Course structure and content
All streams follow a similar structure. This comprises an induction period, two 5-month research projects and a core programme including grant writing, technical workshops, journal clubs and transferrable skills. Many elements of the core programme (e.g. grant writing) are common to all streams, while others are stream specific.
Please note that Postgraduate Diplomas and Certificates for part-completion are not available for this course.
In the two week induction period, students are given general orientation information and choose their first research project. The induction afternoon includes registration, health and safety information, introduction to key members of the faculty, a description of the core programme and an explanation of assessment. Project lists are also distributed at this time. A project fair is held in which potential supervisors present their labs and potential project outlines in a format similar to a conference poster session. This gives students the opportunity to meet and chat informally with potential supervisors and PhD/postdoctoral scientists from their groups. At the end of the induction period, students choose their first project.
In many cases, students' work has formed key parts of subsequent publications on which students have been co-authors.
— Prof. Nigel Gooderham
Please click here for a list of recent publications.
Each student will complete two 5 month projects during the year, designed to give practical experience of laboratory research. The experience gained will help in developing and focussing research skills in modern biomedical research laboratories. Students are free to choose either unrelated or related projects. The two chosen projects are undertaken in different laboratories to ensure exposure to different research environments. During each research project, the student becomes a full member of the supervisors research group and will attend lab meetings, research seminars in the same way as PhD students and post-doctoral staff. This gives students a good idea of what it is like to be part of a professional research group later in their careers.
Each project is written up and formally evaluated. Project 1 is written up in the style of a thesis. Students additionally present their work as a poster, in a similar format to those presented at international conferences. Project 2 is written up in the form of a concise scientific paper. Students also present their work as an oral presentation, again, in a similar format to that required at scientific conferences.
Students from each stream come together once a week for core programme sessions. This gives the class a feeling of cohesion and allows students to meet and discuss common issues with their peers.
The core programme is intended to expose students to a wider range of techniques and scientific areas than they may come across in their research projects. It also teaches generic research skills such as grant writing, peer review, information search and retrieval strategies, safety issues, intellectual property, ethics, bioinformatics and transferrable skills such as presentation, writing and computing.
The grant writing exercise constitutes the third piece of assessed work students will undertake during the MRes course. This exercise is intended to give the student an idea of the grant writing process from the initial idea through submission of the proposal to peer review and final decision. The course will cover several aspects including: why do we write grants at all, what are the key elements of a well written grant, what issues should you consider when applying for a grant, generating hypotheses and aims, putting together a research plan, information required by funding bodies, coordinating the team, costing the proposal and the peer review process. Students work together in teams and write and submit their grants individually.
These will provide practical training in advanced research methods, giving students exposure to techniques which they might otherwise not be exposed to through their projects. Each session is lead by an expert from one of the participating labs and consists of an explanation of the technique, followed by a practical demonstration, often with hands-on experience.
In these sessions, students will meet to review and discuss relevant research papers. Each session will be lead by a senior researcher who will suggest papers for discussion. Typically, in each session, two students will each present one paper. The journal clubs make students aware of a variety of biomedical research fields outside that of their immediate project and are often useful in helping them choose the subject of their second project.
Students will be expected to attend departmental seminar programmes. This will include presentations provided by outside speakers.
Students are required to take a number of transferrable skills courses during the year. These courses, organised by the Imperial Graduate Schools, offer training in areas such as academic writing, presentation skills, interllectual property, science research and integrity, research design, science and the media, networking etc.
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