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Specialist Skills Training

Information about the specialist skills training, lectures and seminars, which are open to all MRC-funded students, can be found below.

department of biochemistry

The Department of Biochemistry offers a range of lectures and seminars that MRC-funded students can attend, including:


  • Undergraduate Lectures (Master of Biochemistry Course) General Lectures: 
    The Biochemistry department offers a wide range of undergraduate lectures that graduate students can attend. Students whose first degree is not in Biochemistry (e.g. those with a degree in physics, chemistry or maths) are encouraged to attend some of these lectures to fill in gaps in their knowledge.  A complete list of offered lectures can be found here

If MRC-funded students wish to attend the lectures they should contact the Undergraduate Teaching Administrator,, as well as the lecturer concerned.


There are some specialist skills training courses on offer at the Nuffield Department of Medicine, including:

  • Introduction to R Statistical Software: 
    How to use R for statistical analysis of data, with a particular focus on the analysis of genomic data and led by Dr Helen Lockstone. For further information please contact Isabel Schmidt.
  • Introduction to Research Computing: 
    Increasing volumes of data require increasingly sophisticated hardware and software for handling and analysis. This course will explore the possible resources in Oxford as well as the basic principles by which research computing facilties should operate. Led by Dr Robert Esnouf, Head of Research Computing at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics. For further information please contact Isabel Schmidt.

department of chemistry

There are a range of specialist skills training opportunities in the Department of Chemistry, such as:

  • Applied Statistics - Trinity Term
  • Biomolecular Simulation - Trinity Term
  • Chemical Informatics - Trinity Term
  • Quantum Mechanics in Condensed Phases - Trinity Term

More information about each of these training opportunities and others in the Department of Chemistry can be found in the Researcher Training Tool on WebLearn.

department of computer science

The Department of Computer Science runs a series of CDT and professional MSc one-week courses which are available to MRC-funded students. Including topics such as:

  • Computer Security
  • Ethics and Computer Technology
  • GPU Programming
  • Project Management

These courses are subject to availability and for further information you should contact Julie SheppardThere are also a selection of lectures that MRC-funded students can attend, including: 

  • Computational Biology Seminar Series: 
    A joint seminar series between the Computational Biology Group in Computer Science and the Wolfson Centre for Mathematical Biology in the Mathematical Institute. For further information including dates, times and location click here.
  • Mathematical Biology and Ecology Seminar Series: 
    A joint seminar series between the Computational Biology Group in Computer Science and the Wolfson Centre for Mathematical Biology in the Mathematical Institute. For further information click here
  • There are a range of taught MSc courses which are currently offered. A complete list of taught courses can be found here. Further information and bookings can be made by contacting Sarah Retz.

Diamond light source - nuffield department of medicine

Diamond offers a series of training courses for data acquisition and analysis in macromolecular crystallography (MX), biological solution scattering (BioSAXS), synchrotron radiation circular dichroism (SRCD) and infrared microspectroscopy.  In addition to this, there are other specialised training courses with different technical focuses and these will be open to MRC-funded students from across Oxford to attend. For further information click here or contact Events for specific details.


The Department of Experimental Psychology offers a range of lectures, seminars and workshops that MRC-funded students can attend. These include:

  • Department of Experimental Psychology seminar series and post-seminar discussion for 1st year DPhil students - Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity Terms
  • DPhil Seminar Series, presentations by 2nd/3rd year students - Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity Terms
  • MatLab Programming module - Michaelmas Term
  • Statistical Theory and Methods module (lectures) - Michaelmas Term
  • Statistical Theory and Methods module (workshops) - Michaelmas Term and Hilary Term

Please contact the Graduate Studies Administrator for more information or to sign up.


The Department of Materials offers a wide range of specialist skills training for MRC-funded students. Further information on these courses will be provided shortly.


The Department of Mathematics has a wide selection of lectures, seminars and courses available to MRC-funded students. Further information on these lectures, seminars and courses can be found here. To sign up contact Sandhya Patel


The Radcliffe Department of Medicine hosts a series of specialist skills training. Up to date information on the training that is provided can be found here

MRC Harwell

MRC Harwell offers a range of specialist skills training, including:

  • MRC Harwell Mouse Genetics Course (2 day course):
    Training in mouse genetics and the use of the mouse for modelling human disease. 
  • GA Colony Management: 
    Managing genetically altered animals and covers all aspects of maintaining genetically stable colonies and experimental strategies. 
  • Home Office Module Training:
    Royal Society of Biology accredited PIL A/B Home Licence course for mice. Required in order to hold Home Office Licences to work with animals. 
  • Home Office Module Training:
    PIL C anaesthesia/surgery course. For further information contact 
  • Specific training as appropriate in mouse phenotyping techniques:
    The Mary Lyon Centre offers extensive phenotyping facilities covering a wide range of diseases, visit MRC Harwell for more information.

For further information about these training programmes, please contact MRC Harwell.


The Department of Oncology invites MRC-funded students to attend MSc lectures that are taking place in the department. For example:

  • MSc Radiation Biology Lectures: 
    Individuals can attend lectures in order to obtain up to date information on a range of fields from radiation physics, DNA damage and repair, radiation epidemiology, cancer imaging, tumour biology and current and future cancer treatments; specialising in advanced radiation oncology approaches.

For further information or to sign up please contact Graduate Studies.

Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences

The Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences offers some specialist skills training, including:

  • Randomised Controlled Trial Course:
    This course provides a thorough grounding in the principles and practice of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) for the evaluation of healthcare interventions. It will include talks and practicals to give examples and guidance on the methodology of trials using a problem-based learning approach.
  • Statistics:
    The aim of this two-day course is to develop core statistical skills for interpreting clinical and epidemiological data. It will provide knowledge of statistical methods and study design used in medical research. The course will enable participants to develop the skills needed to analyse data for their own research projects. This course is taught by staff from NDORMS.


The Department of Paediatrics runs a Good Clinical Practice training course which is open to MRC-funded students. For more information, please contact Simon Kerridge


The Sir William Dunn School of Pathology runs a range of specialist skills training as part of the Medical Sciences Skills Training catalogue. This includes:

  • BIAcore workshop  
  • Experimental Skills (for new DPhil students)   
  • Flow Cytometry workshop   
  • Imaging Electron workshops  
  • Introduction to the Genome Browser  
  • Primer on posters/presentations  
  • Proteomics workshops   
  • User Support for Radcliffe Science Library (covering resources and tools for research activities)

For further information of these training sessions, please contact Lucinda Risius.


The Department of Physics has a wide range of lectures and seminars available including:

  • Accelerator Physics: 
    This course includes lectures on the following topics- Types of Accelerators, Transverse Optics I, Applications of Accelerators,  Transverse Optics II, Longitudinal Dynamics, Momentum Effects, Lattice Design, Beams and Imperfections, Electron Dynamics I, Synchrotron Radiation I, Cavities I, Cavities II, Cavities III,  Beam Instrumentation, Synchrotron Radiation II, Wigglers and Undulators, RF Cavity Design,  Laser ion sources. For further information, contact Kim Proudfoot.
  • Advanced Quantum Mechanics:
    This course includes lectures on the following topics- Review of Fourier transformations, Dirac-delta functions, bra and ket notation and Green-functions/propagators (concepts). Units. Contour integration in the complex plane. A review of Special Relativity, 4-vectors, co-variant and contra-variant transformation properties, and the 4-vectors with either. Lorentz-scalars, and tensors, E-M tensor and transformation properties of E and B fields. Time-dependent perturbation theory, and Fermi's Golden rule. Rates and cross-sections. Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. Operator substitution in p2c2+m2c4, Klein-Gordan equation. Negative energy solutions probability current. Motivation for a relativistic equation linear in the time derivative. Derivation of the Dirac Equation. Gamma matrices, simple free particle solutions of the Dirac equation, interpretation of spinor components etc. Helicity eigenstates. Introduction of the electromagnetic field into the Dirac and Klein-Gordan equations, p->(p-eA/c). For further information, contact Kim Proudfoot.
  • Advanced Quantum Theory: 
    This course includes lectures on the following topics- Path integrals in Quantum Mechanics; the propagator. Path Integrals in Quantum Statistical Mechanics; correlation functions; perturbation theory; Feynman diagrams. Path Integrals and Transfer Matrices. Transfer matrix approach to the Ising Model. Second quantisation. Ideal Fermi gas in second quantization. Weakly interacting Bose gas: Bogoliubov theory; superfluidity. Spinwaves in a ferromagnet. Landau theory of phase transitions.
  • Astrophysical gas dynamics: 
    Principles of hydrodynamics. Equilibrium and stability of fluid systems under gravity. Waves. Shocks.Viscous flows. Applications: star formation, blast waves, winds, accretion discs. 
  • Computational and statistical methods: 
    Overview of basic numerical methods used in astrophysics and astrophysical data analysis.  Topics include numerical algorithms (N-body, SPH/grid-based, radiation transport, numerical relativity)  and statistical methods (maximum likelihood, Bayesian inference, error estimation).
  • Computational Methods in Condensed Matter Physics: 
    This course is structured around a specific piece of research and includes examples of least-squares refinement, computer simulation, correlation functions and Fourier transforms. The course is practical, includes problem classes, and is assessed through a final piece of written work in the style of a Physical Review Letter article. 
  • Condensed Matter Major Option:
    This 4th year condensed matter physics option covers all the topics introduced in the 3rd year course, but at an academically much more satisfying level. The course is primarily aimed at those interested in pursuing a research career, and is designed to take you to a level where you can comprehend research publications over a wide range of areas.
  • Condensed Matter Physics Leading Edge Experimental Techniques: 
    Experimental techniques used by condensed matter research groups in the Clarendon Laboratory are presented in a series of individual, self-contained lectures. The topics described include neutron scattering, photoluminescence, synchrotron radiation, terahertz spectroscopy, muon-spin rotation, photonic bandstructure and carbon nanotubes. 
  • Engineering Quantum Devices: 
    Applying quantum physics beyond the microscopic domain. 
  • Foundations of QIP:
    Including basic concepts, error correction and scaling.
  • Groups and Representations: 
    This course includes lectures on the following- Basics on groups, representations, Schur's Lemma, representations of finite groups, Lie groups, Lie algebras, Lorentz and Poincare groups, SU(n), SO(n), spinor representations, roots, classification of simple Lie algebras, weights, representations and Dynkin formalism. 
  • Hamiltonian Dynamics:
    This is an eight lecture course which introduces the essentials of Analytical Mechanics. The aim is to provide the background necessary for students studying advanced beam dynamics or particle physics. The basics of Lagrangian Mechanics, Hamiltonian Mechanics, Canonical Transformations, Hamilton-Jacobi theory and Perturbation theory are covered. The first four lectures are general mechanics and appropriate for particle and accelerator physics students, whilst the last four lectures concentrate on applications for accelerator physicists. A problems class will also be arranged for accelerator physics students. For further information, contact Kim Proudfoot.
  • Introduction into the Oxford Quantum Hub:
    Networked Quantum Information Technologies (NQIT): A general introduction into quantum technologies, with particular focus on the Oxford Quantum Technologies hub.
  • Introduction to Symmetries: 
    This course of 7 lectures (plus 1 examples' class) is intended for first year graduate students in experimental Particle and Nuclear Physics. It aims to give an informal introduction to the general subject of symmetries in quantum systems, and to provide the basis for a "practical" knowledge of the most common continuous symmetry groups and their representations, as used in particle physics. The course will assume knowledge of basic non-relativistic quantum mechanics (e.g. hermitian and unitary operators, eigenvalues, constants of motion, degeneracy, spin-½ formalism), of the mathematics of vectors and matrices, and of four-vectors in Special Relativity. For further information, contact Kim Proudfoot.
  • Nonequilibrium Statistical Physics:
    This course covers the following- Stochastic Langevin dynamics. Brownian motion. Nonequilibrium kinetics. Master equation. Fokker-Planck equation. Kramers rate theory and first-passage time. Brownian ratchets. Fluctuation theorem. Mean-field theory of reaction-diffusion processes. Pattern formation. Kuramoto model, synchronization transition. Stochastic field theory. Dynamical renormalization group.
  • Observational techniques: 
    Overview of instruments and observational techniques across the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • Organic Electronics and Semiconductor Devices:  
    A range of topics associated with molecular and crystalline semiconductors and applications. The student will obtain useful background level of understanding for conducting research in the field of optoelectronics and devices, and for appreciating the broader research literature.
  • Particle Detectors and Electronics: 
    This course includes lectures on the following topics- Electronics (Basic architectural elements, Typical tasks for electronics, Racks, Crates, Protocols, Pulse bouncing, boards, design methods, technologies and trade-offs, Trigger Systems, Hierarchy).  Opto-electronics (Data transmission, fibre optics). Techniques for low T, Conventional Scintillator detectors. For further information, contact Kim Proudfoot.
  • Particle Physics Major Option:
    The aim of the course is to give you a good grounding in the basic ideas of the Standard Model (SM) of Particle Physics, together with an understanding of key experimental techniques and a very brief introduction to the physics of particle accelerators. During the course and especially the last few lectures, the need to go beyond the SM is emphasised. 
  • Physics of Atmospheres and Oceans:  
    An introduction to the ways in which physics helps us understand and interpret a wide range of atmospheric and oceanic phenomena.
  • Quantum Fields in Experimental Condensed Matter Physics:
    A brief introduction to quantum field theory for first-year graduate students in experimental condensed matter physics. The course assumes undergraduate quantum mechanics and undergraduate condensed matter physics.
  • Quantum Optics:
    The application of ultrafast optics to study quantum phenomena in light and in matter, and at the interface between them.
  • Radiative Processes:
    Emission line formation and analysis; continuous and absorption line spectra; cosmic dust and extinction. Physics of interactions between high-energy particles and radiation (synchrotron, inverse-Compton, thermal bremsstrahlung). The interstellar and intergalactic medium. 
  • Topological Quantum Theory:
    This course covers- Particle statistics beyond bosons and fermions. Qubits and Toric Code. Discrete Gauge Theory. Structure of TQFT: Fusion, F and R. Topological Quantum Computation. Quantum Hall Effects. Berry Phases. Conformal Field Theory for Pedestrians. Topological Band Structures.


The Department of Plant Sciences offers some specialist skills training, such as:

  • Plant Diversity: 
    The aim of this course is to equip the student with the skills to place any plant into one of the major groups of land plants and to introduce the tools needed to identify plants to genera. This practical course will introduce the main groups of land plants, illustrate their important characteristics and illustrate general evolutionary trends as revealed by the most recent developments in phylogenetics. There will be four 3-hour sessions. The first session will be a general introduction to the Herbaria. The second will provide an overview of land plant diversity; the third will focus on the major groups of flowering plants; the final session will involve a more detailed introduction to important families of flowering plants. This course takes place in October. Total contact time 12 hours. 

For further information contact the Department of Plant Sciences.

nuffield department of population health

The Nuffield Department of Population Health has made podcasts available for statistics and epidemiology, and accompanying course material, for the MSc Global Health Sciences. To access this material through Weblearn, please contact the Graduate Studies Office.

Department of Psychiatry

The Department of Psychiatry runs a Psy-Ethics teaching and advisory programme, co-ordinated by Prof Ilina Singh. This addresses the ethical and societal impacts of neuroscience research. For further information, contact Rose Mortimer.

department of zoology

The Department of Zoology offers a range of specialist skills training. This includes courses such as:

  • Introduction to R Stats 
  • R4All Statistics Course

Further information about the courses can be found here. The Department of Zoology also hosts weekly graduate training seminars. The schedule can be found here and for further information about all training, contact the Graduate Office.

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