The Department offers a wide variety of training for all graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, to support your research work, help you develop a range of academic skills, and increase your employability.
They are given by all the Department's core teaching officers and are supported by a range of resources on this page. The Graduate Training Officer welcomes suggestions for additions and improvements.
Most workshops are held on Friday lunchtimes. Feel free to bring food and eat as you work.
Training seminars, schemes and workshops for all graduate students and postdocs
4pm, Thursday 4 and Monday 15 October: Research Topics and Resources I & II (Eleanor Robson and Tim Lewens)
HPS encompasses a bewildering range of topics. These seminars cannot hope to give you a complete overview of the field and how to research it, but they will introduce you to some basic topics and methodologies, stimulate you with lively examples of work by fellow graduate students and postdocs, and inspire you to carry out original and insightful work of your own. These seminars are complemented by an online guide.
Session 1 (chaired by Eleanor Robson):
Eleanor Robson: Introduction to research resources in HPS
Salim Al-Gailani: Researching the history of twentieth-century biology
Katharina Kraus: Researching philosophy of science
Josh Nall: Researching in the Whipple Museum
Session 2 (chaired by Tim Lewens):
Matthew Lane: Research skills training offered by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Jenny Rampling: Working with Early Modern sources
Shirlene Badger: Interviewing scientists for sociological research
Patricia Fara: Scientific imagery
10am, Thursday 18 October onwards (6 sessions): Aims and methods of histories of the sciences (Nick Jardine)
These workshops are for discussion of the identity, aims, methods and problems of the history of science. In the first, NJ will give an overview of the formation of history of science as a discipline. In the second, we shall discuss problems of anachronism. Possible subsequent topics include 'sociological approaches to the history of science', 'Big Pictures versus microhistories', 'histories of the circulation of scientific knowledge', 'the purposes of the history of science'. Suggestions for topics and readings will be welcome as will volunteers to introduce topics.
1pm, Friday 19 October: Managing your academic life online (Anna Jones)
Keeping up with the relevant material in your field on a regular basis, and keeping track of all the directly useful and potentially useful stuff that flicks by on your screen can seem a daunting task. Google is great to get you going on a quest, but how well does it serve you when you need to go back to something precisely or to access specialist subscription resources? This session will consider some tools and techniques to help you manage your academic life online, from starting a literature review to writing up. Warning: audience participation encouraged to help crowd-source a pool of respected resources!
1pm, Friday 2 November: How to use HPS-related rare book and manuscript collections in Cambridge (Anna Jones, Jim Secord and Nick Jardine)
Cambridge University's libraries contain a staggering wealth of rare book and manuscript collections, many of them little known. This workshop will provide an introduction to Cambridge's HPS-relevant collections and show some of the ways in which collections-based study can present an enriching and stimulating avenue for research. Part of the session will be devoted to the Charles Darwin and other manuscript collections at Cambridge University Library.
1pm, Friday 16 November: How to give a research talk and chair a session (Simon Schaffer)
Most of us in HPS are much more skilled at research and writing than we are at talking about our work in public. So we spend a lot of time giving and listening to research seminars that could easily be much better. Here is a chance to share ideas about how to give a good talk. This workshop will help you reflect on the ingredients of a good presentation, from planning the content and preparing visual aids to delivering a clear, engaging performance and handling awkward questions with aplomb. It will also cover how to chair a conference or workshop session.
1pm, Friday 30 November: Social media: blogging and microblogging (Vanessa Heggie)
Blogging is an excellent way to disseminate your research and make connections with other academics; but it can also build bridges to other professionals and a wider public audience, as well as functioning as a career in its own right. This workshop will explore the challenges of professional blogging, in particular: the skills needed to write non-reseach-led pieces; how to find a niche and an audience; and tricks to keeping both editors and readers happy (while not being upset by trolls in the 'comments' section!).
1pm, Friday 1 and 8 February: How to use printed books as original sources (Anna Jones and Roger Gaskell)
You think you know how to use books because they are so familiar. In fact we all subconsciously mediate texts, interpreting a text message in a different way to a newspaper article or academic textbook, for example. For printed books from earlier periods, we do not automatically possess the required knowledge for a full interpretation and must make a conscious effort to understand the context in which they were manufactured and used. This pair of workshops uses books from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries in the Whipple Library to show how physical evidence in printed books can be used for an historically informed reading of the text. Topics will include format, typography, illustration, binding, provenance, annotation and other marks made by former owners.
1pm, Friday 1 March: How to make the most of conferences (Liba Taub)
Attending a conference for the first time can be a daunting and exhaustive experience. This workshop will help you choose which sessions to attend (you don't have to go to them all!), how to introduce yourself to useful and interesting people, and how to get maximum benefit from the ideas and information presented and discussed.
1pm, Friday 26 April: How to get a job in academia (John Forrester and Anna Alexandrova)
Student life can't last forever... This workshop will give you lots of practical advice on how to make yourself employable; where to look for suitable jobs and fellowships; how to prepare job applications and cover letters; how to find referees; and how to plan interview and job-talk tactics.
1pm, Friday 3 May: Open access publication (Anna Jones, Eleanor Robson and a member of the UL Open Access team)
As of 1 April 2013, anyone who submits an article or conference proceedings for publication, which acknowledges funding from a major UK funding body (including the AHRC, ESRC and Wellcome Trust), must comply with Research Councils UK policy on open access. While there are now some useful resources which document that policy and help you to ensure compliance, there hasn't been much guidance on the implications for individual researchers and their career prospects and choices. If you are hoping for a research career in UK academia, even if you are not yet publishing, you will need to start thinking about these matters very soon if you haven't already. Whether you are graduate student or an early career researcher, bring your questions and concerns about Open Access to this workshop we will do our best to answer them (in so far as answers are available, which is not yet always the case).
1pm, Friday 10 May: How to publish an article (Hasok Chang)
Your supervisor or examiners may have suggested that an essay of yours might be a good basis for a published article. What better way to spend your summer? This workshop will talk you through the reasons for publishing; where and when to publish; how to transform a good Part III/MPhil essay or PhD chapter into a publishable article; how to respond to editors' queries and referees' reports; and how to submit the final version and deal with page proofs.
Graduate training workshops particularly for Part III and MPhil students
1pm, Friday 12 October: How to research and write a Part III/MPhil essay (Stephen John)
As you embark on your first piece of coursework, you probably will have a plethora of questions to ask; most people do. What's my supervisor for, and how do I make the most of her? Where I do find the resources I need? How much can I say in 5000 words? What are the parameters of good academic style? How do I manage my time so that I'm not still writing a draft 24 hours before submission? How do I cite my sources? An experienced Part III/MPhil supervisor will reveal the secrets of how to get an excellent essay in on time without too much loss of sleep or fingernails.
1pm, Friday 9 November: How to apply for a PhD (Tim Lewens)
Whether you are considering applying for a PhD place in Cambridge or elsewhere, deadlines will soon be looming. Prepare yourself by coming to this workshop, run by the Director of Graduate Studies. It will cover topics such as choosing a workable topic; writing a convincing proposal; looking for sources of funding; and the Department's PhD admissions requirements and process.
1pm, Friday 22 February: How to prepare a Part III/MPhil dissertation (Eleanor Robson)
Although your final submission date is still months away, now is a good time to start planning what your finished dissertation will look like. In this session the MPhil/Part III Manager will take you through the qualities that examiners typically look for in a high-quality piece of work and – equally importantly – the sure fire ways to lose marks too. It will also cover formalities such as word counts, appendices and bibliographical style.
Graduate training workshops particularly for PhD students
1pm, Friday 18 January: How to get a PhD (Tim Lewens)
As a PhD student at the end of your first term, you're beginning to find your way around the Department and your research topic. Now it's time to start thinking ahead. This session will describe the formal requirements for your PhD, help you plan your work, explain what to expect at your Annual Review, and advise you how to make the most of your PhD log book.
1pm, Friday 15 February: How to beat the mid-PhD slump (John Forrester and Helen Curry)
It's the tail-end of winter, you haven't seen the sun in months, and you want to throw your half-finished PhD out of the window... Believe it or not, this is absolutely normal. Come and share your woes, and find out how to get motivated again, in this workshop packed with practical advice on keeping your research and writing moving along.
1pm, Friday 17 May: How to finish your PhD (Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll and David Feller)
Come along to this workshop to discuss your experiences of PhD research so far, and to find ways to manage the last stages of your project. Topics will include reviewing work done so far, assessing and prioritising remaining work, realistic time management, and the formal requirements for PhD submission. It's never too early to start finishing!
Graduate training workshops for PhD students and postdoctoral researchers
1pm, Friday 5 October: How supervisions work (Anna Alexandrova and TBA)
All PhD students and postdocs are encouraged to supervise undergraduates in HPS. If you have never supervised before, this workshop is an essential prerequisite. It will explain the relationship between lectures and supervisions, Department and College, and cover practical topics such as managing reports and payments through CamCORS.
1pm, Friday 12 October, repeated Friday 25 January: How to supervise Part III and MPhil coursework (for postdocs only; Eleanor Robson)
Supervising a piece of research work over several weeks or months takes a rather different set of skills to supervising undergraduate essays. In this workshop a senior UTO will lead discussion on helping students to: choose viable and worthwhile topics; find and utilise appropriate resources; plan and carry out their research and writing; manage the constraints of deadlines and word limits. We will also consider strategies for coping with various problem scenarios: how and when to ask for help; questions of confidentiality; and how not to end up doing all the work yourself! Whether you've been supervising MPhil essays and Part II dissertations for years, or are likely to be taking on research students for the first time this year, do come along to share your experiences, concerns and questions. This workshop is only for postdoctoral members and affiliates of the Department.
1pm, Friday 26 October: How to supervise Part IB and Part II essays (Anna Alexandrova and TBA)
This workshop builds on the session 'How supervisions work' (5 October), but is also useful for more experienced supervisors. It will cover more theoretical issues such as the pedagogical functions of supervisions and effective ways to plan and deliver them. There will be a particular focus on how to mark and comment on essays, based on real-life examples.
2pm, Thursday 7 March: How to write a book proposal (Simon Mitton and Hannah Newton)
So you want to transform your PhD into a book. Or you want to write something completely different. How do you persuade a publisher to offer you a contract? This workshop will discuss good strategies for approaching publishers, how to present your proposal effectively, and what to expect in return from the publisher.
1pm, Friday 7 June: How to apply for a research grant (Tiago Mata)
Research fellowships and postdoctoral grants are not prizes for writing a splendid PhD. How do you convince a college, university or funding body that your proposed research is worth funding – and that you are the person that should be funded to do it? This workshop will give you lots of practical tips on writing a succinct, engaging and convincing research grant application.
Events and resources for everyone, every term
HPS History Workshop and HPS Philosophy Workshop (alternating Wednesdays, 5pm)
The HPS History Workshop is a seminar group, run by and for graduate students and postdocs, devoted to peer discussion of work in progress on the history and historiography of science, for example PhD chapters, dissertations, articles intended for publication or conference papers. The seminar aims to provide an informal arena for the exchange of ideas among students of the history of science in HPS and elsewhere, but philosophers, sociologists etc are very welcome too.
The HPS Philosophy Workshop is a fortnightly peer group seminar devoted to the discussion of on-going work by graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in philosophy. Short papers will normally be circulated by email one week in advance of each meeting, where the author will give a brief synopsis. The aim of the seminar is to provide a forum for informal, constructive interaction amongst those currently engaged in philosophical research.
CamPoS Seminar (Wednesdays, 1pm)
The Cambridge Philosophy of Science Seminar is a weekly seminar devoted to the discussion of on-going work by invited scholars, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. It is held jointly by HPS and the Philosophy Faculty and serves as a common forum for all scholars interested in philosophy of science. Students are invited and encouraged to participate and to present.
Supervisors’ coffee mornings, 11am on alternating Fridays, from 2 November (Anna Alexandrova (M), Liba Taub (L and E) and Ruth Horry)
Once your formal supervisor training is over, who do you turn to for continued support? Your fellow supervisors, of course! The College Liaison Officer (Anna Alexandrova) can also be very helpful when disciplinary matters arise. Come and chat over coffee to other Department supervisors about how it's going, share the pleasures successes of good supervisions and seek advice over trickier issues. The College Liaison Officer will not attend every week, but will field queries by phone or email.
Jobseekers’ coffee mornings, 11am on alternating Fridays, from 9 November (Leon Rocha, Anna Alexandrova and others)
This group offers informal support and advice for those who are applying for jobs, any jobs, inside or outside academia, or somewhere in between. We discuss the uses of Careers Services, how to draft a cover letter, who to ask for references, how to pick jobs to apply for, and many more. Come by to share your successes and failures, both are inevitable!
Practice job talks and mock interviews (Anna Alexandrova)
If you have a job talk or an interview coming up, the best preparation is to practise it. The Department can help arranging either. Ask your supervisor or Anna Alexandrova. Postdoctoral jobseekers can (and should) also make an appointment with Steve Joy at the Careers Service.
English language support
If English is not your first language and you find yourself struggling to read, write and communicate effectively in an academic environment, come and talk in confidence to the MPhil/Part III Manager or Director of Graduate Studies. The Department can offer a range of 1-1 support for you, tailored to your needs.
Externally provided courses and resources
All graduate students and postdoctoral researchers are encouraged to attend relevant training courses offered by other bodies, most of which are free to members of the University. There's now a central University of Cambridge Training website where you can sign up for any course. Here are some particularly noteworthy:
- Social Sciences Research Methods Centre
- Careers Service resources for arts, humanities and social sciences postdocs
- Computing Service
- Language Centre
- Personal and Professional Development
- Disability Resource Centre
- 23 Things for Digital Humanities (CRASSH programme for use of digital technologies for humanities scholars)
The University's Skills Portal also lists a lot of useful courses and resources for graduate students and research staff.
Tiny travel grants
A small number of grants for travel to conferences is available for graduate students giving papers at conferences (not for attendance only). Ask the Department Administrator for details.
Tiny training grants
If you have a particular training need that is not catered for here, the Department may be able give you financial assistance towards it. Ask the Department Administrator for details.