- Database of practice
- Training provision for graduate students in the Graduate School of Life Sciences, University of Cambridge: a range of courses and learning events for graduate students, covering project specific and transferable skills.
Training provision for graduate students in the Graduate School of Life Sciences, University of Cambridge: a range of courses and learning events for graduate students, covering project specific and transferable skills.
- University of Cambridge
- East of England
- Date first submitted:
- 30 Jul 2007
- Date last modified:
- 23 Dec 2009
- Personal effectiveness
- Research project skills
- Academic practice
- Enterprise-related activities
- Career development
- Postgraduate researchers
- Research staff
- Research masters
Rationale, aims and outcomes
What is the rationale for doing this?
How does it fit with institutional strategy?
What are the main features of the provision?
What are the aims and expected outcomes?
We keep in mind that transferable skills training may be generic, but it is there to help individuals. This is reflected in three major aspects of our practice. i) other than the induction course that introduces the student to transferable skills, none of our extensive range of courses are compulsory across the school. The student is encouraged to develop a balanced personal learning plan in discussion with supervisors, utilising detailed course specific information on our web site; ii) We use subject specific trainers and content, in order to give students courses that they understand and relate to; iii) We encourage student led practices, from student run colloquia to public engagement opportunities.
The Graduate School of Life Sciences is one of the leading providers of graduate training courses in the University. The opportunity will be taken to use this as a template for the rest of the University with the appointment of a new Director of Graduate Education. With the creation of this post, the activities of the Graduate School will be enacted into the Statutes and Ordinances of the University. We currently provide courses that cover all of the Roberts agenda training categories. In addition to serving graduate students, post-doctoral researchers are provided for by a dedicated careers officer (see www.vitae.ac.uk/dop/494.html).
The Graduate School has been offering courses since 2000, for two University School - Biological Sciences (includes Veterinary Medicine) and Clinical Medicine, as well as a number of local Non University Institutions. The courses are available to all graduate students, whether studying for an MPhil or a PhD. The main features are: 1) A compulsory introductory course that introduces new graduate students to post-graduate study and the University of Cambridge. It also outlines the various courses available to them and highlights their benefits for career development. 2) A training needs analysis conducted by student and supervisor. This is limited by a minimum requirement for 10 days per year of training, supported by a credit system. 3) A broad range of courses covering project specific and transferable skills. 4) A website that allows graduate students to browse, choose and book courses according to their needs. 5) A mechanism for collecting feedback and monitoring quality for each course. 6) A Graduate Education Committee that provides strategic direction for courses provision. Some highlights of provision are described elsewhere in this website.
Graduate students are expected to put 10 days per year into transferable skills training. Our aims are to produce students who are expertly trained in their field of research, but also trained to be adaptable to any career path they subsequently choose. It is seen as important that students are aware of, and confident in, the skills that they have gained.
Are there any pre-requisites for engagement, e.g. levels of skill, years of experience, essential pre-activities?
How many participate in each 'activity'?
Some of the more advanced bioinformatics, statistics, computing, entrepreneurship and other courses require that students have attended introductory sessions beforehand.
Numbers of participants we can accommodate vary between 15 and 150 students, but most courses are small group and take around 20 students. There are approximately 1400 students in the Schools of Biological Sciences and Clinical Medicine; 1100 have attended courses organised by our Graduate School in 06-07.
Evaluation: benefits, challenges and next steps
How do you monitor effectiveness?
Who do you seek feedback from?
Do you have benchmarks?
The benefit of providing graduate training at School level, as opposed to departmental, is that it is more efficient in terms of value for money, and in terms of accessibility to students across the School. In addition, it provides a template for a more strategic effort to set up similar graduate training schemes in other Schools in the University. We feel that our graduate students are some of the best trained scientists in the world, but by giving them access to transferable skills training we augment their scientific skills, as well as giving them the skills to branch out into other career paths should they desire.
Ensuring that all Roberts codes are covered, that courses are relevant, that students are well advised on what courses to take. Also ensuring that training at departmental level is provided if appropriate, and at School level if not.
Our provision is under continuous review, and in the last year we have introcuced the compulsory induction course (see xxx); a new bioethics course (yyy); advanced modules on entrepreneurship taught by the Judge Business School and revisions of several other courses. In the next year a further full time trainer will be employed and we shall be introducing a course on the clinical environment for researchers in basic sciences; a revised introductory course in entrepreneurship; further Inter-institute student led colloquia; modifications to our outreach poster course and a second local grad school. We are also starting to work on becoming "2011 proof"