Over the past few years the UK’s higher education funding councils have put more emphasis on the ‘training’ element in postgraduate degree programmes. They require that research students (that is PhD students; our MPhil has training elements already built into it) receive appropriate and relevant preparation and training both to complete a high-quality doctoral thesis in their chosen subject area and to develop a range of knowledge, understanding and skills necessary for their future employment, whatever that might be. These latter are known as ‘transferable skills’ or ‘core generic skills’ (and include items such as oral and written presentation skills, and project design and management), but that does not mean that they won’t be useful to you now: they, as well as more subject-specific knowledge, understanding and skills, will help you conduct your research, write up your thesis, and take you onto the next stage of your career.
This preparation and training takes place in a range of forums and contexts, from Faculty research seminars to national (or international) conferences, from training courses run at a School or University level to events organised by the UK Research Councils through Vitae (www.vitae.ac.uk). In order to try to guide you through this variety the Classics Faculty has come up with a basic training framework outlined below. This identifies the kinds of subject specific events and general training courses that will be particularly useful over the course of your PhD. It is up to you, in discussion with your supervisor, to determine the particular package most suited to your needs and interests, and each year you will, together with your supervisor, draw up a personal programme (or Personal Development Plan (PDP) to use the current jargon) of the seminars and courses you plan to attend, and keep a record of all those you do attend (and what you got out of them). Training should not be overlooked, or put off, you should start thinking about it now, building up the knowledge, understanding and skills necessary for your research and career, throughout your studies.
In line with the RCUK recommendations we expect Year 1 research students to undergo around 10 days training over the year, and Year 2 and 3 students around 8 days, covering both core generic and subject-specific skills and knowledge. The rough shape of each year is set out below, as well as some of the training courses most appropriate to it, but this is for you to think about and plan, in discussion with your supervisor, and in relation to your specific needs and goals.
Year 1: Getting Started
The focus this year is on getting started on your research project, thinking about its shape and structure; identifying and acquiring the key research skills necessary; the various resources available; participating in seminars…
(a) IT—electronic resources for research;
(b) Specific research skills you may need—e.g. palaeography, epigraphy, statistics,GISetc;
(c) Language training if required (see further the Language Centre's graduate training page)
(d) Generic research skills—project design and management etc;
(e) Core generic skills—e.g. presentation skills;
(f) Research seminars;
(g) Graduate Interdisciplinary Seminars;
(h) Training in small group teaching.
Key School/University Courses: ‘Starting your PhD’; ‘Time Management’; ‘Presenting’; ‘Starting to Write for your PhD’; ‘Supervising and Small Group Teaching’
The School also offers one to one ‘Skills analysis’ sessions (a 30 minute session designed to help the participant evaluate their current skill levels and identify the particular areas they wish to focus on).
Year 2: Consolidating and Presenting
This year you might like to think more about presenting your work: to the Graduate Interdisciplinary Seminar, Faculty Seminars, and beyond (especially at national post-graduate conferences in your subject); and about developing your teaching skills; as well as consolidating and developing your research, your writing, more broadly…
(a) IT—for presenting and teaching as well as research;
(b) Further specific skills identified in Year 1;
(d) Writing papers and presenting research;
(e) Research Seminars;
(f) Graduate Interdisciplinary Seminars.
School/University courses: ‘Presentation skills’; ‘Lecturing skills’; ‘Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference’
Year 3: Finishing up and Moving On
This year you might like to consider giving papers at national and international conferences; and as well as pushing to finish the thesis, you need to make plans for what happens next…
(b) Careers Advice;
(c) Developing post-doctoral research projects;
(d) Presenting at national and international conferences;
(e) Research seminars;
(f) Graduate Interdisciplinary Seminars.
(g) Organising a Conference.
School/University courses: ‘Completing your PhD’; ‘Applying for post-doctoral grants and fellowships’; ‘Editing your academic writing’
Further Links and Information