Elements of the Training

There are three main elements to the PhD training:

  1. Bespoke Partnership training:
    1. 2 residential schools
    2. Cohort building
    3. Student networking
    4. Exposure to food security issues outside specific research project
  2. Interaction with supervisors, fellow researchers and technicians
  3. Locally delivered training

Bespoke Partnership Training

Bespoke DTP training is delivered through two residential schools per year. Training in this form brings the DTP students together as a cohort, building strong networks between students and exposing them to food security issues outside of their research specialism. Supervisors actively participate in the residential schools, further strengthening the networks and collaboration between the partners. Training is supplemented with lectures delivered in the evenings by leading experts in food security and new ways of working.

Residential Schools

Photograph of students in a seminar looking to the left

The first residential school emphasises the subject specific knowledge base including skills for new ways of working such as data visualisation & next generation sequencing; as well as core bioscience skills such as statistics, experimental design and mathematical skills. An active learning approach to training is adopted with a mix of seminars, practical workshops, problem-based study groups, and group presentations. Problem-based study groups are used to develop understanding of an iterative approach to applied modelling in biological systems and cross-disciplinary thinking: problems are presented at the start of the week with teams comprising mathematicians and biologists devising solutions over the week which are then presented back to the group at the end of the week. The partners are experienced in delivering an understanding of new ways of working through this method. This approach enables & encourages sharing of problems and exposes students to alternative approaches that they can embed in their research.

The second of the residential schools exposes students to the breadth of food security research and niche skills through a student symposium in which all students present their work and receive feedback from peers. Schools augment, in a subject specific environment, the generic training in domains B-D of the Research Development Framework (RDF) that is provided by the generic & employability skills training, with activities such as mock interviews, elevator pitches, and creative thinking.


Students have opportunities to work with enthusiastic, supportive and internationally competitive research groups. Each student enters lively and active research groups consisting of a number of postdoctoral and postgraduate students. Each student receives desk space within open plan offices that integrate with other postgraduate students, providing an informal mechanism for day to day interaction between students on a local level.

Students also play an active part in research group meetings run by the host supervisor. These take the form of informal discussion sessions concerning ongoing research or published work including presentations by postgraduate students, and provide students with the opportunity to interact with a range of researchers. Students are encouraged to participate in the research group meetings of their co-supervisors during the compulsory placements to their labs.

Locally delivered training

Elements of the subject specific knowledge base not covered by the first residential school is delivered locally. This completes the development of the technical skills necessary for a modern bio-scientist together with any niche skills and core-bioscience skills necessary for their PhD. Students are given access to relevant Masters and Advanced Training Partnership modules appropriate to individual needs and all students are required to undertake the 1st module of the BBSRC SysMIC course as part of their first year of studies.