Postgraduate students based at the Natural History Museum are registered with a university from which they receive the postgraduate degree. The choice of the associated university is made on the appropriateness of the chosen university supervisor, including consideration of field of interest and relationship with the Museum.
Training and supervision are the responsibilities of the Natural History Museum and the partner university. The Natural History Museum policy is that students will follow the Natural History Museum programme of training and supervision unless Museum's postgraduate student liaison officer is fully convinced that the programme provided by the university is as good and as fully accessible to the student as that of the Museum. In the latter case, the Museum will monitor student progress under the university scheme.
Postgraduate students at the Museum benefit from having both a university supervisor and a Museum supervisor, who, together with an independent chairperson, constitute the student's Advisory Committee which has primary responsibility for implementing the training and supervision program. The chairperson is either a university or Natural History Museum staff member, as deemed most appropriate. Additional support for both supervisors and students is provided at the Natural History Museum by its line management system and by departmental and Museum student liaison officers. The Natural History Museum supervisory ensures adequate support for students within the Museum when the chairperson of their Advisory Committee is not Museum staff.
The fundamental aims of the Natural History Museum training and supervision programme for postgraduate students are:
1. to enable students to achieve their full potential in their professional development;
2. to ensure that the training needs of students are identified and addressed in a timely manner;
3. to ensure the successful completion of postgraduate studies in an acceptable timescale.
Postgraduate students at the Natural History Museum typically have close and regular contact with their supervisors and are encouraged to exploit the potential of the Museum's unparalleled resources in specialist skills and facilities in the life and earth sciences. Individual student programmes are structured around a core default Natural History Museum programme, which is as follows:
Month 0: The Museum and university supervisors make a preliminary assessment of the breakdown of required university/Natural History Museum training supervision.
Month 0/1: Students and supervisors receive protocols indicating what they may expect and what is expected of them. First meeting of the student and Advisory Committee to review the proposed research, determine initial formal and informal training needs and priorities, and to establish minimum requirements of student/supervisor contact hours.
Month 1: A one week Natural History Museum background course and two day induction course, which include training in Health and Safety, followed by a library induction course and customised instruction about the Internet and use of bibliographic sources (e.g. BIDS) and IT resources.
Months 1-6: Natural History Museum training courses in PC skills, Word, Excel, Access etc as and if required.
Month 6: Student gives10 minute seminar on proposed research and prepares brief report (one side A4). Second meeting of Advisory Committee reviews student progress.
Month 12: Student prepares first year report and prospectus. Third meeting of Advisory Committee reviews progress and decides whether to recommend continuation of registration, and reviews training needs.
Month 18: Student presents poster on research.
Month 22: Student prepares progress report. Fourth meeting of Advisory Committee reviews progress and makes recommendations on final research and attendance/presentations at relevant scientific meeting(s).
Month 28: Student prepares brief report on structure of thesis and presents seminar to members of Museum home department. Fifth meeting of Advisory Committee reviews progress and offers careers advice.
Month 36: Submission of thesis for examination. Feedback obtained from student on Natural History Museum training and supervision programme for quality assessment.