In 1997, two philosophy postgraduates at Sheffield University, Ewan McEachran and Simon Kirchin, decided that a general, national postgraduate conference was needed to overcome the sometimes isolating and daunting reality of postgraduate study. They wanted to establish an event at which students could meet their peers, discuss academic and non-academic topics of mutual interest, create contacts and friendships, and return to their particular universities invigorated by others’ research and studies and inspired in their own.
The first annual conference was held in Sheffield in 1997 under the name, The National Postgraduate Analytic Philosophy Conference, or NPAPC. The first NPAPC was such an outstanding success that the conference – now called the BIPPA Annual Conference – became a yearly fixture and has travelled to a different university each year since then; recent venues include Bristol, Cambridge, Warwick, York, and Newcastle. This year, for the first time, the conference will be held in the Republic of Ireland, in Dublin. The aims of the BIPPA Annual Conference today remain largely unchanged from the original aims of 1997: to provide a broad forum for the presentation and discussion of quality postgraduate philosophy, and to foster contacts between students from different universities. It’s usually a very friendly and refreshing event, with lively socialising and excellent papers from some of Britain’s top philosophy students.
In 2000, an association was formed to coordinate the smooth running of the Annual Conference and ensure that essential know-how is passed down from year to year. The National Postgraduate Philosophy Association, as it came to be called, was tremendously successful. From these beginnings the British Postgraduate Philosophy Association (BPPA) was formed, and it has now been in operation for over two decades. In 2022, the Executive Committee of the BPPA approved a change in the name of the association, the second of this kind in its history, and decided that it should be known as the British and Irish Postgraduate Philosophy Association.
While our conferences and masterclasses are still at the core of our project, we are increasingly paying attention to issues of diversity, decolonisation, and the representation of minority groups in postgraduate-level philosophy. At the same time, the need for active representation across British and Irish postgraduate philosophy remains a top priority of the association, and we seek to provide an inter-university forum for discussion about key issues in philosophy and postgraduate study. You can find our constitution here: BIPPA Constitution.