The department provides a comprehensive induction for all new students during the first week of Michaelmas term at the beginning of October. This runs in parallel with induction events organised by colleges and the Medical Sciences Division. The programme of induction is designed to enable students to begin their studies with an understanding of the academic and social environment within which they will be working and includes:
- facilities available for students within the department
- relevant health and safety practices within the group and department
- guidance on good academic practice and the avoidance of plagiarism
- introduction to staff and their roles and an opportunity to meet socially and informally with other students and staff in the department, especially the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS)
- orientation to the course, i.e. methods of assessment and examination, regulations and other requirements, as well as general processes such as annual registration
- dissertation supervision arrangements, including establishing appropriate working patterns, the minimum frequency of supervision meetings and the purpose of such meetings, evaluation, monitoring and reporting procedures
- wider academic opportunities (seminars, journal clubs, research networks) including opportunities for meeting other students and staff
- student welfare (in the departmental context)
- academic expectations of students and responsibilities of students (see Section 6 of this policy)
- typical challenges which may face the graduate student and sources of support and guidance including support for developing study skills
- how to raise concerns and/or make a complaint, and opportunities to provide feedback (e.g. through a Joint Consultative Committee).
The majority of the MSc teaching takes place in a dedicated teaching suite equipped with wi-fi and free printing facilities. The room is designated as a quiet study area after 2pm between Monday and Friday each week for independent study.
It is generally expected that students will spend on average 35-40 hours a week on study: each week will typically include 15-20 hours of contact time within the department and 20-25 hours of self-directed study.
Open office hours for academics
Dedicated teaching fellows are available for bookable one-to-one sessions during set clinic hours.
All MSc students are allocated an academic supervisor at the beginning of the course. Supervisors provide support and guidance and monitor their students’ progress in relation to academic and practical skill development to fulfil the requirements of the MSc. Students are expected to meet with their supervisor at least once per term.
The academic supervisor relationship is not about direct teaching – although tutors can recommend or arrange for their tutee to see other specific members of staff regarding specific academic matters. Academic supervisors mainly act as a point of contact to discuss practical issues or questions regarding the programme, such as choice of research project, or as a first-line sympathetic ear for other personal challenges.
During the research placement (May to August) all students are allocated an additional placement supervisor who is their first point of contact throughout the placement. They are expected to meet for approximately one hour each week. Placement supervisors provide advice to the students on the conduct of their research activities and how these might inform their dissertation, including but not limited to: advice on reading materials, methodology, approach and the structure of the dissertation
Department pastoral support
In addition to pastoral support provided by individual university colleges, the department is committed to supporting graduate students throughout their studies. The academic supervisor is the first point of contact and the Director for Graduate Studies may also offer advice and support where there is a difference of opinion between a student and their supervisor.
A number of student-led initiatives offer informal advice and guidance on various topics from research activities to arranging a social event. This includes student mentors and trained peer supporters who facilitate drop-in sessions each term to discuss anything of concern to students over coffee and biscuits.