The EPSRC Systems Biology DTC provides a tailored training programme for graduates from mathematical, physical or biological sciences backgrounds who wish to conduct research in the field of systems biology. The programme facilitates the development of leading-edge research in the techniques that underpin the work of groups across the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division. The DTC has become a major focus within the University for the training of systems biology doctoral researchers, changing the culture of graduate training in Oxford for its students.
DTC students undertake a four-year doctoral training programme. The first two terms are devoted to acquiring advanced theoretical and technical skills from the physical sciences, and background knowledge in the life sciences, combined with research and communication skills training, through a combination of intensive lecture courses and project work. These courses are taught in intensive one and two week modular blocks with 12 modules in total. The final module in research and communication skills is taught throughout the year
All modules will involve some aspect of formal assessment. This will take a wide variety of forms depending on the module, but in most cases will involve problem-based assessments. Assessment guidelines have been developed to ensure that students are assessed on the progress relative to their background within any given module.
After completion of the modules, over Trinity term and the summer of the first year, students undertake two extended laboratory rotations of 11 weeks duration associated with one or two of the research themes. These are similar in scope to a master’s level project. Students are encouraged to undertake at least one of these projects in an experimental laboratory to provide an appreciation of the complexity and difficulty of modern experimental work.
On completion of the projects students undertake their substantive DPhil research project in systems biology within one of the application areas, with the students based within the research groups of their principal supervisor.
Throughout this period, the Centre continues to monitor closely the needs for continuing training and support, tailored to each student.