Opportunities in Part II

Should I do a Part II project?

Advantages Disadvantages
Independent control over a project – plan and organise it yourself, take ownership Things don’t always work which can be disheartening
Network and work with academics and opportunity to work in world-leading labs Generally more contact time and rigid hours than dissertation-based work
Develop useful research skills including experimental design No option to study a minor subject (c.f. BBS course)
Option choices within a subject give you the chance to focus on what particularly interests you

Choosing a course/project?

  • Attend the NST subjects fair
  • Pick an area that interests you
  • Ask years above for advice – Did they feel well supported in their work? Did they manage to present their work or get a publication?
  • How long a project? (two term or one term depending on subject) One term projects may be more time-pressured in Lent term.
  • Computer-based projects may enable a more flexible schedule
  • Email supervisors to find out more about your role in the project. Will you be doing anything new – would there be a chance to get involved in work contributing to publication?
  • Each subject has their own way of allocating projects.
    • Pathology – rank your preferred projects from a list; allocation based on ranking and IB results
    • PDN – As in Pathology but students are also encouraged to arrange meetings with potential supervisors; supervisors may choose to take students independent of results if they like them
    • Pharmacology – students asked to decide between themselves.

Tips for a successful Part II project?

Unfortunately, the nature of basic science research means that not all projects are created equally and some may be more productive than others . Below are some tips to help you make the most of the time you have with your lab.

  • Meet with your supervisor early to discuss both your and their expectations, aims and objectives – this is key
  • Start early – can use Week 0 to do pre-reading and learn techniques
  • Be proactive. Academics are busy people, they will try their best to support you but you need to take the initiative when it comes to organising your project and planning your experiments. The more you put in the more you will get out.
  • Get involved, be friendly and show a genuine interest in what you are doing. This will encourage your supervisors to involve you in other projects in the lab.
  • Persevere! Even if you run into difficulty with your project you will manage to generate some data. This could lead to at least a presentation either locally at the CUSCRS annual conference or nationally at the INSPIRE Intercalator’s conference.
  • Make a start on your write up over Christmas if doing a two term project. The introduction can be done any time – this just involves a literature search and review.
  • Be honest with your supervisor, ask for help and ask questions when you don’t understand. Let them know if there is anything you particularly want to learn or get out of your time in the lab.