Teaching and supervision during your research
Supervisors of research students are members of the permanent academic staff. Some experienced Research Fellows and Associates, as well as members of other Schools, may also be involved in co-supervision. Joint supervision is generally encouraged so as to provide students with a greater source of expert guidance. In addition to frequent informal meetings, supervisors hold formal planning meetings with each of their students every three months.
Induction and General Skills Training
At the beginning of their first year, all students attend a 4-day Induction Course during which they meet research staff and are introduced to facilities available in the School and University. Postgraduate students' transferable skills are enhanced through participation in the Graduate Development Scheme which involves
(i) a two-day introductory workshop on scientific research in practice,
(ii) a Training Needs Analysis,
(iii) construction of a Personal Development Plan, and
(iv) participation in selected Training Workshops. Throughout their periods of study, research students take part in an active seminar programme and many gain experience in teaching through demonstrating in laboratory and field classes.
In addition to general skills training, the PhD programme in our School includes some taught courses that aim to provide formal training in specialist techniques and advanced knowledge relevant to an individual student's research.
Monitoring of Progress
We regard the monitoring of student progress as a high priority and indeed both NERC and HEFCE set great store by this when they are considering future levels of funding. Initial registration is either for an MPhil or Direct Entry to PhD. In both cases a substantial progress report must be submitted at the end of the first year in order to apply for continuation of PhD registration. This report is examined by both the supervisor and another staff member who interview the student before recommending transfer (or an alternative such as completion of an MPhil).
Advisors and Mentors
Each postgraduate student has, in addition to his/her supervisor(s), an experienced member of staff appointed as an advisor. This is someone entirely independent of the project, available for consultation on any subject (academic, professional or personal) and with whom regular meetings are held. Any matters arising concerning the research or other aspects of progress are discussed and remedial action taken where necessary. In addition, each new student is assigned a mentor on arrival; this is a postgraduate student who has already been in the School for at least a year and who 'knows the ropes'. Mentors help new students by showing them around, answering questions, and generally acting as informal contacts in the first few months.
Dialogue between staff and postgraduate research students occurs through a Staff-Student Liaison Committee which deals with general issues and concerns. Every year, research student volunteers are sought to act as representatives. There is normally at least one research student representative for each year of study. A postgraduate student also represents the School on Faculty panels and committees.