12th – 14th December 2022

VENUE: Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Great Park, SL4 2HP


Application form


What does a writing retreat involve?

The structured writing retreats are designed to provide the opportunities to write and work on outputs, in an optimal environment. The writing model is based on the structured-writing retreat format (Murray and Newton, 2009). The aim of the programme is very much to provide and enforce research/writing time, in a relaxed, supportive, and peaceful group environment. Desks are well spaced out, while writing together, during prescribed time-slots.

While it is a non-surveillance environment with regards to what you do, there are some rules. The first is that you are sitting down and ready to write at the start of each session. The second is that mobile phones are put away out of sight (and sound), and you DO NOT check email or use the internet during the writing sessions (we would recommend no Internet for complete immersion). Research has shown that the retreats are most productive if relevant article searching and downloading has been done in advance. The final rule is that research work/writing is carried out in silence (or with headphones that do not produce sound that could disturb other writers).

This writing retreat will be run by Dr Alison Eardley (School of Social Sciences) and Dr Sally-Shakti Willow (Writing & Thriving in Higher Education) who are trained writing retreat facilitators. The retreats are designed to provide a restful and relaxing space to write, meet other PhD researchers and talk about research and life outside PhDs. We all write together in a dedicated room, and you will write during specific timed sessions, and take breaks at specific times.

The writing retreat programme will include optional pre-lunch walks (bring waterproofs!), and yoga sessions (optional) led by Dr Sally-Shakti Willow who is a qualified yoga instructor. Optional holistic relaxation sessions are also offered, led by Dr Lisa Matthewman who is a Chartered and Registered Psychologist & accredited coach. For anyone who doesn’t want to walk/do yoga/holistic relaxation, you also have your private room to retire to or you can enjoy the various recreational activities offered by Cumberland Lodge.

View the room where the writing retreat will take place

There is a socket under the desk for each participant (for laptops) and extensions for students to spread out.

Find out more about Sally-Shakti’s work: Writing & Thriving in Higher Education


The writing room is large and airy and all attendees will have space between them while writing.

While face masks are no longer a government requirement, the venue asks that residents consider wearing one while moving around the building. As part of the UK Government’s ‘Living with COVID’ plan, which aims to get the nation back to normality while the virus is ongoing, we are all expected to exercise personal responsibility. While face masks are no longer mandatory, the venue will be encouraging guests to consider wearing them in public areas of the building and are asking staff to do the same.

Although it is no longer a legal requirement, public health advice remains to isolate for five days if you contract the virus – so that you don’t spread it to the most vulnerable in society. If you are due to visit the Lodge but are feeling unwell and experiencing cold/flu-like symptoms, please do not attend unless you have been able to carry out a rapid lateral flow test and the result is negative.

If you are offered a place, but find you are exhibiting covid-19 symptoms (a new continuous cough, a high temperature or loss or change to your sense of smell or taste) or have been in direct contact with someone who is exhibiting covid-19 symptoms and are not vaccinated, you will not be able to join us. We will operate a waiting list, both for other PhD researchers who would like to attend, and for any candidates in the writing-up phase.

If you fall ill while staying here at the Lodge, we recommend you contact your group leader and stay in your bedroom. The venue has a supply of rapid lateral flow tests on site and can get one to you immediately. If you test positive you will be asked to vacate and make your way home.

The Venue

Cumberland Lodge is a historic 17th century venue, beautifully decorated and furnished and offering spaces and activities for your free time plus excellent dining (all food is included in your stay). Cumberland Lodge is set in the beautiful and peaceful surroundings of Windsor Great Park. Cumberland Lodge is a magnificent former royal residence in the heart of Windsor Great Park has been the home of an educational charity since 1947. In that year, they were granted a Royal Warrant by King George VI, to use the building as a residential centre where university students could gather to explore topics outside the narrow confines of a degree course – particularly ethical and societal issues. Throughout the year, they host subsidised study retreats for university departments and other higher education institutions, from all over the UK.

Read more about the venue.

Read more about the recreational activities offered at the venue


Cumberland Lodge is easily accessible. View and download travel directions.

Retreat places are funded but attendees will need to claim back travel costs from the Graduate School after the Retreat (there is free parking onsite for anyone wishing to drive). Travel expenses cover your journey from London to the venue.

Please do not book travel more than a few days in advance, to mitigate against the possibility of last-minute changes because of Covid.

Allocation of Places

There is an application process. We will have a waiting list, in case of last minute Covid-related cancellations/increased capacity because of changes in the Covid regulations. Whatever the stage of your PhD, please do feel free to apply.

Priority will be given to people who feel that the retreat will impact positively on their PhD writing and on their wellbeing, so please do consider applying, whatever the stage of your research project.

If there are more applicants than places, the application form will help the Graduate School to allocate places. The questions they will focus on will be (in order of importance):

  1. a) How the retreat will benefit your wellbeing
    b) What piece of PhD writing you want to work on and why
    c) How the opportunity will benefit your PhD journey.

Please submit your application by: Deadline TBA


Winter Retreat Timetable

Day 1:  Monday 12 December 2022

10.00am Arrival

On arrival, you will be welcomed by Cumberland Lodge staff, given electronic passes for your rooms and external doors. When everyone is signed in, a member of staff will give a short talk about domestic arrangements. Wi-Fi is available throughout the buildings and rooms (no password required).

10.30am – Start: Introductions and writing session 1

11.45pm – Break

12.00pm – Writing session 2

1.00 pm – Lunch

2.00pm – Writing session 2

3.30pm – Break

4.00pm – 5.30pm Writing session 3

5.45-6.45pm – Optional yoga/movement

6.45-7.15 Optional holistic relaxation including mindfulness

7.15pm – Dinner

Day 2: Tuesday 13 December 2022

8am – Breakfast (arrive when you choose but make sure you are at your desk ready to write at 8.30am)

8.30am – Writing session 1

10.15am – Break

10.45am – Writing session 2

12pm – Walk (optional)

1pm – Lunch

2pm – writing session 3

3.30pm – tea break

4.00pm – 5.30pm Writing session 4

5.45-6.45pm – Optional yoga/movement

6.45-7.15 Optional holistic relaxation including mindfulness

7.15pm – Dinner


Day 3: Wednesday 14 December 2022

On the day of departure, you will be asked to vacate all rooms by 9am, to enable the housekeepers to prepare them for the next arrivals.  You will be advised by staff of where you can leave your luggage. Please also ensure that all electronic passes are returned to Reception or placed in the ‘drop-in’ boxes by the main entrances to the Lodge and Mews before you leave, The list of room allocations and a plan of the campus is on the noticeboard at Reception.

7am – Optional yoga/movement (45 minutes)

8am – Breakfast

8.30am – Writing session 1

10.15am – Break

10.45am – Writing session 2

12pm – Optional Walk

1pm – Lunch

2pm – writing session 3

3.30pm – tea break/ end of retreat round up

4pm – end of retreat/taxis to the station

University of Westminster
309 Regent Street, London W1B 2UW
General enquiries: +44 (0)20 7911 5000
Course enquiries: +44 (0)20 7915 5511

The University of Westminster is a charity and a company limited by guarantee.
Registration number: 977818 England
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