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University Graduate College: Enhancing the experience of Postgraduate Researchers

Lab-based sciences

How are students assigned to research projects?

Within laboratory-based sciences, research students are often recruited to specific research projects. The student’s topic fits into the supervisor’s research programme and the student takes on an trainee-type role.

What is expected of students?

You will be required to make an original contribution to the research in order to be awarded a PhD (although there will inevitably be limits to research creativity that the student can develop). You will, however, have the benefit of working in laboratories alongside leading researchers in their field.

How do students spend their time?

Most students spend the majority of their time in a laboratory environment, with the rest divided between paper research (looking at articles, reviewing an existing field), in progress meetings and occasional group seminars.

Although not often directly linked to a student’s individual project, these activities are a good way of keeping up with other research projects happening within the school. It is more usual for laboratory-based research to follow a set schedule, but this will depend on the project and stage of a student’s research.

At Cardiff University, you will also have the chance to attend training and development programmes for postgraduate researchers through the University Graduate College Programme.

What types of projects are students involved with?

Many students undertake research on an existing project, organised and advertised (and often funded) by the academic School. Typically, this will be a well-defined project that should lead, if successfully completed, to a reasonable quality publication.

This starting project should have clear questions, goals, and deliverables, meaning a student will be clear on what the target is and what needs to be done to get there. These targets are likely to determine progress, with a student working together with their supervisor in order to develop a working research plan that will organise a student’s time in order to successfully meet them.


See our Supervision page.