Graduates: Training

We run a training programme for all graduate students, to complement the training that they will obtain in their research group. Graduate training is coordinated by Stuart West.

Zoology Training Framework

In addition, the Department also offers the following:

  Foundations Phase
(0-12 months)
Intensive Research Phase
(12-30 months)
Completion Phase
(24+ months)
Transferable Career Skills Intro to R Training for
tutorials and
Research Skills Training
Stats courses
Academic Skills        


1. Training Seminars

We run a series of graduate training seminars during the Michaelmas and Hilary terms. These are to cover a number of basic skills and issues that are of importance to all graduate students. Graduate students are expected to attend all seminars and lunch will be provided (provided you have signed up with the graduate office). Different topics are covered in alternate years, such that attendance for two years will allow you to go to all the seminars.

2. Introduction to Statistics using R

This course aims to take post-graduates through a basic statistics course. While most students have taken an undergraduate course, it is likely that they will have forgotten most of what they have learnt and are not comfortable with statistics. Such students that are not comfortable with statistics at this stage are likely to need a reasonable grasp of statistics in a readily accessible form. We will use R as the basic package, but using menu-based commands as an easier introduction to the R language.

The aim of this course is to take you through basic statistics up to and building on Analysis of Variance and General Linear Models. As part of the course, you will receive the latest version of R with all the relevant libraries as well as an introductory statistics book.

The course will take the form of lectures in the morning, followed by practicals each afternoon. Where possible, we will take the time to discuss the specific problems of students’ own data sets. The course is run by: Tom Hart and Julie Collet, and usually takes place in October or December. To obtain a place on this course, please email the graduate office (

3. R4All Statistics course

This is a more advanced statistics course that follows on from the introductory course, and is based around the stats package R. It will be run by Owen Petchey and Andrew Beckerman ( and usually takes place in March or April. To obtain a place on this course, please email Heather in the graduate office (

We will also be running more advanced statistical workshops on topics specifically requested by students, as part of the training seminar series.

The JRC also runs a number of statistical workshops

4. Advice for female DPhil students

15 things I wish I'd known before my DPhil (restricted access) by two previous female graduate students. For further information on our attempts to tackle gender issues see our Athena Swan web page

5. Tea and cakes

There is a weekly tea and cake session during term time, to allow graduate students from different research groups to meet and interact. A weekly email gives details, but it is usually held on Thursdays, in Darwins at 3:30pm. This is organized by the JRC.

6. Safety Training

A number of courses are run covering essential safety issues, all of which get very positive feedback from attendees. These include courses aimed at both field (e.g. ‘Safety in overseas fieldwork’ and ‘emergency first aid for fieldworkers’) and laboratory (e.g. ‘COSHH and chemical safety’, ‘Cryogenic liquids’ and ‘Introduction to biological safety’) workers. Students are required to attend the courses relevant to their research. Bookings are made through

7. The Tinbergen Lecture

Each year, the graduates organize the inviting and hosting of the giver of the Tinbergen lecture, as part of the departmental seminar series (Mondays at 4pm). The choosing and inviting of lecturers should take place at the start of Michaelmas term.

8. Graduate Academic Programme (GAP) & MPLS Researcher Training

Students can attend a range of courses across the departments in the Mathematical, Physical & Life Sciences Division (MPLS). These courses are brought together and can be enrolled in, via the Researcher Training Tool. There are around 350 courses available throughout the academic year, including: Academic subjects and skills, Research skills and techniques, and Transferable Career Development training.

9. Possibly Useful Resources

  1. Some modest advice for graduate students, by Stephen Stearns
  2. Some acynical advice for graduate students, by Raymond Huey
  3. Survival Strategies for scientists, by Tim Clutton-Brock
  4. Grantsmanship: What makes proposals work? By Anne Moffat
  5. How do I submit a paper to a scientific journal? By Maxine Clarke
  6. The importance of stupidity in scientific research, by Martin Schwartz
  7. If you would like something on experimental design, the book by Ruxton & Colegrave provides a good introduction
  8. 20 Tips for surviving your PhD
  9. Coping with difficult supervisors
  10. The PhD Troubles Talk

Note that the above resources are not official, and should be read with caution; for example, 1 & 2 especially were written tongue in cheek as a 'skit', as well as being aimed at students in the very different USA graduate system.