The Graduate Programme is provided by the Department of Psychology within the framework offered by the Graduate School of Life Sciences. The Graduate School also monitors Departmental efforts to ensure best practice. This includes specification of minimum supervision requirements and monitoring of the supervision effort by the Graduate Tutor in the Department.
The aims of the Graduate Skills Training Programme are to develop the necessary subject-specific skills for research in Psychology and to inculcate a range of transferable skills that also prepare the student for research more generally. As a result of this training the student is expected to be able to:
· Design experiments, collect data and analyse the results
· Have an appreciation of the historical, ethical and scientific context of their research
· Have a grasp of the relevant research literature
· Report both orally and in writing on their research in an effective manner to both scientific and more general non-specialist audiences
· Have a detailed understanding of the requirements for progression to a PhD
· Be aware of the arrangements for graduate training and supervision
· Have had some contact with broader applications of their skills, e.g. in industry, administration and commerce
· Submit a satisfactory research report at the end of their first year. The research contained within this should be of sufficient quality to prepare a student for a PhD in that area. It requires the student to obtain a knowledge of the relevant literature and to plan a research programme focussed on a suitable issue using that knowledge. They are also expected to carry out sufficient pilot work by way of experiments to demonstrate the viability of the techniques that they propose to use in the research. The report should be approximately 5000 words in length and has a weight of 50% in the assessment, with the other 50% evaluated via the student log which records the skills training the student has received.
Each graduate student is expected to engage in approximately 10 days (or equivalent) of skills training per year for the first three years. This training covers a wide range of activities such as attendance at courses and seminars, writing reports, presenting their research etc, which are described in more detail below. The training is recorded in the student log in the form of credits, with one credit being the equivalent of a half-day of training. Therefore, each student should aim to achieve a total of 60 credits over the course of three years, with a minimum of 20 credits to be earned in the first year to meet the registration requirement.
Although students will attend many courses/seminars in their first year, it is not essential for them to complete all their skills training during this time. Courses should be selected according to the specific needs of the student at that time and it may be that attendance at some courses, such as statistics or programming, are more relevant in the student’s second or third year. The student is encouraged to discuss the various options with his/her supervisor at the start of each year to ensure the training is tailored to his/her particular needs.
The programme of skills training consists of a compulsory core element and various options.
The compulsory core elements are:
· University safety course (1 credit)
· Department induction programme (2 credits)
· Graduate school introductory symposium (1 credit)
· Graduate seminar series (1 credit per 2 seminars)
· Preparation of the first year report and viva (8 credits in total)
In addition to these compulsory course elements, students take options from the wide variety of courses offered by the School, for example: courses on business development and exploitation of research (http://www.biomed.cam.ac.uk/gradschool/). Students also have the opportunity to take courses offered by the Department, the MRC-Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit (MRC-CBU) and other departments in the University. As a complement to the course structure already outlined students are required to attend Departmental seminars. The requirement is attendance at a minimum of 10 external seminars (Zangwill Club, Chaucer Club, Behavioural Neuroscience, SDP Seminars) and 10 internal (lab) seminars per year. Students are expected to give at least one presentation in the appropriate internal seminar series themselves (4 credits).
All the seminars, courses, research, coursework and Departmental seminars attended / given should be recorded by the student in their log. Meetings with the student's supervisor (minimum of one per term) to discuss progress in course work and research are also recorded in the student log book, as are meetings with the student's advisor (minimum of one per year). These meetings are a formal requirement, and in addition to other informal meetings that may take place. The supervisor will submit a termly CamGRAD report for each graduate student commenting on the progress of the student.
The supervisor oversees the production of the first year report. This is one of the most important components of the training programme, and without satisfactory completion of a first year report students will either not be registered to continue with the PhD or their registration may be delayed. The first year report is examined internally by the supervisor and one or two assessors, each of whom write a brief report and make a pass/fail recommendation. One assessor may be the student’s advisor but in cases where the graduate student is embedded in a research group, the assessor must be from outside that immediate group. The supervisor discusses the content of the first year report and any comments the assessor(s) made with the student in a brief oral examination. The supervisor will then write a CamGRAD report indicating whether the student is recommended for registration. The reports are submitted with a copy of the first year report and the student log to the Chair of the Departmental Graduate Education Committee (Graduate Tutor) for evaluation. If this is satisfactory, and the minimum requirements outlined here have been met, then this normally leads to registration for the PhD.
Assessment is by means of the first year report and an oral examination which also evaluates the student’s understanding of the coursework taken during the year. The log recording the seminars and courses attended by the student is also evaluated to ensure compliance with course requirements. Reports and the log are considered by the Departmental Graduate Education Committee (DGEC) which then makes a pass / fail recommendation. To ensure continuous assessment throughout the course, students are also asked to submit a one-page progress report at the end of their second year to the DGEC, which summarises their research to date with a brief description of their plans for the following year.
First year reports