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Researcher Development Programme (RDP)

Researcher Development Programme (RDP) course timetable

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Sun 24 Sep – Thu 16 Nov

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September 2017

Wed 27
Writing an Academic Report (Life Sciences ) [Places] 10:00 - 12:30 PPD, Revans Room

Your research is going well, you feel you are making progress, but looming on the horizon is the write up...

Aimed at those in their first year of study (PhD / Masters / Rotation students), this workshop is designed to get you thinking and working effectively on writing up your research. How do you start? What is expected? How do you make it work for you? These and many other important questions, hints and tips will be addressed in this half-day session that will help you start to learn and apply the habits of a productive writer.

This course replaces "Writing Your First Year Report" and is designed to be more inclusive of the various programmes of study in Cambridge

Outcomes:

  • Understand the standard forms and functions of academic reports
  • Start planning the structure of your report
  • Experience the benefits of editing and providing feedback on writing
Thu 28
Effective Undergraduate Supervision (Life Sciences) [Places] 13:30 - 16:30 PPD, Fawcett Room

Looking back at your experience of education you can probably remember those teachers and lecturers who were excellent. We remember the ones who were good because they have left a lasting impact on us; shaping both our learning in the past and our approach as teachers. Supervising undergraduate students at Cambridge can be one of the most rewarding activities for PhDs and Postdocs and this course is designed to make sure that you can offer your best and hopefully be one of those memorable teachers for someone else.

This blended workshop incorporates personal reflection on teaching practice, discussion of real teaching scenarios, a chance to ask questions of an experienced supervisor and access to practical information about organising and carrying out your supervisions.

This training is required by many colleges before you can carry out supervisions and is always a popular course.

About the trainer:

The course trainer is Dr Ben Murton who has over 14 years of teaching experience in Cambridge and was an undergraduate here as well. He is now a Fellow and Director of Studies at St John's College and a tutor on the Teaching Associates' Programme. If you have any specific questions you are welcome to contact him before the course on Ben.Murton@admin.cam.ac.uk

October 2017

Thu 12
Postdocs: Sustaining & Expanding Your Creativity new [Places] 10:00 - 12:00 The Postdoc Centre, Eastwood Room @ Mill Lane

How do you keep ideas flowing? Academia calls for researchers to generate original ideas and make novel contributions. Indeed, maintaining creativity is a key part of career progression. But how do you continue to come up with new ideas and questions or see fresh areas of research, especially while under the daily pressures of professional obligations?

The purpose of this experiential workshop is first to explore the subject of creativity and then to try out and explore different ways of thinking and practices that might help facilitate the generation of more ideas. We will also look closely at the connection between creativity and risk-taking and the great potential of this link. This course is for postdocs wanting to understand and expand their own creative minds.


Outcomes:

  • Reflect on the importance of continuing to cultivate creativity.
  • Explore ways of thinking and practices that help in the generation of ideas.
  • See the connection between creativity and risk-taking.
Effective Undergraduate Supervision (Life Sciences) [Places] 13:30 - 16:30 PPD, Fawcett Room

Looking back at your experience of education you can probably remember those teachers and lecturers who were excellent. We remember the ones who were good because they have left a lasting impact on us; shaping both our learning in the past and our approach as teachers. Supervising undergraduate students at Cambridge can be one of the most rewarding activities for PhDs and Postdocs and this course is designed to make sure that you can offer your best and hopefully be one of those memorable teachers for someone else.

This blended workshop incorporates personal reflection on teaching practice, discussion of real teaching scenarios, a chance to ask questions of an experienced supervisor and access to practical information about organising and carrying out your supervisions.

This training is required by many colleges before you can carry out supervisions and is always a popular course.

About the trainer:

The course trainer is Dr Ben Murton who has over 14 years of teaching experience in Cambridge and was an undergraduate here as well. He is now a Fellow and Director of Studies at St John's College and a tutor on the Teaching Associates' Programme. If you have any specific questions you are welcome to contact him before the course on Ben.Murton@admin.cam.ac.uk

Mon 16
Map your Postdoc Journey NOW! new [Places] 09:30 - 12:30 The Postdoc Centre, Eastwood Room @ Mill Lane

Have you started a postdoc at Cambridge? Now is the time to create a plan for how you would like it to unfold. In this workshop, we will consider how to navigate the research landscape, how to think strategically about your strengths, and how to develop mental and emotional discipline for coping with how demanding and competitive the research environment can be. We will explore case studies illustrating that there’s no one recipe for success, but there are common ingredients. You will identify potential obstacles that might stand in your way as well as enablers that will aid your career progression. This workshop is for postdoctoral researchers who want to maximise their chances of succeeding in their chosen careers.


Outcomes:

  • Devise an action plan for the near future including how to deal with the unexpected
  • Learn how to identify enablers and obstacles to career progression and how to work with or around them
  • Begin to take charge of your own career path


Feedback:

“It encouraged an overall view of thinking about my career and what I want out of it and what I am good at. It also covered examples of people who stayed in academia as well as those who did not, so that I was able to consider the pros and cons of more than just one route.”

“I'm right at the start of my post-doc and it helped me to think about what I wanted to get out of the next few years in terms of my career.”

Tue 17
Effective Undergraduate Supervision (Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences) [Full] 14:00 - 17:00 17 Mill Lane, Seminar Room B


This course complements the supervising training and information your Department will provide. It is a course that consists of: an online module, which introduces practices and principles of undergraduate supervision at Cambridge, and a face-to-face workshop in which you will explore challenges and approaches to supervising.

By the end of this course you will know:

  • the purpose of supervisions at Cambridge
  • how to deal with common supervision scenarios
  • how to provide effective feedback
  • the practicalities of starting to supervise

Topics covered:

  • Introduction to supervising (including what supervisions are, format, preparing for them)
  • Background information for those who need it (British education system, Cambridge undergraduate system)
  • Role of a supervisor
  • Dealing with different supervision scenarios
  • Departmental information
  • Summary of what you have learnt
  • Practical tips and advice
  • Resources for ongoing support and information
Wed 18
Effective Undergraduate Supervision (Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences) [Places] 14:00 - 17:00 17 Mill Lane, Seminar Room B


This course complements the supervising training and information your Department will provide. It is a course that consists of: an online module, which introduces practices and principles of undergraduate supervision at Cambridge, and a face-to-face workshop in which you will explore challenges and approaches to supervising.

By the end of this course you will know:

  • the purpose of supervisions at Cambridge
  • how to deal with common supervision scenarios
  • how to provide effective feedback
  • the practicalities of starting to supervise

Topics covered:

  • Introduction to supervising (including what supervisions are, format, preparing for them)
  • Background information for those who need it (British education system, Cambridge undergraduate system)
  • Role of a supervisor
  • Dealing with different supervision scenarios
  • Departmental information
  • Summary of what you have learnt
  • Practical tips and advice
  • Resources for ongoing support and information
Map your Postdoc Journey NOW! new [Places] 14:00 - 17:00 Postdoc Centre, Newman Library @ Biomedical Campus

Have you started a postdoc at Cambridge? Now is the time to create a plan for how you would like it to unfold. In this workshop, we will consider how to navigate the research landscape, how to think strategically about your strengths, and how to develop mental and emotional discipline for coping with how demanding and competitive the research environment can be. We will explore case studies illustrating that there’s no one recipe for success, but there are common ingredients. You will identify potential obstacles that might stand in your way as well as enablers that will aid your career progression. This workshop is for postdoctoral researchers who want to maximise their chances of succeeding in their chosen careers.


Outcomes:

  • Devise an action plan for the near future including how to deal with the unexpected
  • Learn how to identify enablers and obstacles to career progression and how to work with or around them
  • Begin to take charge of your own career path


Feedback:

“It encouraged an overall view of thinking about my career and what I want out of it and what I am good at. It also covered examples of people who stayed in academia as well as those who did not, so that I was able to consider the pros and cons of more than just one route.”

“I'm right at the start of my post-doc and it helped me to think about what I wanted to get out of the next few years in terms of my career.”

Tue 24
Postdocs: An Initial Guide to Leadership new [Places] 10:00 - 12:00 The Postdoc Centre, Eastwood Room @ Mill Lane

Are you in a formal leadership role, or have you taken on leadership positions informally?

This workshop will help you to consider the variety of situations and contexts you find yourself leading in and guide you in understanding your leadership skills and abilities so that you can improve them and deploy them thoughtfully. We will look at a variety of meanings and views of leadership, discover the 4 elements of leadership, consider various leadership styles, and reflect on leadership within and out of research environment.

We would encourage you to take this workshop as a brief introduction to leadership before attending more in-depth workshops, including Postdocs: Self-Leadership and Postdocs: Leading Others.


Outcomes

  • Recognise own current skills and strengths in relation to developing further as a leader.
  • Review a range of definitions of, and styles of, leadership.
  • Apply to your own context.


Feedback from Michaelmas 2016:

“I found it interesting to define what leadership means and to understand the different styles there are.”

“It was a very interesting and different training which was very good to attend so as to know the skills to develop.”

Thu 26
Effective Undergraduate Supervision (Life Sciences) [Places] 13:30 - 16:30 Postdoc Centre, Newman Library @ Biomedical Campus

Looking back at your experience of education you can probably remember those teachers and lecturers who were excellent. We remember the ones who were good because they have left a lasting impact on us; shaping both our learning in the past and our approach as teachers. Supervising undergraduate students at Cambridge can be one of the most rewarding activities for PhDs and Postdocs and this course is designed to make sure that you can offer your best and hopefully be one of those memorable teachers for someone else.

This blended workshop incorporates personal reflection on teaching practice, discussion of real teaching scenarios, a chance to ask questions of an experienced supervisor and access to practical information about organising and carrying out your supervisions.

This training is required by many colleges before you can carry out supervisions and is always a popular course.

About the trainer:

The course trainer is Dr Ben Murton who has over 14 years of teaching experience in Cambridge and was an undergraduate here as well. He is now a Fellow and Director of Studies at St John's College and a tutor on the Teaching Associates' Programme. If you have any specific questions you are welcome to contact him before the course on Ben.Murton@admin.cam.ac.uk

Tue 31
Postdocs: Being Assertive and Making Yourself Heard new [Places] 09:30 - 11:30 The Postdoc Centre, Eastwood Room @ Mill Lane

Are you able to ask for the things you need and want? The career of a postdoc researcher is demanding, and it involves forging careful relationships with a variety of figures, from PIs to fellow researchers and peers to postgraduate students. Are you capable of asking for help from others? Do you spread yourself too thin by saying yes to others’ requests for support? This course is designed to help you develop an assertive mind-set and to communicate your needs in an honest, clear, and respectful way.


Outcomes:

  • Understand the benefits of being assertive and the difference between assertive, aggressive, and passive thinking and behaviour
  • Know what assertiveness looks and sounds like
  • Develop skills in communicating assertively in day-to-day conversation


Feedback:

“It was one of the best training sessions I have attended while at the University. Went back to the lab and recommended it to my colleagues.”

“[This course] highlighted a new way of thinking/mindset that I was not very aware of. It gave me confidence that I can be more assertive.”

November 2017

Wed 1
Postdocs: Writing a Grant Application with Impact [Places] 09:30 - 12:30 The Postdoc Centre, Eastwood Room @ Mill Lane

Do you know how to write a successful research grant application? This course is designed for postdocs with little or no experience of getting their research funded. It will explore the current research environment and impact agenda and help you understand how research is funded. You will also experience the process of reviewing applications and gain valuable and timely knowledge about how to get research funded.


Outcomes:

  • Learn tips and strategies to help you to get your current & future projects funded
  • Understand how proposals are assessed by funders
  • Gain experience of reviewing funding applications
  • Gain information about translational research funding and support available to post-docs


Feedback:

“Both the online resources presented, and the focused training sessions were well structured and passed through the importance of well-structured proposal, and often overlooked issues such as impact.”

“[I liked] seeing a grant from another discipline, to realise that a well-written grant (even if not perfect) can be understood also by people external to the field.”

Thu 2


This course complements the supervising training and information your Department will provide. It is a course that consists of: an online module, which introduces practices and principles of undergraduate supervision at Cambridge, and a face-to-face workshop in which you will explore challenges and approaches to supervising.

By the end of this course you will know:

  • the purpose of supervisions at Cambridge
  • how to deal with common supervision scenarios
  • how to provide effective feedback
  • the practicalities of starting to supervise

Topics covered:

  • Introduction to supervising (including what supervisions are, format, preparing for them)
  • Background information for those who need it (British education system, Cambridge undergraduate system)
  • Role of a supervisor
  • Dealing with different supervision scenarios
  • Departmental information
  • Summary of what you have learnt
  • Practical tips and advice
  • Resources for ongoing support and information
Fri 3
Starting Your PhD (Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences) [Places] 10:00 - 13:00 PPD, Revans Room

Starting your PhD might fill you with a range of emotions: from excitement at the thought of the intellectual pursuit, to trepidation of where to actually begin.

Why this course might make a difference
By complementing your departmental and supervisor support, the overall purpose of this intensive course for first-year students is to help you make the best possible start to your PhD that you can. Using practical exercises to clarify your thinking, the course explores three essential questions to achieve this purpose: the ‘Why?’ the ‘What?’ and the ‘How?’ of the PhD.

Outcomes:
Within the overall purpose, the course outcomes include:

  • Knowing broadly what’s involved in doing a PhD, and what a PhD is.
  • Having a definition of ‘Research’ that enables you to be effective.
  • Knowing how to plan, so that you can adapt to the inevitable changes in your research project.

Feedback from 2016-17:

"After the reality of being a PhD student has set in, and the many details to attend to, it was a timely event to refocus on the broader overarching questions of what, why and how."

"I now have a broad understanding on where to start.“

Tue 7
Postdocs: Introduction to Coaching and Mentoring new [Places] 10:00 - 12:00 Postdoc Centre, Newman Library @ Biomedical Campus

Do the terms ‘coaching’ and ‘mentoring’ intrigue you? Do you want to understand how they can be part of your future progression? There are many opportunities and programmes across this university for postdocs to get involved in coaching and mentoring in different ways. The overall purpose is to help postdocs understand the importance of being coached and mentored, and/or being a coach or a mentor. This short workshop introduces these two methods to explore what they are and how they can be helpful to postdocs. It will also direct you to where you can access these opportunities at Cambridge University.


Outcomes:

  • Describe the terms ‘coaching’ and ‘mentoring’ in more detail.
  • Differentiate between the two and identify situations for each that are specifically relevant to postdocs.
  • Compose a way forward to plan for coaching and mentoring to be part of your personal, professional and career progression.


Feedback:

“Great trainer - very professional, supportive and helpful.”

“This was a great coaching and mentoring session. I liked the interaction with other people.”

“I like the approach to the topics covered. [There was] useful information that I would like to explore more to enhance my coaching and mentoring.”

Wed 8
Postdocs: Assisting with PhD Supervision new [Places] 10:00 - 12:00 The Postdoc Centre, Eastwood Room @ Mill Lane


Do you supervise PhD students? Though not official supervisors, many postdocs are involved in the process of supervising PhD students. You face the challenging task of fostering creativity, delivering feedback, and managing a supervisor-student relationship. This workshop explores the principles of good supervision, the art of delivering critical feedback for best results, and the teacher/learner roles of the supervisor-supervisee relationship. It is aimed at postdocs looking to develop their skills in effective and inspired pedagogy.

Outcomes:

  • Understand the teacher/learner roles central to the supervision of PhD students
  • Explore good practice for delivering feedback
  • Learn techniques for fostering creativity in students

Feedback:

“I got to know the procedure, approaches, common problems and solutions to the problems of PhD supervision, and [to understand that] supervision is a balancing act.”

“The framework introduced to describe different aspects of supervising a research student was really useful.”

Procrastination Workshop new [Full] 10:00 - 12:00 17 Mill Lane, Seminar Room E

While there might be a simple ‘cure’ for procrastination – just get started on the things you’re putting off – for many of us, this simple ‘cure’ is not necessarily easy.

Why this course might make a difference
The overall purpose of this intensive, practical workshop is to help you manage your procrastination.

Outcomes:
With this aim in mind, specific outcomes of the course include:

Raising our awareness of:

  • What procrastination actually is
  • Our reasons for procrastinating and our habits when we do so
  • Our rationalizations when procrastinating
  • Two key steps to overcoming our procrastination
  • Practical strategies and tips

Feedback from 2016-17:
“It helped me realize some deep reasons that cause me to procrastinate.“

“It made me think of all the ways in which I procrastinate and gave me several tools and ideas to help me improve my focus.”

Solving Research Problems Creatively [Places] 14:00 - 16:00 PPD, Revans Room

While we might assume that creativity is a fixed innate ability – stereotypically leading to the creation of poems and paintings – in the context of our research, the creative thinking process that underpins creativity can be seen as a skill to be developed to solve problems large and small. Indeed, with this creative thinking process at the heart of research, research itself can be viewed as an inherently creative act.

Why this course might make a difference
The overall purpose of this intensive, practical workshop is to help you develop your creative thinking skills to help you solve research problems.

Outcomes:
With this aim in mind, the course outcomes are:

  • To give you a systematic creative-thinking process for solving problems.
  • The opportunity to apply and develop a creative thinking process, by working in pairs on a challenge.
  • To explore your assumptions about your own creativity.

Feedback from 2016-17:
“It had so many ideas and mnemonics for having a creative and constructive brainstorm, with outputs!”

“This training event showed me how little time brainstorming actually takes and how it boosts creative process. I literally felt that after some warming up, my brain started to give me more and more pictures-ideas in two minutes each time.”

Thu 9


This course complements the supervising training and information your Department will provide. It is a course that consists of: an online module, which introduces practices and principles of undergraduate supervision at Cambridge, and a face-to-face workshop in which you will explore challenges and approaches to supervising.

By the end of this course you will know:

  • the purpose of supervisions at Cambridge
  • how to deal with common supervision scenarios
  • how to provide effective feedback
  • the practicalities of starting to supervise

Topics covered:

  • Introduction to supervising (including what supervisions are, format, preparing for them)
  • Background information for those who need it (British education system, Cambridge undergraduate system)
  • Role of a supervisor
  • Dealing with different supervision scenarios
  • Departmental information
  • Summary of what you have learnt
  • Practical tips and advice
  • Resources for ongoing support and information
Effective Undergraduate Supervision (Life Sciences) [Places] 13:30 - 16:30 PPD, Fawcett Room

Looking back at your experience of education you can probably remember those teachers and lecturers who were excellent. We remember the ones who were good because they have left a lasting impact on us; shaping both our learning in the past and our approach as teachers. Supervising undergraduate students at Cambridge can be one of the most rewarding activities for PhDs and Postdocs and this course is designed to make sure that you can offer your best and hopefully be one of those memorable teachers for someone else.

This blended workshop incorporates personal reflection on teaching practice, discussion of real teaching scenarios, a chance to ask questions of an experienced supervisor and access to practical information about organising and carrying out your supervisions.

This training is required by many colleges before you can carry out supervisions and is always a popular course.

About the trainer:

The course trainer is Dr Ben Murton who has over 14 years of teaching experience in Cambridge and was an undergraduate here as well. He is now a Fellow and Director of Studies at St John's College and a tutor on the Teaching Associates' Programme. If you have any specific questions you are welcome to contact him before the course on Ben.Murton@admin.cam.ac.uk

Postdocs: Strategies for Building Resilience new [Places] 14:00 - 16:00 Postdoc Centre, Newman Library @ Biomedical Campus

The life of a postdoc can be inherently stressful, with making applications for research grants, publishing and maintaining a work life balance, as well as coping with the precariousness of temporary contracts or visa regulations. Postdocs need an ample supply of resilience to deal with the ups and downs of being a professional researcher.

The aim of this workshop is to help you build emotional resilience by further developing coping strategies to overcome challenges. We will focus on what constitutes resilience, identifying your current coping strategies, and using theories of resilience to strengthen your ability to deal with whatever life and work throws at you, whilst maintaining a good level of wellbeing.


Outcomes

  • Recognise that you already have emotional resilience and use strategies on an ongoing basis.
  • Cultivate further effective coping strategies for various contexts.
  • Discover how to use a range of tools and techniques to increase your resilience.


Feedback:

“I would like more courses like this! Thank you!”

“Really good framework for applying it personally.”

“Interacting in groups worked well while exploring real-life examples.”

Tue 14
Postdocs: Self-Leadership new [Places] 10:00 - 12:00 The Postdoc Centre, Eastwood Room @ Mill Lane

The first step toward confident leadership is assured and well-balanced self-leadership. Are you really aware of how you lead yourself every day? This workshop aims to inspire you to be a self-leader by developing strategies to extend your awareness and confidence to take action and design the professional outcomes you are looking for. We will encourage you to think about how to recognise patterns of your own behaviour that might hold you back so that you can have the understanding and tools to communicate yourself and your perspective with awareness and confidence. This will create a firm foundation on which to build your leadership of others.

This workshop leads onto Postdocs: Leading Others. We recommend that you do these workshops after having first completed Postdocs: An Initial Guide to Leadership.


Outcomes

  • Explore and experience your skills, strengths, abilities and style in detail within your individual context.
  • Consider how to extend your own self-leadership on a daily basis through a variety of strategies.
  • Apply self-knowledge, awareness and techniques to your repertoire of leadership skills.
Wed 15
Starting Your PhD (Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences) [Places] 14:00 - 17:00 PPD, Revans Room

Starting your PhD might fill you with a range of emotions: from excitement at the thought of the intellectual pursuit, to trepidation of where to actually begin.

Why this course might make a difference
By complementing your departmental and supervisor support, the overall purpose of this intensive course for first-year students is to help you make the best possible start to your PhD that you can. Using practical exercises to clarify your thinking, the course explores three essential questions to achieve this purpose: the ‘Why?’ the ‘What?’ and the ‘How?’ of the PhD.

Outcomes:
Within the overall purpose, the course outcomes include:

  • Knowing broadly what’s involved in doing a PhD, and what a PhD is.
  • Having a definition of ‘Research’ that enables you to be effective.
  • Knowing how to plan, so that you can adapt to the inevitable changes in your research project.

Feedback from 2016-17:

"After the reality of being a PhD student has set in, and the many details to attend to, it was a timely event to refocus on the broader overarching questions of what, why and how."

"I now have a broad understanding on where to start.“

Thu 16
Better Presentations: A Practical Guide [Full] 14:00 - 16:30 PPD, Revans Room

Giving presentations is an essential skill for a researcher, be it in your deparment, at a major conference, or in your next job interview! You know your subject but sometimes issues of performance and clarity stop you being your best. Perhaps you can't project your voice, perhaps you are terrified of the Q&A, perhaps you feel your slides let you down, or perhaps you just don't know what to do to get better.

This is a highly interactive workshop that requires you to throw yourself into the activities. Everyone will be involved as we apply some of the material from the online Presentation and Performance toolkit and try it out in a safe and supportive environment.

The workshop is especially designed for those who feel less confident with the performance aspects of giving presentations. If you are comfortable standing up and talking in front of others then we recommend starting with the online materials.

Postdocs: Effective Research Presentations (Group Workshop) new [Places] 14:30 - 16:30 Postdoc Centre, Newman Library @ Biomedical Campus

Would you like an opportunity to try out a presentation before presenting it live to your key audience?

This interactive workshop, which centres on you delivering of a five-minute presentation, will support participants to communicate research engagingly and effectively. In addition to reviewing useful patterns and styles of presentation, you will have the chance to observe others in action, as each participant presents their five-minute presentation. This workshop is for postdocs who want to achieve the greatest impact while presenting their work and to improve their public-speaking skills within a safe and collaborative environment. Feedback will be given to each participant.


Outcomes:

  • Improve on designing and delivering a successful presentation
  • Consider how to understand and engage your audience
  • Gain constructive feedback on how you present and further develop your style