or-above). The presidential positions are leadership roles in the HGSA. They act as a liaison between the students and the faculty, handle administrative labour and communications with the Department, organize monthly meetings and bring food/coffee for these meetings, make and send out agendas for those meetings, and act as the eyes and ears for the HGSA. They should support the other positions in the executive when needed.
- Secretary: The secretary is primarily the minute-taker for HGSA meetings. They will write the minutes, edit them, send them out to the student listserv post-meeting, and upload the minutes to the HGSA Google Drive. They may also support the presidents in crafting agendas and sending out emails to schedule dates for monthly meetings, events, etc.
- Treasurer: The treasurer handles the HGSA’s finances and banking. With the presidents and the rest of the executive, the treasurer works on creating a budget for the year (to be given to the Department early in September), helps with cash needs and depositing fundraising from the book sale, and may also assist students with reimbursements if required. The treasurer also keeps track of the HGSA’s two budgets: the yearly $1000 from the Department; and the HGSA’s separate account.
- TA Union Representative: The TA union representative is our liaison with the TA Union, CUPE 2278. They will relay pertinent information from the union to the student listserv and attend necessary meetings held by the union.
- Faculty Representative: The faculty representative attends faculty meetings, takes minutes of important information for students, sends these minutes to the student listserv, and uploads these minutes to the HGSA Google Drive. They will be in touch with the Department Head about the schedule of the meetings.
- Social Representative: The social representative organizes events for graduate students throughout the year. We have monthly socials – from movie nights to book organizing parties – with firm budgets (so they will have to coordinate with the presidents and the treasurer). This is key to keeping the community active!
- Book Sale Representative: The book sale representative organizes the annual HGSA book sale (usually in the fall). They will help to arrange get-togethers to sort through, recycle, and organize the books in the storage locker. They will also need to schedule a table in the AMS Nest for the event and work on marketing for the book sale. They also create a schedule of volunteers for the sale.
- Equity Representative: The equity representative acts as a point-person or sounding board for graduate students in the department needing advice or guidance on issues that might arise regarding TAships, coursework, mental health, student-supervisor relationships, student safety, etc. The equity representative is not expected to be an expert or therapist, but should be able to pass along resources to students, provide general support, and be willing to communicate with the faculty alongside the president(s). In certain cases, the equity representative may take on a larger role when required by particular circumstances.
- Qualicum Conference Representative: The Qualicum representative works with the UVIC organizing committee on the Qualicum conference schedule and panel organizing. They also play a key role on the administrative end of things, assisting students in arranging room and transportation, and other questions that might arise about Qualicum.
- Graduate Student Society Representative: The GSS representative attends monthly meetings organized by the Graduate Student Society acting on behalf of “historian” graduate students.
- Burge Chair (or Co-Chairs) and Committee: The Burge chair(s) facilitate the annual Burge Lecture (usually in the spring). They are elected the year previous in order to get an early start on invitations to potential lecturers. Over the summer, the chair polls the HGSA for a short list of preferred speakers and sends this list to the student listserv. By June or July, they should send out a formal invitation to the nominated speaker and await a response. Our goal is to have a confirmation from a speaker sometime in the fall to prepare for the event in the following spring. The committee is an informal group of students committed to supporting the chair(s) in organizing the Burge Lecture. Usually, the committee consists of: catering outreach and venue planning; correspondence with the speaker to arrange their transportation and accommodations; marketing team. The Burge Lecture is assisted by the Communications Coordinator in the Department and usually Alumni Affairs.
Link to Download: TA Handbook for History Department
*The contents of the following information below was developed by Dr. Laura Ishiguro (TA Director 2021W, 2022W).
TA Director Role*
The TA Director is the faculty point-person for concerns, questions, issues, triumphs, etc related to your TA work. The TA Director is the most likely contact for general questions and advice about teaching, issues with your TA assignment, or questions and concerns that you would prefer not to raise with the instructor whom you're TAing.
The instructor for which your're TAing should inform and advise about the specific expectations and responsibilities for your TAship in their course. In some cases, you might already be in touch with them, but if not, they will often connect with you close to the start of term.
As a TA, you are a member of a union, and CUPE 2278 is there for work-related concerns.
TA Training Program*
- New TAs: You are expected to attend the training events. The hours are included in your workload.
- Returning TAs: You are not required to attend the training events. However, you are welcome to attend should you want to refresh or build on your training. If you know ahead of time, please give me a heads-up by email if you plan to join us for a workshop, as this will help me plan for expected numbers.
- All TAs: Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend the annual TA Townhall Meeting so the TA Director can hear how things are going!
- By the time your position begins, the instructor should complete a workload summary form that outlines the general expected allocation of your hours. This form should help you to understand your responsibilities and about how much time you should spend on them. You should keep track of the hours you actually spend on the job throughout the term too. Your time spent can vary a bit from the workload form - some tasks might take you more time, and others less. However, under no circumstances should you work more total hours than you are contracted and paid to work! If, as the term goes on, you find that you're spending too much time on TA work, please speak with the instructor and/or me as soon as possible. The TA director and instructor can advise about how to spend less time on the tasks that are taking a long time and/or the instructor can adjust the expectations of your position. No matter what, you're definitely not supposed to be working for free and, at some point, more hours does not mean better teaching either.
- In some cases, you haven't been a TA before. In some cases, the Canadian university system might be unfamiliar, including what a TA actually is and does. In some cases, you're working in a course that's well outside your expertise. In some cases, all of those things might be true. No matter what, you are capable of this work! The training program can help. So can support from the TA Director and the instructor, as well as your peers. And, everyone learns and improves as a teacher by actually doing the work. So, if you are inclined to worry about these things, you're not alone and it's going to be okay.
Dealing with stress is an important aspect of your personal health and well-being. Taking care of yourself is an essential aspect of succeeding in graduate school. The following tips for dealing with stress are based on a resource from Duke University. At the end of this list of tips, we've included some other resources that discuss dealing with grad school stress-- check them out!
Remember: There are resources on campus to help you manage if stress becomes too much. Don't be scared to use them, and don't be scared to reach out to your peers and supervisors, sooner rather than later!
Tips for Dealing with Stress
By: Gary Glass and Christine Pesetski
Stress is a normal and expected part of graduate school, but if left unmanaged, it could turn into distress or an even more disruptive condition. Here are five tips to help graduate students keep their stress from becoming distress.
1. Take care of your body
Stress is, if nothing else, a physiological phenomenon that can be managed through sleep, exercise, and a good diet. Rest will help restore your physical and mental resources; exercise will release the tension that emerges when you face challenges over a period of time; and eating and drinking well will fuel your body and mind for upcoming challenges.
UBC GRAD STUDENT EDIT: All of this said, sometimes the "perfect way to physically manage stress" isn't possible for us to follow. We all have barriers to "ideal" situations, be they, among other things, physical, mental, or economic. Please reach out to your peers, your supervisors, or other members of your community if you are struggling. We don't get through grad school stress isolated-- community is key.
2. Don't neglect your life outside of school
Inevitably, being a graduate student demands a focus that can block out the other things in your life that matter. However, too much neglect of those other things can cost you the energy and focus to meet your academic demands. However imbalanced your time investments may be, be sure to set aside time for your other priorities relationships (family, friends, partners), interests and passions, time for reflection or spiritual focus, and taking care of your body (as mentioned in No. 1 above).
3. Remind yourself of your long-term goals
One of the most common sources of stress is the exhaustion of working on something with no tangible results int he short term. Much of graduate school stress is related to your long-term aspirations. Keep reassessing whether your long-term goals remain intact. Each time you do, you will renew your motivation and reduce your stress because your work is not as much a threat as it is a valued opportunity.
4. Celebrate milestones along the way
Sometimes you might get stuck in thinking that you have to do more and do it faster, and better than everyone else. This can lead you down a path that may not be helpful as you work toward your long-term goals. It is useful to acknowledge and reward yourself when you complete a portion of your work. This can give your endorphins a boost, allow you to breathe a little deeper, and provide a shift in focus that can be valuable in regenerating yourself for the next leg of the journey.
5. Allow yourself to trust
Trust in your ability to listen to the physical, emotional, and mental cues your body provides. Usually, if you are not in a reactive mindset, you can pay attention to the things you need. Also, remember that there are others you can trust. Reach out to those who care. Ask for help from your adviser or other faculty with whom you have good relationships. Remember that the administrators in the department are invested in your well-being and success, and keep in mind the resources at the university. They are there to help you.
- "How to Ruin your Mental Health as a PhD Student" ()
- "Impostor Syndrome" ()
- PhD Balance (Link to external website): A website and blog made by graduate students, for graduate students, of all backgrounds. Includes resources for student parents, disabled and neurodivergent students, LGBTQ2S+ students, BIPOC students, and more! There are lots of great tips here for managing stress in a variety of different situations! (This website is currently in progress, so expect more to come as time goes on!)
Time management is an essential topic to consider in the first days of your graduate program, but conversations about time management have shifted from simply discussing topics like avoiding procrastination and scheduling, to understanding that students may have obligations outside of school that take up a significant amount their time. Below are some resources from various different sources that may help you consider managing your time throughout the school year. First, we've included some tips based on suggestions UBC's Graduate Studies has offered students, but that's not all! At the end of the post, you'll find some videos you can check out on the topic too!
Here are some tips that UBC Graduate Studies has offered students:
The following text is based off of the UBC Graduate Studies' page on time management.
Managing your time effectively can have profoundly positive effects on your productivity at work as well as your general sense of well-being.
Monitor Your Goals
Monitor the goals you set in an Annual Plan to make sure they are still realistic. Sometimes you will need to modify these as circumstances change. Having realistic, achievable goals can help you manage your time better.
Know Your Best Working Times
Are you a morning person? A night owl? Do you tend to wilt after lunch? Our personal energy cycles influence our alertness and productivity at different times of the day. We can often get twice as much done in an hour when we're alert and productive than when our energy is at an ebb.
- Think about when you are at your most alert and productive, and schedule that time for your tasks that require thinking and analysis.
- Think about when you tend to wilt or fade, and save mundane tasks for that time of day.
Get Enough Sleep
Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. Sleep deprivation can cause disorientation, irritability, difficulty concentrating and memory problems. People who haven't had enough sleep make more mistakes and are less productive. Napping helps, but it's not a replacement for uninterrupted sleep.
UBC GRAD STUDENT EDIT: If you are having trouble sleeping, there may be underlying mental or physical health issues that you should investigate. Talk to your peers, your supervisor, and consider speaking to a doctor or a counsellor. Don't wait until you're really struggling to talk to someone. Sleep is crucial.
Plan Uninterrupted Time
An important consideration for effective time management is finding regular times in your day when you can work uninterrupted. Then you can schedule tasks that require concentration and focus at these times.
If you don't have any blocks of time that can be predictably defined as uninterrupted, you may need to create them. Here are some things that you can do to create uninterrupted time.
- Turn off the phone ringer
- Close your office door
- Work at home or away from your office in a quiet place
UBC GRAD STUDENT EDIT: We understand that this is not always possible-- students may not have access to an office, or to a quiet place. They may have children, or other family members and obligations that make uninterrupted time difficult to access. Alternatively, students may not be able to access spaces outside of the home due to financial constraints; for example, they may not be able to afford ordering at coffee shops to sit in. While libraries are great places to work, it is always helpful to connect with your supervisor, or the Grad Chair if you're struggling to access space to do your work. Don't hesitate to reach out to your peers, either.
For some people, procrastination is a real time management problem that keeps them from achieving their goals. When you find yourself procrastinating, ask yourself:
- Why are you procrastinating in the first place?
- Is this task important to you?
- Does it link to one of your long-term goals or priorities?
- If the task isn't important to you, is it important to someone else?
UBC GRAD STUDENT EDIT: Procrastination can be tricky topic, because it is often presented as a moral failing, or laziness, when that is simply not the case. If you are struggling with procrastination, lack of energy, or interest in completing activities, there may be an underlying issue. Consider talking to your peers, your supervisor, or the Grad Chair about these issues. At the same time, you may want to consider talking to a doctor, or a counsellor. Remember: Setting aside time to rest or to do non-academic things that you love is crucial when you're in grad school. This is healthy, and should NOT be considered procrastinating. Breaks are not bad.
Delegation can help you get more things done and provide opportunities for others to gain experience in work related to graduate research. Here are some tips for effective delegating.
- Don't delegate what you can eliminate
- Respect other people's time and abilities: consider who can do the job most efficiently and effectively and when.
- Delegate some tasks you don't want to delegate. Often, our pet tasks impede our ability to get more important things done. Usually someone else can do these pet tasks just as well as you can.
- Plan your delegation. Consult with others first, select people you think are capable of doing the job and who would like to do the job, then train them if necessary. Delegate gradually, insist on feedback, and then leave them alone.
- Delegation is one of the most effective methods of developing other's skills. Make the extra effort to spread delegation across the board, and develop a strong team that you work well with.
Delegation is not only a skill, it's a way of life. Like everything else, in order to be effective, you have to work at it. But once perfected, it will multiply your success a hundredfold.
It is often difficult to say "no" to requests that are made of you. Here are some things that you can do to determine what you need to say "no" to, and how to say it:
- Why do you want to do this? Is this something that relates to your priorities or do you want to do this because your ego is involved? Sometimes we say "yes" to things because we want to boost our egos, even if the task or project takes time away from our other priorities.
- Buy yourself time before you respond. If you are unsure, ask the person if you can get back to them. During this time you should think about what saying "yes" to think task means: what you will gain from it, how much time it will really take, and what you won't be able to do if you say "yes."
- Block out time in your calendar first. Make you other tasks and responsibilities explicit to yourself and others. Block out the time this task will take and see how it fits in with your other tasks.
- Get a second opinion. Ask a trusted colleague or friend what they think. Find out what your friend thinks you would gain or lose by saying "yes" or "no".
- Look for other solutions. Could you do part of the task? Can you provide guidance to another person instead? Is there someone else who might be better suited to the task?
- If you are sure you need to say "no", say it sooner rather than later, and say it firmly but graciously.
UBC GRAD STUDENT EDIT: If you feel uncomfortable telling someone "no," like a supervisor or professor, it may be helpful to reach out to peers for support, or the Grad Chair for help mediating situations.
Working in Groups (We've added this ourselves, because we think this is really important!)
Grad school can be really isolating at times, but it doesn't have to be that way; in fact, isolation may be one of the biggest issues contributing to time management problems.
Your relationship with your cohort is one of the most important tools you have to get through grad school. Much of what you experience, they'll be experiencing too, and may share many of your feelings. It helps to talk to your peers about your struggles, and it helps even more to work together. Sometimes assignments, readings, or TA duties feel less overwhelming when you can work and talk through them with colleagues.
REMEMBER: There is no one "right" way to manage your time. If what works for you doesn't look like what your colleagues are doing, that's okay!
- Rackham Graduate School: "Advice for Students with Children." Video (
- Toyin Alli (Math PhD): "How to Master Time Management in Grad School." Video (
- Ijeoma Kola (Phd Student): "PhD Talk | Balancing School, Work, and Everything Else." Video (
- For those times when you feel like you really need to get stuff done, many students in the program have found the Pomodoro Technique helpful. There are apps you can get that set this up for you, but here's a video from Med School Insiders that explains the technique's history, and how to do it! Video (
Every year, the UBC History Graduate Association-- more specifically, the Burge Committee-- organizes an annual endowed lecture made possible by a generous donation from UBC alumnus William Burge. The Burge Lecture series provides students, faculty, alumni and community members the opportunity to connect with historians and scholars engaged in exciting research!
For examples of previous years' Burge Lectures, check out the below links:
2022: Dr. David Aiona Chang
2021: Dr. Sunil Amrith
2019: Dr. Audra Simpson
2018: Dr. Ian Miller
2017: Dr. Beverly Lemire
Each year, the History graduate committee member in charge of Grant-Writing, has the responsibility of helping graduate students with their grant applications.
In general, their responsibilities include:
- Contacting graduate students during the summer about their grant-application responsibilities;
- Organizing and running a grant-writing workshop for graduate students in early September;
- Working with all eligible Department graduate students on their SSHRC and other grant applications, including meeting with them, and reading and helping them revise their project proposals.
Acknowledgment: UBC’s Point Grey Campus is located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam) people. The land it is situated on has always been a place of learning for the Musqueam people, who for millennia have passed on in their culture, history, and traditions from one generation to the next on this site.