Student Training and Development

There is a range of training provision offered by the department and wider University which covers research, academic and transferable (career) skills.  The information below summarises the main courses and providers which students are likely to find useful.

Students are expected to take responsibility for shaping their own training, supported by their supervisor.  However, please note:

  • it is recommended that students undertake approximately 100 hours of ‘broadening’ training: courses which are designed to broaden the student’s knowledge and understanding of Earth Sciences in particular.
  • many important skills can be developed through teaching, and each graduate student is generally expected to participate in teaching.  The department runs a Training in Teaching Programme to support students in developing these skills.


All DPhil students are required to undertake ‘broadening’ training (note: CDT students should see their own course pages for details of their training programmes).  Courses should be designed to broaden your knowledge and understanding of Earth Sciences as a whole. They should, by definition, not be directly related to the topic of your thesis.  It is recommended that you undertake broadening courses for 100 hours during your DPhil studies.  They should amount to the equivalent of 5 standard 16-hour lecture courses, which may be selected from the following:

  • Lectures as listed in the undergraduate timetable
  • Courses offered by other departments, for example through the Division’s Researcher Training Programme, with prior approval from the DGS
  • Summer Schools, Graduate Modelling Camps and similar, with the number of hours of lectures defining the amount of training
  • Other courses with approval from the DGS

The remainder of the 100 hours can be made up via attendance at seminars and conferences.  All doctoral students should be attending seminars, workshops and conferences regularly, even if not in their specialist area.  Students will be required to provide a list of such events attended, together with extended abstracts (one or two pages) of some of them.

You will be required to have taken a minimum of 2, and may take 3, broadening courses before you transfer your status.  Part of the transfer process will be a check that you have done this satisfactorily, and copies of the work submitted for assessment must be handed in with the transfer dissertation.  By confirmation of status you should have completed the full 100 hours.  The assessors for transfer or confirmation of status may ask you questions (at a fairly general level) about the topics they have covered in their broadening training.

Research Skills

These are skills needed to actually carry out research, for example safety, equipment use, programming; you should undertake to learn these skills throughout your programme.

Transferable Career Skills

These are core to every student’s development and are genuinely transferable, although they may have a subject nuance.

The phases are for guidance rather than rigid timescales:

 Foundation Phase
(0-12 months)
 Intensive Research Phase
(12-30 months)

 Completion Phase
(24+ months)

Training in Teaching Stage 1

Appropriate departmental seminars

Appropriate IT Services courses

Appropriate MPLS training courses


GRAD Challenge

Training in Teaching Stage 2

Appropriate departmental seminars

Appropriate IT Services courses

Appropriate MPLS training courses

Careers Service training and events

Appropriate departmental seminars

Appropriate IT Services courses

Appropriate MPLS training courses


Further Information

Information on the MPLS Divisional training programme for graduate students is found here.

To browse the full range of courses provided by departments in MPLS, see the Researcher Training Tool (RTT).  In the RTT you will see that courses are categorised using a wider range of categories.  These are Oxford wide categories that are designed to align with the Researcher Development Framework and drill down from the ones detailed above.

Some projects may require students to attend additional training on high performance computing; ARCHER (UK National Supercomputing Service) offer a variety of courses that may be appropriate for such projects.

The health and welfare of our students is important to us and there are various workshops available to help students look after themselves and others; information about these workshops can be found on the Student Health and Welfare pages of the University website.