Training and Cohort Activities

As its name suggests, the Doctoral Training Partnership has a strong emphasis on developing the skills of its students in the strategic priorities of the MRC ( Our training is, therefore, centered around the themes of: Neuroscience and Mental Health; Infection, Immunity and Repair and Population Health Sciences.

The training programme will have three strands:

  1. Research skills.
  2. Professional and career development skills.
  3. Opportunities to broaden horizons.

DTP Training Events

The DTP run several training events throughout the course of your studentship to meet the MRC’s strategic skills priorities as outlined below. You will also be invited to an induction event at your home institution to welcome you to your university and academic school. Scheduling of these induction events will differ between the four universities, so please check with your institution for dates.

Compulsory Training Events

As part of your training programme, there will be several DTP cohort activities that will take place throughout your studentship. These activities bring together all students from across the partnership and provide excellent opportunities for networking, peer-to-peer learning and sharing of knowledge. These events will include:

  1. Orientation
  2. Institutional social event
  3. Theme-specific training
  4. Congress

Please note that attendance at these four events is compulsory unless valid reasons are given in advance to the DTP team. You are expected to ensure that your research, fieldwork, training courses or supervisory meetings do not interfere with attendance at these cohort events.


Orientation will run for two days in the 2nd or 3rd week of October (usually in Cardiff) and is your opportunity to meet with other students in the DTP for the first time. A number of team-building activities, training workshops and presentations will take place in an informal setting. This will also be your opportunity to ask questions and to develop your early-stage researcher networks.

During your first year, you will be expected to attend both days of Orientation. In subsequent years, attendance is only expected for the second day.

Institutional Social Event

Towards the end of the winter term, you will be invited to attend an institutional event at your home institution. This event will give you the opportunity to meet with your institutional lead and other DTP students at your home institution and will ensure that strong networks are maintained across the programme.

Theme-specific Training

During the spring term of each year, you will be invited to participate in theme-specific training across one of the four GW4 institutions. These events are your opportunity to keep up to date with the current research and developments in your area and to meet students who are working in similar fields to your own.


Congress takes place across two days in May, previously in either in Bath, Exeter or Bristol. This is your opportunity to see research from right across the DTP, broadening your research training through plenaries, workshops and specific training sessions for your cohort.

At this conference, you will be expected to present your own research in the form of either a poster or an oral presentation. Second and third year students will also be invited to share their skills by delivering short workshops.

Core Training

During the first year of your studentship, you will be expected to complete three modules on the DTP’s Core Training platform. These Core Training modules are available via an online platform accessed via Learning Central and cover topics such as statistics, data handling, research methods and ethics.

Each week, you will be given reading material, such as journal articles, or YouTube videos on a given topic. You will then be expected to take part in a group chat in an online forum with a small group from your cohort. These groups will be moderated by the module tutor, the DTP Chair and an online learning consultant.

While formal assessment grades will not be given, you will be assessed on your level of engagement with the discussion. Those deemed unsatisfactory or who miss three or more weeks will be required to take any missed weeks next time they are run.

If you have already reached the level required in that week’s topic or have already met that training need via a different method of training, you should contact the DTP Team in advance of that module running to gain exception from that week’s training. Additionally, if you are unable to participate in the upcoming week’s training, please notify the DTP team with an explanation as to why you cannot participate.

Advanced Training Elements (ATEs)

A menu of specific training opportunities will be available drawn from an array of established provision across the four universities and highlighting three priority skills:

  • Quantitative Skills.
  • Interdisciplinary Skills.
  • In Vivo Skills.

ATEs will typically be two-to-three days long and will take place intermittently throughout the year. You will be required to attend at least one of these modules but are welcome to attend more if they are relevant to your development needs.

Access to Training in Transferable Skills within GW4

You can access careers workshops and training in transferable skills, including communication and project management, at any of the GW4 universities (subject to availability). Note that as a GW4 DTP student you have the same rights of access to workshops as a ‘home’ student.

There is no charge to attend the courses, but you will be responsible for your own travel costs from your £300 per annum travel allowance, which is held on your behalf by your institution.

A full list of training for postgraduate researchers is available at each of the respective universities:

To access workshops and training at institutions other than your own, you should be able to log in with your email or username provided with your Visiting Student status. If you have problems gaining access, please email the relevant postgraduate training office, explaining that you are in the GW4BioMed DTP and outlining the workshops you wish to attend.

Please note that some schools or faculties also offer programmes of workshops for which there is a charge – you will be able to access them but may be expected to pay the appropriate fee, for which you can use your RTSG.

Additional Training Opportunities

Your PhD is structured to include additional training opportunities including the ‘Prep Period’ and a compulsory Broadening Horizons placement. You also are encouraged to undertake research visits, public engagement internships and placements exposing yourself to clinical practice surrounding the disease you are studying during your time with the DTP.

The Prep Period

The first three months of your PhD is called your ‘Prep Period’. The prep period is student led and provides you with the time to engage with all members of your supervisory team and your project and refine it based on discussions and visits with people outside your immediate supervisory team. Work on your PhD will then start in January 2024.

Meetings should include,

  • Your HEI induction in early October covering topics such as health and safety, ethics, local progression monitoring etc. You’ll also meet other students in your university cohort. This will be organised by your university.
  • GW4 Orientation, mid-October. This will give you the opportunity to meet with the other students in your cohort and the wider DTP.
  • HEI GW4 BioMed social event

Training should include,

  • A minimum of 3 visits arranged by you and your Supervisor, one with a co-supervisor/co supervisors lab, one with someone from a cross cutting theme/group that is important to your project and one with a local collaborator or lab with relevant techniques.
  • This time can also be used for project specific training such as the course for a Home Office licence.

At the end of the prep period you are required to submit a 2-page project outline including,

  • Background
  • Research question/hypothesis, aims, objectives
  • Implementation (including resources)
  • Expected outcomes
  • Risks, and contingency plans to deal with them
  • 1 page outline of potential research studies in years 2 and 3, showing where these are contingent on year 1 outcomes.

We will also ask you to complete a survey to feedback on your prep experiences. Details and deadlines to follow.

Broadening Horizons

During the third year of your studentship, you will be undertaking a Broadening Horizons placement of up to 3 months in duration.

These placements are a compulsory element of the GW4 BioMed2 MRC DTP programme and enable you to conduct some research relevant to your PhD project in another research group or develop your understanding of how your research can be applied outside of academia or investigate a potential career option. More information on placements will be sent you in your second year.

Funding for additional expenses associated with these placements should be sourced from your RTSG in the first instance.