What to Expect

Supervisors expect you to:
  1. Take responsibility for your thesis – in the end it is your work and your supervisors are here to help you accomplish your research objectives, but not to do the thinking for you!
  2. Work hard – PhDs cannot be accomplished with only a 9-5 effort.  Imperial College is a top ranked University and we expect that students will strive to accomplish good work.
  3. Display initiative – ultimately, the person who drives the process and strives to understand the research area is you.  We expect you to be curious about your work and to think about how other ideas/work have an impact on the research you are doing.  In light of this, it is a requirement for you to attend all lab meetings, work in progress etc plus other seminars.  TO BE A SCIENTIST – YOU SHOULD BE CURIOUS ABOUT SCIENCE!
  4. Write papers (this is dependent on field of study) before you have submitted your thesis.  The process of writing enables you to develop skills which are useful when writing up your thesis, and the fact that you have had papers refereed/accepted by International journals satisfies the external examiner that you have what it takes!
  5. Be self-critical of your own work and results, and use these skills in being sceptical of results in the literature.
  6. Help colleagues (especially less experienced ones) in the laboratory to learn through discussions and demonstrations.
  7. Keep up with the literature in your field through searches on the computer every few months and by reading current papers.
  8. Write progress reports every 6 months detailing your results – to this end, you should be conscientious about keeping a laboratory notebook and regularly entering all your data into tables and Excel spreadsheets.
  9. Be aware of safety at all times and follow safety procedures, especially if you are working in a laboratory.
  10. Develop your skills and learn new ones by attending the transferable skills courses and lectures provided by the Graduate Schools, your own and other College departments/divisions/faculties and by any other external providers.
In return, as a student you can expect your supervisor to:
  1. Be supportive of you both intellectually and personally;
  2. Set up a viable project and ensure that you have a clear idea of aims and objectives and an initial work-plan;
  3. Provide an adequate work space for you;
  4. Be available (or provide an identified substitute) to talk about research problems at relatively short notice although, at certain times of the year, you may need to give a few days notice;
  5. Help and guide you extensively in your first year; help you in your second year; and be a sounding board in your third year.  The help is tapered as you develop confidence in your own abilities and research skills, to enable you to learn to work more on your own and to make more of your own decisions;
  6. Help develop your skills in technical writing, oral presentations, problem definition, statistical data analysis and critical literature reviews;
  7. Help enable you to attend at least one conference to present a paper;
  8. Provide adequate funds and/or facilities for your research project;
  9. Read your thesis thoroughly and make constructive comments on both style and intellectual content.
Together, students and supervisors are expected to:

Stick strictly to the College time-frame which allows a maximum of 4 years between registration and submission of the PhD thesis.