At the start of the year new students have an extensive two-week induction programme that features events at all of the consortium institutions and allowing opportunities to explore their facilities, hear presentations on available projects and to meet potential supervisors.
In the first year each student undertakes two 4-month rotation projects (October-January, February-May). During the rotation year a student will get to experience two different LIDo consortium partners.
All rotation projects represent a clearly defined and significant fraction of the work proposed for an entire PhD project. As a result, a rotation project is an authentic sample of the work expected for the PhD. Consequently our students can reassure themselves of the scientific merit of the project, the quality of the research environment, available resources, the strengths of the supervisory team and their own capacity to pursue the investigation.
At the end of each rotation students produce a 5000-word report and present their work via poster or oral presentation to their supervisors and peers at a mini-symposium. These presentation days also serve as a popular inter-cohort social event.
The majority of our students select a PhD project associated with one of their two rotation projects, although this is not a requirement. LIDo students join their PhD lab for the remainder of the first year following their second rotation.
Friday afternoons in the first year are dedicated to the SysMIC course, a high quality eLearning program that delivers training in fundamental and advanced mathematical, computational and statistical techniques for interdisciplinary and systems biology researchers.
Importantly, because many of the course developers are part of the programme, a faster- paced and enriched version of the course has been developed for our DTP students. Additional face-to-face sessions allow for demonstration, collective study, interaction and discussion with the creators of the course. Over 6 months, students move through the SysMIC Basic Skills Module 1 onto Advanced topics and applications Module 2. A third optional module, based on project work investigating a specific biological problem, opens to students when they progress to their PhD projects and can be tailored to specifically support their research projects.
In addition to SysMIC training students will choose between two further training courses.
The first course option, entitled Principles of Biology (PoB), aims to further our students understanding of biological systems. PoB features a wide sweep of topics in modern biosciences and aims to expand the horizons and interests on graduate life scientists or provide a biological foundation for students with previous experience in other disciplines.
The second course option, entitled Bio-Industry explores the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries via a learning and teaching focus on the selected literature: an industry expert speaker will also attend each session to discuss their views on particular aspects of these industries. The masterclasses feature topics such as industry history and trends, structure and business models, alliance/collaboration and risk, regulation and ethics, public perception and communications. Networking with the guest speakers, and tips on accessing industrial careers are also a feature of this course module.
From Year 2 of the programme students are dedicated to their PhD projects.
All students on the programme attend the Annual retreat. This residential event allows students to present talks on their research, enjoy additional skills training, discuss career information and share updates on cutting-edge research and technical developments.
The DTP facilitates the event but the student organising committee plans all activities for each retreat. Inter-cohort relations are further supported with annual Christmas Parties, Summer BBQs and other opportunities for interaction.
The BBSRC mandate that all students funded in this programme take part in the Professional Internship for PhD Students (PIPS) scheme. This involves a three-month work experience placement that can be undertaken with any organisation in the public or privates sectors in the UK or abroad according to student interest and a suitable agreement with the host. The only stipulation is that the work must be in an area demonstrably unrelated to the student's research project. The timing of the internships has a degree of flexibility, taking place during the second or third year of the PhD, (months 18 to 36). This is considered to be the most beneficial time. Further details on PIPS programme including case studies and video reports can be found on the Employability page and the UCL Careers webpage.
Students who join the DTP on iCASE studentships will be undertaking their PhD research within collaborations between one of our consortium institutions and a partner organisation.
iCASE students will not undertake rotations during their first year, instead starting immediately on their PhD project. They will also not be required to undertake PIPS as the studentship includes a compulsory placement at the non-academic partner, which can range from 3 to 18 months
All iCASE students take both SysMIC and Bioindustry as training elements in their first year.