Postgraduate policy

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 Museum and the partner university.

The Museum policy is that students will follow the Museum programme of training and supervision unless the 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.


A student’s Advisory Committee, which has primary responsibility for implementing the training and supervision program, consists of:

  • a university supervisor
  • a Museum supervisor
  • an independent chairperson (either a university or Museum staff member)

Additional support for both supervisors and students is provided at the Museum by its line management system and by departmental and Museum student liaison officers.

The 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 Museum training and supervision programme for postgraduate students are:

  • to enable students to achieve their full potential in their professional development
  • to ensure that the training needs of students are identified and addressed in a timely manner
  • to ensure the successful completion of postgraduate studies in an acceptable timescale
Natural History Museum programme

Postgraduate students at the Natural History Museum 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 Museum programme, which you can explore below.

Year 1

Month 0: The Museum and university supervisors assess the breakdown of university/Museum training supervision.

Month 0/1: Students and supervisors learn 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 student and supervisor contact hours.

Month 1: A one week Museum background course and two day induction course, including training in Health and Safety, followed by a library induction course and customised instruction about the Internet, use of bibliographic sources (e.g. BIDS) and IT resources.

Months 1-6: Museum training courses in PC skills, Word, Excel, Access etc as required.

Month 6: Student gives a 10 minute seminar on their proposed research and prepares a 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.

Year 2

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 and presentations at relevant scientific meeting(s).

Year 3

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 from student on Museum training and supervision programme for quality assessment.