Year 1

Welcome week

During this period, you will have a chance to attend to practicalities (e.g. faculty registration, chemistry skills assessment) but also to meet staff and students through a series of social events designed to help you settle into your new environment.

Training programme

Your PhD starts with a unique training programme: Postgraduate Advanced Chemical Techniques (PACT), which has been carefully designed to enhance and strengthen your research techniques before the start of your research project.

Furthermore, the cohort based approach at our Centre means that you will spend most of PACT working as a group in problem-solving and brainstorming sessions as well as presenting to each other.

One of the first activities that will take place is an assessment of your training needs in both chemistry and transferable skills. This will help us to tailor the training period to suit your needs. We will use the outcome of these sessions to shape activities such as Director's Cut so you can all get as much out of PACT as possible.

We cover a wide range of synthetic chemistry research, and you will have the opportunity to explore this before deciding on your final PhD project. Areas you might explore include:

  • Total synthesis
  • Medicinal chemistry
  • Homogeneous catalysis
  • Synthetic biology
  • Physical organic chemistry
  • Synthetic methodology
  • Materials chemistry

PACT elements

  • Lab rotations to "try before you buy"
  • Brainstorming of project proposals
  • Director's Cut (problem solving sessions)
  • Journal Club (literature review)
  • Lectures and workshops
  • Postgraduate DLM (lab experiments in a virtual environment)


PACT is formally assessed in a variety of ways, including written reports, problem solving, presentations and an exam.

Following a positive outcome, students will be allocated to their PhD projects and start their research under the supervison of their academic supervisor(s).

The skills and techniques I learnt allowed me to take a ‘running start’ at my PhD. I had a very productive first year due to the wider knowledge obtained during the CDT training period.

David Lunn, now a Marie Curie Research Fellow at UC Santa Barbara (CA, USA)
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