This guidance will provide an overview of the postgraduate training programme for PhD students registered in the Department of Haematology, University of Cambridge. Postgraduate students studying for a PhD in Haematology are administered through the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute Postgraduate Education Committee.
The Application Process
Details relating to the application process, including an overview, finance, study requirements and how to apply can be viewed on the Postgraduate Admissions pages here.
Each PhD student will have a supervisor (sometimes referred to as the “principal supervisor”) and a postgraduate advisor. Your supervisor guides you in the choice of research project, in defining aims and strategies, and in acquiring the skills you need for this project and to prepare you for your future career.
Your postgraduate advisor will usually be a member of the academic staff outside of your research group, possibly but not necessarily in the Department of Haematology. The role of the advisor is to complement the supervisor, being available when the supervisor is absent or providing expert advice on specific areas of the research project.
You may also have a bench supervisor, a member of your research group with day-to-day responsibility for supervising the practical aspects of your project, but this is optional and it is not necessary to inform anyone.
Researcher Training Development
Researcher Development encompasses all the learning and development that you might wish to experience and acquire during your time at Cambridge. It provides you with skills you need right now to progress through your PhD, as well for your future. The Researcher Development team provides a diverse programme of activities and online resources for PhD students, as well as acting as a hub for the coordination of Researcher Development provision in the University. For more information, please visit the Researcher Development website.
First year assessment
Students are not formally registered for the PhD until the end of the first year. The recommendation to approve students for formal registration is made on the basis of the first year assessment, which considers the first year report prepared by the student and the performance of the student in a viva defending the report. The assessment will address whether the student has made sufficient progress and shows sufficient ability to proceed to a PhD degree, whether the project is feasible and whether it is suitable for a PhD degree.
The first year report should be in standard scientific format:
- Introduction, describing the background and rationale of the project.
- Experimental methods and results.
- Discussion of initial results.
- Experimental plan for year 2 (and possibly year 3).
The report should be about 4000 to 6000 words in length. It should not be necessary to take more than three weeks in total to prepare it, and your supervisor should give you about two weeks of protected time to work on it. The written document must be completed and distributed at least two weeks before the assessment, and the assessment must take place before the end of the student’s first year. It is the student’s responsibility to prepare this report, and the supervisor should only be responsible for general guidance.
The first year report will be considered by the supervisor and advisor, and by an external assessor, who should be a member of the University outside the Department of Haematology. The format of the assessment is flexible, but should include a short oral presentation summarising the report and an opportunity to discuss progress, plans and other concerns. The external assessor then prepares, for the supervisor, a short report on the student’s progress and abilities, and the feasibility and suitability of the project. The supervisor is responsible for providing copies of this report to the postgraduate administrator.
Second year assessment
Only the first year assessment is mandatory, but the student and the supervisor may find it useful to carry out a second year assessment, attended by the advisor and the external assessor, to consider whether the student is on track to finish on time and to discuss plans for the final year of PhD research. It should not be necessary to produce another written report; an oral update of the student’s progress and plans should be sufficient.
Dissertation and viva
The Code of Practice for research degrees sets out the University’s expectations of students and the staff who teach them. Further details can be found here. An Appointment of Examiners Application Form will need to be completed at least two months before you expect to be ready to submit your dissertation (further ahead in the summer, when the committees meet less frequently), so that the forms will have enough time to go through the necessary committees and you will not be held up.
If you are experiencing difficulty with any aspect of your work or outside life as a postgraduate student, there are several sources of support. You may wish to speak with either of your supervisors in the first instance, your college tutor, the Haematology Postgraduate Education Director, Dr Daniel Hodson or with one of the representatives on the Stem Cell Institute Postgraduate Education Committee, including Prof Brian Huntly and Dr Brian Hendrich. Alternatively, you may wish to contact one of the University’s welfare offices, details of which can be found from http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/students/gateway/welfare/ and http://www.studentadvice.cam.ac.uk/.
If you have any questions relating to a PhD in Haematology, please see the Postgraduate Admissions pages here.
All other enquiries can be sent to the postgraduate administrator in the first instance (PhD@stemcells.cam.ac.uk).