Structured doctoral training programmes in the UK

The traditional model for doctoral training has been based on the student-supervisor relationship, where the doctoral supervisor acts as mentor to the new researcher.This model still stands but in most cases in the UK it is supplemented by additional training and/or mentoring offered by the university or research institute.

Two key developments in UK doctoral programmes have been the establishment of graduate schools and structured doctoral training. These approaches offer doctoral candidates access to a structured programme including taught courses and professional development training aimed at enhancing their employability in or outside research. These approaches also encourage collegiality between doctoral researchers and often interdisciplinary working.

Graduate schools are now common in UK institutions and provide training in research skills and other support for postgraduates either across a whole institution or within a faculty.

Researchers funded by the UK Research Councils or other research funders, such as the Wellcome Trust are likely to experience a structured doctoral training programme. The main structured doctoral programmes in the UK are Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP), which usually involve a consortium of institutions and research institutions, and Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT), which are focused on a particular research area, often located within one institution.

Although there has been recent growth in structured doctoral training, not all doctoral candidates in an institution will be part of such a programme. Additional development opportunities can be a valuable addition to a doctoral programme and it's worth finding out what's likely to be available to you when looking into research degree opportunities.