Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health
PhD Induction day

PhD Training

The Institute’s goal is to help you develop the skills and knowledge to help you excel as a researcher in the life sciences. While we know lab techniques and research experience are a key part of this, we also recognise the importance of other transferable skills in helping you to build a prominent international research career. These are also the abilities that can help you in a wide range of careers should you choose to pursue different directions after graduate study.

Students at the Institute can access a variety of courses designed to help them to develop these additional skills. These include opportunities offered by the Institute, which are continually monitored and updated by the Graduate Committee following student feedback. And also include external opportunities either within the University or offered in partnership with other organisations.

Our programme includes several compulsory courses, together with optional training in accordance with the needs and interests of each student. Available courses can help you to develop knowledge, understanding and experience of: 

  • Scientific & technical writing
  • Intellectual property
  • Commercial awareness
  • Scientific ethics
  • Presentation skills & poster design
  • Data handling and reporting techniques
  • IT, Computational & bioinformatics skills
  • Mathematical skills & statistics
  • Time management
  • Project management
  • Networking and team development
  • Equality and diversity awareness
  • Acceptable professional behaviour
  • Press & the media
The University and our associated Doctoral Training Programmes also offer their own essential and optional training courses.

Funding can also be made available if there is suitable reason for you to travel to other organisations for skills training as part of your research project at the Institute.

The University Graduate School of Life Sciences offers a vast range of additional complementary training courses and additional career development opportunities can be accessed through the University of Cambridge Careers Service, including careers advice and courses on writing CVs and interview techniques.

Advanced Research Training

The Institute’s Senior Research Associates and Research Facilities provide training in the use of shared equipment and advanced research techniques as required by your particular research project. Your supervisor and personal committee will help you to identify the training opportunities that are right for you.

Transferable Skills

We will support you to develop a wide range of critical life skills beyond the lab. Relevant skills include helping you to communicate effectively in a range of contexts, build new and productive relationships and develop creative skills through innovation and design. As a PhD student, through the University, you also have the option of getting involved in undergraduate teaching through supervision of theoretical courses and demonstrations in practical classes.

We have an active collaboration, commercialisation, engagement and communications programme supported by the members of the Impact team. The team offers a wide range of opportunities to develop skills outside the lab and can offer expertise to help you develop your own ideas and build your confidence.

As a key example, our students take part in our annual Schools’ Day and engage visiting GSCE and A level students with lab activities. You can also choose to join the team organising the annual Symposium for Biological and Life Science Students (SymBLS). The symposium provides a venue to present and discuss your research with peers from across the University as well as internationally recognised keynote speakers.

Credit System

To ensure that every student accumulates the level of transferable skills training required by the Research Councils, the Institute operates a credit system to recognise your commitment to developing key skills.

Credits are given both for attendance at formal courses and for learning through experience activities – such as leading journal clubs, giving seminars, attending appropriate conferences or participating in Impact activities. To ensure you balance your development throughout your PhD, you can only accumulate a certain number of credits in each area of activity. Our students consistently exceed the 10-days per annum training recommended by the Research Councils.