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Graduate Lifecyle: The First Few months

You should aim to complete the following tasks in your first few months:


Research Proposal

Within your first two weeks if possible, discuss your project area with your supervisor to identify key aims of your research project. These should be form the foundation of your literature review and research proposal (see below).

Skills Analysis Survey

The Skills analysis survey is an online module designed to help you assess your existing skills against the competencies outlined in the Cambridge Researcher Development Framework (CamRDF), and identify areas that need development. Take the survey as soon as possible to fully utilise the opportunities available to you.  Click here for details.

Advisers / supervisory team

It is very important that you and your supervisor appoint others who will provide assistance in your progression through the research project.  At a minimum the Department insists on the appointment of an adviser to offer a sounding board/ second opinion on your progress, but if possible encourage your supervisor to appoint a supervisory team with a range of skills relating to your project area.  Discuss who you will be appointing in these roles with your Supervisor, check that they are willing to take the role and inform the Graduate Administrator who you have appointed within six weeks of taking up your course.  Of course it is not sufficient simply to appoint these individuals - you must then ensure that they actually meet with you at regular intervals: we suggest at a minimum twice per term for an adviser and once per term for a larger team. More info on Advisor/supervisory team here.

Research proposal and literature review

This should take place within the first 4 months of your arrival.  Discuss the scope and content with your supervisor. In most cases we would expect this to be between 3,000-6,000 words, reviewing in detail the background to, and objectives of, your thesis study.  Prepare an estimated timeline for the study, with the experiments to be performed, the deliverables and times of delivery. Also prepare a  rough estimated budget. These should then be discussed in a meeting with your advisor/supervisory team  and supervisor to check their practicality.

Progression self assessment

The University asks you to self report annually on your view of your own progression using the CamSIS pages. In addition the Department would like a very short report to be completed termly, so that we can hear from you as early as possible if you think you are getting into any sort of problem. You will receive reminders at the end of each term, together with a reminder of the procedure for self-reporting.


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