School of GeoSciences

E3 Doctoral Training Partnership


Our flexible training scheme has a strong multidisciplinary emphasis, facilitates scientific and professional growth, and develops a strong cohort identity.

It comprises both specialist scientific training and generic transferable and professional skills to personal career development. The ethos of our training programme is to support students in conducting world-class research and to foster excitement and creativity.


  • To develop students as excellent researchers and enable them to communicate this research internationally
  • To support student personal/professional/career development
  • To enable students to consider the wider impacts of their research
  • To enable the development of a strong and active student community in a multidisciplinary environment.


The programme is structured into four components based around a postgraduate credit system. Training is focused in Years 1-3 and optional opportunities for professional development are available in Year 4. All students will obtain a minimum of 180 E3 DTP training credits (c.45 days). These credits are acquired through a mixture of compulsory and optional training activities.

Generic PhD skills training

Library Research Suite

This part of the training programme provides research students with essential transferable and research-related skills.

Year 1 – Research Planning and Management in the GeoSciences
Workshops on a variety of themes including:
  • Managing your PhD and best practice in research
  • Project design
  • Writing skills to support the PhD and publications
  • Designing and implementing effective web pages
  • Fieldwork planning
  • Introduction to data management and analysis
  • Introduction to Matlab, R and Python for GeoScientists
  • Presentation skills.
Years 2 and 3
Further workshops on themes such as:
  • Writing a research paper
  • Preparing abstracts and posters for conferences
  • Researcher Careers and networking event with PhD alumni.
The School of GeoSciences Annual Postgraduate Research Conference
Held in March each year, this event is attended by all GeoSciences postgraduate research students, research and academic staff and external supervisors and sponsors. All 1st Year PhD students give oral presentations and 2nd Year PhD students present a research poster. Prizes are awarded for the best talks and posters and all presenters receive feedback from peers and staff.

E3 DTP training

Earth Observation Satellite

Our E3 DTP training provides focused support delivered by experts from across the E3 partnership.

Frontiers in Geosciences: 1st Year Semester 1
Introduction to fundamental research topics and techniques across the geosciences. Eight seminars from leading scientists across the E3 DTP on priority environmental science research topics including:
  • Climate change and the IPCC
  • Earthquakes and natural hazards
  • Oceanography and sea level change
  • Energy and waste
  • Carbon capture and storage
  • Ecosystem services
  • Geoengineering.
Numeracy, modelling and data management: 1st Year Semester 2
Seminars and both lab and web-based projects and practicals, including bespoke workshops, covering:
  • Working with Data
  • Introduction to Modelling
  • Experimental Design and Statistics
  • Programming with Python (optional)
  • Working with Unix (optional)
  • Multivariate Analysis (optional)
  • Developing and Applying a Numerical Model (optional)
  • High Performance Computing awareness (optional).
Introduction to impact: 2nd Year Semester 1
Mentored by business, media and public policy professionals and involving interactive case studies and project work, this course comprises five half-day sessions on:
  • An introduction to impact
  • How to communicate science – including the use of social media
  • Policy-relevant research impacts
  • Research to business impacts
  • Commercialising good research ideas.
Turning research into impact: 3rd Year Semester 1
This course draws on the skills gained during the Introduction to Impact course to help demonstrate to students how their research can deliver impact. It is delivered through seminars, coaching and a “pathways to impact” mixer event between students, E3 partners and external policy and business stakeholders.

Residential training

1st Year: induction to the E3 concept and world-class environmental research
Our 3-day residential induction course at the Firbush Point Field Centre, Loch Tay aims to:
  • Develop an understanding of the grand challenges of environmental science
  • Outline the role of NERC in addressing these challenges
  • Recognise critical skills gaps in the environmental sector
  • Enhance cohort building (including through outdoor activities such as kayaking and hill-walking).
2nd Year: Understanding the bigger picture: Improving creative thinking and problem solving
This 2-day programme includes guest lectures, seminars and skills sessions aimed at finding different approaches to problem solving and inspiring students to think in a way that will make their research more innovative. The course will be held in parallel with the Year 1 residential training to support inter-year cohort building.

3rd Year: Research outcomes and enhancing employability
The focus of this 2-day residential programme is dissemination of and feedback on research results between E3 students at this later stage in their PhD through a 1-day "mini-conference", followed by a day supporting PhD employability. PhD graduate employers are invited to inform the students of opportunities within their organisations and hold workshops and short interviews with candidates, with feedback provided.

NERC Training opportunities

NERC offer training courses to their PhD students throughout the year.

NERC Courses offered during 2018-19

Student and project specific research training

Biochar Pilot Plant

To allow flexibility in the training programme and to address individual needs, students select a minimum extra 60 credits from specialist courses available either through the E3 Partnership or further afield. Some students may wish to specialise in training elements that maximise their knowledge of impact, outreach, teaching or other more generic skills.

Optional Professional Internship Programme (PIP)

All students have the opportunity to undertake a funded three-month internship in a professional setting that does not necessarily relate directly to their PhD project. The placement could be located with one of our E3 partners or in other industry, business, policy maker, media, government agency, primary/secondary education organisations and will take place in Years 2-4 of the PhD. The aim of the PIP is to enable students to spend time working in a different sector, thereby adding value to the PhD, maximising the impact of the training, and enhancing opportunities for successful and varied career paths.