SCENARIO offers a wide range of excellent and innovative training in quantitative environmental science, research skills and a wider set of professional skills in preparation for a leading role in science, industry, the public sector or academia.
Based on feedback from SCENARIO students who have completed their PhDs, 8 out of 10 students find the training offered by SCENARIO is very good or excellent.
“The variety of external speakers arranged for training sessions was excellent. Generally, all the training courses were beneficial for completing a PhD”
Research intensive training – reaching the research frontier
From the start of their PhD, SCENARIO students are immersed in an excellent research environment within a research group. Many have a supervisory team that spans several research areas and we encourage collaboration with our many partners. Host departments/institutions will hold seminars and discussion groups which students are encouraged to attend. The Walker Institute training and seminars are also open to SCENARIO students.
A wide range of MSc modules at the University of Reading and the University of Surrey are available to SCENARIO PhD students. Students can chose from the full range of modules at the University of Reading and the University of Surrey.
We work with other DTPs to deliver Masterclasses on specialist topics such as data assimilation. Details of available programmes will be posted on our news and events page.
Students are encouraged to take part in one Summer School (or Winter School) during their PhD.
“The masters modules that I took in my first year provided me with a really firm base for my project”
Cohort Building and Networking
Students meet regularly together for SCENARIO seminars, lectures, short training courses, workshops and social activities. Topics for our meetings are decided during cohort discussions and in the past have covered such areas as big data, data ethics, social media, writing for non-expert audiences and careers workshops.
The student-led Joint DTP Conference brings together students and supervisors from SCENARIO, the SSCP NERC DTP at Imperial College and the London NERC DTP, along with external partners, to celebrate our students research. The 2022 Conference From Sea to Sky: A Changing World took place at the University of Surrey in September 2022.
“Good practical workshops, conferences and opportunities to interact with industry”
Professional and Skills Training
The University of Reading and University of Surrey have Researcher Development Programmes which offer generic skills training. The programmes run courses on, for example, how to write a thesis, publishing papers and interacting successfully with your supervisor.
Training in scientific computing is both necessary and valuable at the beginning of a SCENARIO PhD. As part of our induction programme, students are offered an Introduction to Scientific Computing with Python. This is followed by two pathways to suit different programming needs:
Pathway A for students with projects that involve a substantial amount of research computing has half day taster workshops on design, testing and code management.
Pathway B for students starting PhDs that will be less computationally intensive has a three day introduction to programming in R.
We also run 2 optional four day intensive software development courses that focus on the most important and relevant elements of software engineering for scientists, crucial amongst which are usability, maintainability, accuracy, and readability. These are the foundations of professional code development skills. We will teach and demonstrate the benefits of good initial design, thorough testing, algorithm re-use and code progression, the ideas of elegance, abstraction, performance and scalability.
“The software development course helped me to code properly”
Business and Innovation Training
The Innovating for Sustainable Development 3 day residential course is run jointly by SCENARIO and Imperial’s SSCP DTP. First year students from both DTPs are expected to attend. The course brings together PhD students with NGOs, policy makers and business to seek solutions towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Students work in teams to develop innovative solutions to problems posed by the SDGs and pitch their ideas at the end.
Tiger Teams are small group of experts with a diverse set of skills and knowledge, assembled to tackle a small but complex problem. In this training event, the problems will be provided by industrial partners of the Scenario or the FoodBioSystems DTP. Each Tiger Team may produce a new data set, internal document, or even a short paper depending on the needs of the problem provider. Students will get a chance to solve a problem as part of a team, develop and discover new skills, and work with a commercial or industry partner on an issue relevant to them.
The COP Climate Action Studio gives SCENARIO students the fantastic and unique opportunity to participate in the UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP), both in person and remotely. The COP Climate Action Studio has run since 2016 and gives participants valuable exposure to the latest ideas and trends in climate policy, as well as enhancement of the understanding of working with individuals from different disciplines and sectors. COP CAS is run in conjunction with the University of Reading’s Walker Institute which has status as an Observer organisation.
Find out more about COP27 and COPCAS here.
“…an amazing experience. It really demonstrated to me the multi-faceted nature of climate change as a problem, and the role of climate science within that”
Climate Resilience Evidence Synthesis Training (CREST) is also run by the Walker Academy, at the Walker Institute. The training includes practical scenario-based experience of the decision-making processes that take place at every level during emergencies arising from extreme weather events such as flooding. The focus of this training is on the synthesis and interpretation of evidence from disciplines including climate science, livelihoods and hydrology, and the production of relevant outputs in appropriate formats, to support decision making during times of crisis. The course provides a unique opportunity to understand the context and environments in which key decisions are made, and how evidence is utilised by different stakeholder groups.
“CREST reaffirmed the importance of integrative research and the integration of different sources of information that adds value to each other. I will endeavour to look beyond the traditional meteorological/climate science way of doing things and integrate other sources of information.”
“This has changed my perspective on my work and given me lots of new inspiration for fields I might like to pursue after my PhD.”
SCENARIO and Imperial’s SSCP DTP have a special arrangement with the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) so that at least one student per year to take up a POST Fellowship in Westminster. Each fellow works for 3 months on an area of science or technology policy, producing outputs such as reports or briefing notes, as well as engaging directly with Select Committees.
Placements are great opportunities to gain experience outside academia. As well as policy placements such as POST, we will support applications for placements with industrial partners, and a high proportion of SCENARIO students have CASE partners who offer industrial placements as part of their CASE agreement.
“It was great to work in a new/different environment… (it) taught me a lot about how science is applied in a business/corporate/industrial manner”
Many of our partner organisations offer fantastic training opportunities:
- British Geological Survey’s GeoSchool
- UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH)
- National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS)
- European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF)
- National Physical Laboratory (NPL)
Undergraduate Research Experience Placements
Each year we host a number of undergraduate students as part of NERC’s Research Experience Placement Scheme. Applications for Summer 2022 are now closed but you can get an idea of the type of projects we might offer here.