This 4-year programme has a 1+3 structure. In the first year three mini-rotation projects count towards an MRes degree. Towards the end of the first year students select a specific 3-year PhD project with two supervisors providing complementary expertise, and prepare a detailed research proposal before commencing the PhD project itself in years 2-4.
A fundamental aim of the programme is to ensure that all students gain significant knowledge and awareness of the potential power of various different experimental approaches in both metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.
First (MRes) year
Course introduction and orientation
The first two weeks are devoted to induction and orientation, and to introducing programme supervisors and their areas of research.
In addition, you will participate in Induction Courses, including safety courses and research governance, and be introduced to students already at the MRL in social events organised by the Student Committee.
A major component of the first year is a series of three mini-projects in different laboratories, selected so that you gain experience of different experimental approaches and at least two different working environments (i.e. different buildings and Departments). Each rotation will last for 11 weeks, following which you prepare a written report or poster presentation for formal assessment and feedback.
The aims of the rotations are:
- to enable you to participate in a cross-section of research in different laboratories
- to give training in a variety of technical approaches
- to develop skills in leadership, data presentation, etc
Alongside your lab rotations you participate in a year-long course designed to provide a critical understanding of major topics and techniques in Obesity, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Biology. All the investigators associated with the programme participate in this course, which consists of weekly ‘hot topics’ sessions together with modules focussing on experimental techniques.
The aims of the core course are:
- to provide a framework for learning fundamental aspects and of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease
- to generate awareness of current research activity and key issues
- to develop critical evaluation skills
Throughout the year there will be a variety of different skills based courses designed to give training in different technical approaches or to develop specific skills. Some of these will be organised by particular departments or institutes in which you are working, and others by the Graduate School of Life Sciences.
You are expected to attend research seminars in the department or institute where you undertake your mini-project rotations or PhD project. In the Institute of Metabolic Science, for instance, there are two series of weekly seminars, one focusing on work in progress at the IMS, the other with distinguished external invited speakers.
In July each year, students at the Institute organise a symposium for all students based at the institute to present their work in a supportive environment.
Choosing your PhD project
Your decision about the project you wish to pursue for your PhD should be made by early June of your first year following discussion with prospective supervisors. Once the decision is finalised you will spend several weeks researching the background to the topic and writing a research proposal in the general form of a grant application, which forms part of the assessment at the end of the first year.
The PhD research project
The PhD research project occupies years 2-4, and constitutes the main research component of the programme. Throughout this time will be expected to continue to develop your subject-specific and generic skills, to attend research seminars and present your work at local, national and international meetings.
The MRes degree is assessed towards the end of the first year (and awarded as a simple pass/fail), by internal and external examiners based on written work and a viva examination. Students must successfully complete the MRes and be accepted into a lab for doctoral research to continue to the PhD.
At the start of the second year, registration for the PhD proper is initially probationary (as with all PhDs in the University) and continuation of the project is dependent on satisfactory performance. Towards the end of the fourth year of the programme (the third year of your PhD project) you will write a substantial dissertation for assessment for the PhD.