Sapphire recently shared some insight on navigating life as a first year postgraduate researcher (PGR). Today, I would like to add some specific advice for those of you in the College of Medical, Veterinary, and Life Sciences (MVLS)! I’ll give you an overview of the college and provide some pointers to helpful webpages, so you will have all the information you need to make a glowing start as a PGR.
The College of MVLS aims to “improve health and quality of life for humans and animals across the globe”. The MVLS graduate school covers the postgraduate student body in these seven diverse research institutes dotted across Glasgow:
Screenshot from the MVLS Research Institutes webpage.
- Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine (IBAHCM)
- Cancer Sciences (ICS)
- Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences (ICAMS)
- Health and Wellbeing (IHW)
- Infection, Immunity and Inflammation (commonly referred to as “the three Is” or 3Is)
- Molecular Cell and Systems Biology (IMCSB)
- Neuroscience and Psychology (INP)
Most of the institutes can be found on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, which is a great way to keep up to date on what is happening and what events are taking place. Some of them also have a specific Facebook group for PGRs where you can keep in touch with your peers and ask questions. In my institute (ICS) we use it for fun too—memes and pictures galore, with the occasional pub quiz invite!
Regardless of where you are located, your best source of information is the webpage for current MVLS students. Here you can find information on the Code of Practice for PG research degrees, the PGR student handbook, and other policies and procedures. This might not sound like the most exciting read, but it’s good to be aware of what is expected of you as a PGR, and what you can expect from your supervisors and the university in turn. It also contains a handy overview of the support services available, such as the PGR Convenors for your institute and the Student Representatives. The latter are fellow students that can help you with any issues you may not want to discuss directly with a supervisor, university staff member, or the PGR Convenor. There is a separate section for those of you with families, which explains procedures for maternity and paternity leave, parental and adoption pay, and leave policies. There is also a specific support page for international students.
Screenshot from the MVLS Graduate School webpage.
Another useful source of information is the MVLS Moodle, our intranet. Here you can find a copy of all induction documents—we know the information on induction day can be a bit overwhelming! You can also find information on training courses, important forms, and the annual review process. Navigating the annual review process is not always straightforward in first year and sometimes it is even a bit scary to realise you are expected to hand in documents within three months of starting! But no need to panic, as there is a detailed overview of what is expected at each stage of the year. You can also access the PGR review process online system there, in which your progress is monitored.
With so much experimental work to do, we sometimes forget that we are still students rather than lab rats! But have a look at all the skills training courses offered by UofG, as training really is a key element during your development as a PGR. There are courses in IT and specific software packages, clinical courses, workshops on public engagement or entrepreneurship, specific surgeries for thesis writing and even help to prepare you for job interviews—lots of options to explore. These courses can help you improve your skills as a researcher, but can also contribute to your personal and professional development in other areas. The page also has step-by-step instructions on how to book your place on courses using the UofG MyCampus system. Some courses only run once or twice a year, so try to book in advance at the start of each semester.
Student life often involves filling in forms, which can be tedious, but luckily the important ones can all be found together. These include forms for the annual review process and procedures surrounding thesis writing. But did you know that you can also apply for funding to go to an external training course or workshop? And that you can gain external skills development credits by doing activities such as presenting at a journal club or conference, or participating in public engagement events? The forms page will help you navigate all these things.
We hope this post provided a helpful overview to point you towards the right information when you have any admin-related queries. Of course, PGR life in MVLS encompasses much more excitement besides forms and policies! James will publish a blog soon on getting started in MVLS focused on your research. Did I miss anything, or do you have any other questions or additions? What did you find useful to know when you first started, and what would you have liked more help with? Leave us a comment!