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Durham University

St John's College

Postgraduate research

Postgraduate students are invited to take the lead on organising academic events and projects, from research presentations to international conferences, with support from the College. Current flagship events include the high profile annual Borderland lecture, as well as the student-led 'Broaderlands' seminar series which offers a platform for postgraduates students to share their research with the John’s community.

Academic Peer Support

We run regular Dissertation Drop-in sessions, organised by the Postgraduate International Tutor. These are a a great opportunity for students from different disciplines to get together as peers to help each other with current work and research in a relaxed environment. The content is participant-driven and explores everything from drawing up a good work-plan and planning an effective daily routine, to searching the literature, managing long documents, referencing, maths and stats, and navigating academic English.

“The sessions by Miro were helpful for learning how to write academic English in a simple but efficient manner. They have improved my writing ability and I have already noticed a positive change in my academic thinking and writing. ”

Monir Ahmed, PhD Theology and Religion

Meet some of our postgraduate researchers

Name: Susan Notess

Degree: PhD

Department: Philosophy

Originally from Colorado, I studied linguistics and had a career working internationally in minority language development. The context of international non-profit development work brought me face to face with the realities and high stakes of communication ethics. I discovered the need for people in positions of power and privilege to be able to listen to those with disempowered voices. I left my career and came to Durham for a Postgraduate Diploma (conversion course) in philosophy, and have now returned to Durham to complete a PhD. I was drawn to Durham by the quality of research and the specialities of the faculty in my department, in particular those who, like my supervisors, are seasoned at working across conventional divides, working with cognitive sciences and psychiatry, continental philosophy, and analytic philosophy.

My project is to develop a philosophy of listening, in which I seek to describe what specifically we are referring to when we talk about 'listening to someone' and to elucidate the moral features of listening to people. In particular, I raise and seek to answer the question of what sort of moral wrong, if any, is caused to a person if I fail—or indeed refuse—to listen to her, and how does the morality change in relationships of authority or prestige? For example, if I were a judge, doctor, or parent and should fail/refuse to listen to a witness, patient, or child, what are the ethical stakes, and how can such failings be remedied? My work aims to establish new links between various sub-disciplines in philosophy that affect or are affected by matters to do with listening, including phenomenology, ethics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language, as well as drawing on the wisdom on offer in cognitive science and social psychology.

Name: Miro Cafolla

Department: Physics

After working for the University of Rome, Oxford and Cambridge, I am currently based in Durham where I conduct experimental research on nanoscience and nanotechnology. My background is wide and includes a solid knowledge of both biomedical sciences and of physics and chemistry. My research is indeed interdisciplinary and focuses on different areas including friction and lubrication, electromagnetic phenomena like skyrmions and multiferroics, as well as pharmacology on model systems and on voluntary subjects. My research aims at answering questions in fundamental science, as well as developing new medical devices and technological applications. In my studies, I use a variety of different techniques ranging from Atomic Force Microscopy and Scanning Electron Microscopy to X-Rays scattering, fluorescence spectroscopy, complex statistical analysis and computer simulations. A list of my publications can be found here:

As a scientist, I value the importance of humanities as a fundamental part of our society and of everyone’s life. Thanks to my High School teachers in Italy, I have achieved a good knowledge, and above all a deep interest in literature, philosophy, history, economics, ancient Greek and Latin. Living in an incredibly vibrant and intellectually stimulating community like John’s fulfils my interests as the College has been always committed to encouraging interdisciplinary studies and exploring the relationships between science and arts.

I am currently the Postgraduate and International Tutor here at John’s. I am a resident tutor with a specific focus both on contributing to the postgraduate and international students’ wellbeing and on promoting the academic and intellectual life of the college. Among my activities as a tutor, I have organised and chaired a long series of café scientifiques and dissertation drop-in events.

My hobbies include cinema, chess, sports and fitness. If you want to meet up and chat upon science and humanities, don’t hesitate to drop me an email at

Contact us

Senior Tutor's Office

St John's College 
3 South Bailey 

Office hours: 9:0012:30, 13:3016:30

T: 0191 334 3881

Student support and wellbeing: 


College enquiries, admissions and accommodation:

Meet Noreen Mansuri, St John’s Postgraduate Scholar 2018-19

Noreen is a new student at Durham University pursuing her MA in Theology and Religion. She is originally from Fresno, California, a larger city on the outskirts of Yosemite, in the Central Valley. Noreen completed her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) with a Bachelor of Science in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior and minor in religious studies. Her ultimate goal is to become a clinical academic working in the sub-specialty of Obstetrics and Gynecology but, after her experiences volunteering in the clinical setting for three years, she developed a passion for studying more holistic approaches to the practice of medicine. Her interest in studying spirituality, theology, and health in tandem brought her to Durham University and upon graduation plans to enroll in medical school to build upon the work she completes here over the course of this year.

As a member of St. John’s College, Noreen is the MCR Secretary and member of the women’s rugby team. She is also a part of the university’s improv comedy club, ShellShock!, and the Latin Social Dance Society. When she is not in seminars, reading, or improvising, she enjoys walking around Durham seeking out interesting facts and stories surrounding the city’s history, a “Durquest” if you will.

St John's College, Durham is a recognised College of Durham University and incorporates Cranmer Hall. Charity No. 1141701 Limited Company No. 113496 (England and Wales) VAT No. 334 6364 57.