Physics and Astronomy »

Centre for Doctoral Training in Data Intensive Science

20 May 2024

Supervising Students

What do CDT Students do?

The length of the PhD is 4 years (with funding). However, note that 4 years is a hard deadline. There is no possibility of extending the duration of the PhD, not even if the supervisor has personal funding for it. In addition to their research project, CDT students are obliged to undertake the following activities.

What's different for supervisors of CDT students?

Supervisors of CDT students are expected to engage with the Centre and essential tasks in this role will include: (1) supervise group projects; (2) participate in upgrade interviews and other reviews; (3) Participate in the CDT Seminar Series, run on a monthly basis. You are also strongly encouraged to participate in three annual CDT events which take place in September (the annual CDT meeting), December (the Industry-Academia Festival), and in April (Group project presentations). As the CDT grows there will be more opportunities to engage with the Centre, and we believe you will find such opportunities extremely rewarding and educational.

How does CDT training differ from a traditional PhD?

The students undertake dedicated DIS training throughout the 1st year, comprising mandatory masters level courses (1st and 2nd terms), a group project (2nd term), a dedicated DIS summer school (end of their 1st year) and a Software Carpentry Boot Camp (beginning of their 1st year). This means that supervisors can only expect that the students spend a small amount of time doing research during the heavy training period - hence, we advise that you please be realistic in your expectations as students come to the end of their year 1, especially if the student's project is part of a big collaborations with strict deadlines. Details of the training can be found here.

CDT students can still attend generic PhD training, and are sometimes obliged to do so. For example, all PhD students must receive training on the principles of research integrity. To address this requirement, the Dept. has developed a web page; you should direct your students to it, or (better) review it with them: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/research/integrity. Students and supervisors should then discuss its content and sign off on the statement of integrity.

Note that students will need to record this in their e-log as a requirement of the MPhil:PhD upgrade process. In general, please encourage your student to keep the e-log up to date and to regularly write in it, as a matter of good practice.

How do external placements fit in to the programme?

Students are required to participate in a group project during their first year, working with one of the CDTs many industrial partners. At the end of the 2nd/beginning of the 3rd year, the student will undertake a 6 month secondment to one of our partner organisations, where they will carry out a project independent of their PhD research. This is mandatory and the student can not graduate if the placement has not been completed. It is important therefore that supervisors develop a plan now and discuss it with their students, to best fit this in with the overall thesis project (we expect such a plan to be in place by the end of the 1st year).

Where are the students located?

The students spend their first year in the CDT office (formerly CoMPLEX), in the ground floor of the Physics building, with the rest of the cohort. This is vital to build networks across the research fields, to allow knowledge transfer/synergies to be exploited. Following this, students will be based in offices with other students in their chosen field (High Energy Physics or Astronomy). The students attend, in addition to all CDT events, events from their research group, when possible.

When do students transfer between MPhil and PhD?

Unlike most PhD students, the MPhil transfers for the CDT DIS students will be carried out around or just after Christmas of their second year, to provide more time for the student to undertake their research project before the transfer.