Programme Structure


Year 1
Year 2
Year 3
Year 4
  • Goals of Year 1

    There two periods: a 'foundation period' and a 'research period'.

    The goals of the foundation period:

    • Training in research methodology scientific evaluation, experimental design, and statistical methods.
    • Introduction to the current research activity of the CDT division and the School.
    • Detailed study of three programme units at Master of Science level: two ‘foundation’ programme units and one ‘advanced’programme unit.
    • Introduction to research by carrying out a ‘taster project’

    The goals of the research period are:

    • To select a PhD topic and supervisor(s)
    • To start to undertake the supervised PhD research.
    • Training in professional scientific writing and literature skills, creativity and innovation and impact evaluation.
    • A research proposal, a significant literature survey and an impact survey on the assigned PhD topic.

    Structure of Year 1

    The foundation period comprises the first 21 weeks of each program: weeks 0-12 in the Autumn term ending in December term and weeks 13-20 in the Spring term, starting in January. During this foundation period, CDT students will not yet have finalised their choice of PhD topic and will not have been assigned a formal PhD supervisor. Instead each student will have an advisor who will guide them through the initial phases of the program and help them to choose or finalise their research topic. By week 21 of Year 1, each student will have chosen a research topic and been allocated a PhD supervisor.

    Introduction Week:

    Each student is assigned an advisor and makes a training plan in consultation with this advisor. The plan requires a choice of three Master’s programme units to be taken during the foundation period. Research group leaders and/or other researchers are available for consultations about the choice of options that are appropriate for particular kinds of research.

    Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1-5)

    All students take two ‘foundation programme units’ (CU1) and (CU2), and attend a series of seminars outlining current research within the School.

    Research Symposium (week 6)

    CDT foundation students attend a School Research Symposium at which presentations and posters will outline ongoing research programs. This is an opportunity to meet more senior research students and their PhD supervisors.

    Teaching Block 2 (weeks 7-12)

    All CDT foundation students take one Advanced programme unit (ACU) and the following lecture course:

    • Scientific Methods 1: fundamental aspects of research methodology.

    Assessments (weeks 13-14 - beginning of Spring term)

    CDT students are assessed on their work undertaken in Teaching Blocks 1 and 2.

    Poster session/Open Day (during weeks 13-14)

    CDT students now have a further opportunity to meet potential PhD supervisors to prepare for making a choice of PhD topic.

    Teaching Block 3 (weeks 15 – 20)

    CDT students carry out a short ‘taster’ research project, and also take the following lecture course:

    • Scientific Methods 2: rudiments of scientific evaluation, experimental design and statistical methods

    Creativity Workshop (during week 20 or a little later)

    A residential workshop.

    Teaching Block 4 (week 21 to end of Year 1)

    Each CDT student is now assigned a PhD topic and supervisor(s) and starts to undertake the supervised PhD research. Concurrently, all students also take the following lecture course:

    • ‘Scientific Methods 3: scientific methods and impact studies’

    The purpose of this course is to provide training in the writing of research papers and proposals, the structuring of research programs and the planning and execution of impact surveys. An understanding of what leads to ‘impact’ in research will be engendered with the aid of case studies exemplifying previous research projects which were successful and others which were unsuccessful in generating significant impact.

    End of Year 1 Assessment (before end of first year)

    By the end of the first year, CDT students are expected to have produced a substantial literature survey, impact survey and a clear summary of their research aims, objectives and anticipated methodology. A report on these aspects of their work must be written for assessment by the supervisor and an independent second reader. This assessment and the results of the previous assessments are considered by an ‘End of Year 1’ Assessment Panel.

    Outcome of the End of Year 1 Assessment

    The normal outcome will be to pass into year 2. Students are allowed to resit one Foundation or Advanced programme unit, but must have reached a pass on all three programme units before entering into Year 2. The examiners will take into account all aspects of a student's performance in deciding whether the student can continue into Year 2.

  • Structure of year 4

    Research Symposium

    All Year 4 CDT students give seminars on their research to colleagues, fellow postgraduate students and staff within the School.

    Final six-months

    CDT students must complete the writing of their theses during this period. Theses must be submitted before the end of Year 4.

    Skills training

    Skills training is available to further support the planning of this year the continuing advancement of writing and presentation skills, career planning and job applications. 

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