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A“highly impressive” environment for postgraduate study

05 August 2009

Cardiff University’s research environment has been praised as "both extensive and impressive" in the latest Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Training and Development Board visit.

The ESRC undertakes quality assurance and enhancement visits to institutions with a record of success in gaining research studentships.

The visiting panel found that the University provides research students with an extensive range of opportunities to engage with high quality interdisciplinary research. Panel members were "highly impressed" by the premium support and training offered across the social sciences at Cardiff University and by supervisors’ considerable commitment to students’ development.

The University’s Research and Graduate School was commended for the key role it has played in co-ordinating and enhancing support to graduate students in the social sciences. This includes the delivery of a MSc/Diploma in Social Science Research Methods. The Research and Graduate School spans seven academic Schools - Business and Management, City and Regional Planning, Psychology, Social Sciences, Law, European Studies and Nursing - that have a long history of cross-disciplinary collaboration.

The panel members were greatly impressed by the Research Students’ Skills Development Programme, noting that it provides "a rich resource of training opportunities" including training in advanced research skills. They also singled out the work of the research centres seeing them as "beacons of quality" in interdisciplinary research and training.

Professor Jonathan Osmond, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students, said: "A key feature of Cardiff’s teaching provision is its relation to research. Our postgraduate students are very much part of the research culture at Cardiff and our Research and Graduate School in the social sciences has done much to develop this."

The Graduate Centre was also commended for its role as the South West and Wales regional host for both Vitae, a national organisation supporting the development of doctoral researchers, and Researchers in Residence, a scheme which places postgraduate researchers in schools to help youngsters learn about the latest research. The panel praised the way this facilitates the sharing of Cardiff’s considerable expertise in this area with both a regional and national audience.

Cardiff was awarded a total of 27 new ESRC studentships for 2008/09 - including competition studentships - which ranks Cardiff 6th in the list of institutions in receipt of new awards.

Cardiff performs particularly well in the Open Competition - in 2008/09 it was ranked joint third, with Oxford and Manchester, in terms of the number of new competition awards.

Professor Keith Whitfield, Director of the Research and Graduate School in the Social Sciences, said: "We are delighted that the ESRC visit highlighted the strong interdisciplinary postgraduate provision that allows our students to develop excellent research and transferable skills."

Cardiff University’s postgraduate community numbers more than 6,000 students.

1. Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.

Visit the University website at:

2. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) undertakes quality assurance and enhancement visits to institutions with a record of success in gaining ESRC research studentships. The aim of the visits is to understand how institutions are responding to the demands placed upon them by ESRC training requirements, to identify where excellent and innovative practice is taking place, and to disseminate examples of effective practice to the wider social science community.

3. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC’s planned total expenditure in 2009/10 is £204 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. More at

Laura Davies

External Relations Manager

Cardifff Business School

Tel: +44 (0)29 2087 5132


Emma Darling

Cardiff University

Tel: 02920874499


Danielle Moore

Press and PR Manager

Economic and Social Research Council

Tel.: 01793 413122