National Training Schools in Theoretical Chemistry, 2012 and 2014

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Oxford Chemistry


Graduate-level training is an essential component of doctoral research, providing the basic core from which novel research springs. This is particularly important in the theoretically-centred physical sciences, where the intellectual level and technical expertise required to pursue effective doctoral research increases significantly in comparison to typical undergraduate study.

In theoretical and computational chemistry, however, only a modest number of UK universities possess the critical mass of academic staff needed to provide key training across a broad spectrum of the subject. The present proposal thus seeks to provide a UK-wide training capability in theoretical chemistry, via the creation of National Training Schools to be held in summer 2012 and 2014. These will bring together a cohort of doctoral students from across the country and, in the two-week timespan of an individual Training School, will expose students to sustained, coherent training in fundamental graduate-level material, across a broad spectrum of contemporary theoretical/computational chemistry.

The Schools will consist of structured lecture courses, delivered by a team of eight experts from five UK universities; together with accompanying problem classes/tutorials designed not only to back up the lectures, but in particular to sharpen students' problem-solving skills -- a key element of doctoral research. The training provided will thus provide significant underpinning of, and thereby benefit to, individual student's doctoral research programmes. And exposure of a national cohort of students to such training will in turn benefit the quality of doctoral research across the UK.

Planned Impact

As described in the preceding section, beneficiaries of this proposal include doctoral students in theoretical and computational chemistry, the wider community of researchers in chemistry, and researchers in diverse scientific fields which intersect theoretical chemistry.

Enhanced training of doctoral researchers also has a longer term societal benefit, for the skills which are honed in such training -- including critical thinking, powers of analysis, mathematical competence and problem solving abilities --are not confined to academe, but are applicable across a wide spectrum of employment sectors. And in fostering and developing such skills, there is an inevitable, if longer-term benefit to the economic health and competitiveness of the nation.


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