Key Facts about the Oxford DTP in Environmental Research
Academic Director: Prof. David Pyle (Earth Sciences) is responsible for the development and
implementation of the DTP ([email protected]).
Course Director: Dr. Elizabeth Jeffers (Zoology) is developing the training programme, will oversee
the delivery of training courses and monitor student progress through the programme
([email protected]).
Programme Manager: Victoria Forth is responsible for logistical management of the programme,
including promotion, admissions, induction, monitoring and record keeping of student progression,
course assessments, liaison with applicants, partners, supervisors, and students, timetabling,
website development, e-learning development, servicing the management committee, organising
events, and finance ([email protected]).
Management Committee: The committee is the decision-making body of the DTP and is generally
responsible for overseeing the training programme, admitting students and managing DTP finances.
The committee is made up of one representative and one deputy from each of the six departments
involved with the DTP:
Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art: Prof. Christopher Ramsey with
Dr Victoria Smith
School of Geography & the Environment: Professor David Thomas with Dr Richard Grenyer
Plant Sciences: Prof. Andy Hector (deputy tbc)
Zoology: Dr. Michael Bonsall with Professor Tim Coulson
Earth Sciences: Dr Helen Johnson (deputy tbc)
Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics: Dr. Philip Stier with Dr Andrew Wells
Advisory Board: it is intended that a board will be established to provide the management
committee with guidance in running a multi-disciplinary postgraduate research training programme
and to raise the profile of our DTP amongst public and private entities worldwide.
Students apply directly to the DTP by the January postgraduate admissions deadline. They do not
apply for specific projects (as was previously done with NERC-funded studentships); instead they are
asked to indicate which of three research streams they are interested in joining:
Biodiversity, Ecology & Evolutionary Processes: Biological processes, systems and their
interactions at scales ranging from the organism to the population in spheres ranging from
human health to natural ecosystems, across all timescales.
Key Facts about the Oxford DTP in Environmental Research
Dynamic Earth, Surface Processes & Natural Hazards: From Earth’s internal structure and
behaviour to the processes operating at Earth’s surface and its interface with climate.
Physical Climate System: Theory, observations and modelling of the physical behaviour of
the climate system across time scales.
Applications will be evaluated initially by the management committee, who are responsible for
creating a short-list of candidates who will be invited to Oxford for an interview. Interviews
generally held at the end of February. We have twenty-four NERC funded places to offer students
across the three streams for each year between 2014 and 2019.
Students that accept our offers of a funded place will be enrolled in the DTP as a Probationary
Research Student and will begin their studies in Michaelmas Term. The Upgrade process, where PRS
students transfer to DPhil student status, will be handled by the Departments, no later than the sixth
The Training Programme
Residential Field Course: Prior to the start of Michaelmas Term, new students will participate in a
residential field course where they will be introduced to experimental design, field-work planning
and data collection across the range of disciplines represented within the DTP. The field
measurements and samples collected on this course will provide datasets that the students will
analyse in the Toolkits part of the training course during the first term.
Multi-disciplinary training in core research skills: During Michaelmas Term, the cohort of incoming
students will be allocated desk space within the DTP offices on B-level in the Department of Zoology.
They will undertake intensive, hands-on training in the core skills that are required for undertaking
research in environmental sciences. Below is a list of courses that we plan to offer.
Skills Toolkit Courses and Workshops
Communicating Research
 Blog writing
 Managing your research profile
 Mastering social media
 Specifying research questions
 Abstract writing
 Proposal writing
Planning & Managing Research
 Project design & management
 Data management & archiving
 Proposal writing
 Research ethics & regulations
 Principles of reference
 Fieldwork planning
Components of the Earth System
Research Methods
 Earth Observations
 Scientific Chronology
 Isotope tracers
 Theory and application of
 Desktop mapping in ArcGIS
 Departmental research days
Foundations for a successful
 Components of a D.Phil thesis
 Strategies for finishing on time
 Progression & assessment
Earth System Processes
Page 2
Introduction to Data Analysis &
 Modelling the dynamics of
 Scientific code management and
 Frameworks for statistical analysis
Graduate Research Seminars
Impact & Engagement
 Grand Challenges Seminars
 Policy Workshop
 Science Communication & Outreach
Key Facts about the Oxford DTP in Environmental Research
As part of their practical training, students will also participate in research lessons taught in the
laboratories of the six Departments associated with the DTP. This will take place over six weeks
during Michaelmas Term. This will provide them with an opportunity to experience research work in
a variety of laboratories, and thus help them to decide the type(s) of research they may wish to
undertake for their DPhil project.
Research Conference: Just before the start of Michaelmas Term, the DTP will host a two day
conference where potential supervisors and project partners will make a brief (~ 3 minute)
presentation on their own research areas. These pitching session will be interspersed with
networking sessions for discussion of potential projects and collaborations. The conference will be
rounded off by a poster session where the previous cohort will showcase their achievements in their
first year.
Following this,students will submit a research question by the end of week 6 Michaelmas Term, and
an abstract by the end of week 8. The management committee will review these and moderate the
match between students and supervisors in week 9. Proposals must be submitted by the end of
week 8 Hilary Term, but can be submitted earlier if the candidate is ready to begin their project.
Students will be encouraged to involve partners during the project development process and to seek
CASE involvement with the help of their supervisors.
D.Phil. Research and Further Training: During Hilary Term, students will be working on their project
proposals and beginning their D.Phil. research project in one of the six academic Departments. Their
training programme will become focused on developing the specialised skills required to undertake
their independent research project. The choice of specialised courses will be determined by the
student along with the primary research supervisor, and with oversight by the DTP. Below is a list of
specialist courses we intend to offer at some point; however, we are keen to get recommendations
about additional courses. Specialist courses will run every other year so not everything in the list will
be offered each year.
Specialist Skills Training Courses – All Streams:
Optical spectroscopy
Earth surface-atmosphere
Inverse methods and Bayesian
Rates and timing of environmental
Biogeochemistry of environmental
Space instrumentation & remote
Modelling environmental systems
Materials characterisation &
Numerical mathematics and
computational modelling
Isotope tracers in environmental
Scientific programming
Critical natural resources
Scientific chronology development
Conducting meta-analyses
Geographical Information Systems
Specialist Skills Training Courses – Stream-specific:
Rapid biodiversity assessment
Ocean & climate dynamics
Global change & the terrestrial
Thermodynamics, aerosols and
Conservation biogeography
Biodiversity field survey
Ecological remote sensing
Geophysical fluid dynamics
Kinetics and thermodynamics
Radiative transfer and forcing
Asymptotics, scaling and stability
Page 3
Key Facts about the Oxford DTP in Environmental Research
Remote sensing and modelling of
earthquakes and volcanoes
Palaeoecological proxies
Sedimentary processes and
Students will be officially transferred to their new Departments by the end of their first year at
which time they will be expected to upgrade to DPhil student status. However, they will still
participate in cohort-wide training in professional skills, including career planning, publishing, and
public engagement and outreach.
Each student will be provided with funding for up to 3 ½ years and are expected to submit their
DPhil thesis by Hilary Term of their fourth year. Under extraordinary circumstances, students will be
allowed to apply for a six-month extension.
Annual Seminar Series: the DTP will offer a new seminar series entitled “Grand Challenges in
Environmental Research”. This series will run in Hilary term of each year, and be organised by the
incoming cohort. It will bring together academic researchers and partners from industry,
government and the third sector to lead a critical discussion of pressing issues in environmental
research (e.g. critical natural resources, climate feedbacks).
Partnering a DTP in Environmental Research Student:
The DTP has initiated relationships with a wide variety of research partners from the research,
commercial and third sector.
Birdlife International
Catholic Agency For Overseas
The Max Planck Institute for
Natural England
Operation Wallacea
The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
NERC Centre for Ecology and
European Centre for Medium
Range Weather Forecasting
NERC National Centre for
Atmospheric Science
The British Geological Survey
Science Oxford
The Rutherford Appleton Lab
The Met Office
Satellite Catapult, Harwell (tbc)
The British Geological Survey
Diamond Light Source (tbc)
The European Space Agency
NERC National Centre for Earth
The National Oceanography Centre
Shell Research
Bond Disaster Risk Reduction
Working Group
HR Wallingford (tbc)
We have launched a new partner area of our website where individual profiles of our partners are
visible which clearly state the ways in which each has indicated they would like to be involved.
There is also information for partners in this area. If any additional information would be useful,
please contact the DTP office (email below) and we will draft something.
We encourage our students to identify potential project partners and initiate contact. From 2015
we will be recommending that partners are approached and involved during the project design
process in term 1. We hope that this will create mutually beneficial relationships right from the
start, and encourage partners to be actively involved in the DTP from that stage through to cosupervising DPhil projects and then offering work placement opportunities, and/or offering research
Page 4
Key Facts about the Oxford DTP in Environmental Research
Establishing relationships will not be limited to this time, however. Projects develop and change
throughout their lifetime and it may be beneficial for partners to get involved at a later stage too.
The DTP will host a student conference to introduce the new cohort to all potential DTP research
supervisors and our research partners in early October. The aim of this conference is to facilitate
new links between Oxford researchers, the incoming DTP cohort and DTP partners. We will also
showcase the work of the first cohort at this event and hope that our partners will find that some of
the projects already underway are of interest.
We invite partners, and potential partners to visit the student pages, these can be filtered by
stream or keyword, to see which of our current projects might be a match and to involve students.
We are very happy for partners to contact students, and would be very grateful if we could be
copied into any such emails at [email protected]
NERC requires that one-third of our students must be converted to CASE studentship. To qualify as
a CASE partner, the organisation must commit a minimum of £1000 per year toward the studentship
and be involved in the research supervision and/or training. We hope that partners who have
helped to shape a D.Phil project that directly benefits their organisation will seriously consider
joining the CASE scheme to support their students, and future DTP funding by NERC.
If you know of a research partner that you think should be added to our list, please send details to
Victoria Forth ([email protected]).
Page 5

Key facts, Oxford DTP in Environmental Research 2015-2016