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What can the Department expect in return?

We hope to provide a supportive environment for the development of research careers, with Fellows and Research Associates participating in individual Research Group meetings, as well as "supergroup" meetings in closely related subjects (e.g. Epigenetics, Ecology, Metabolism, Molecular Biology of Photosynthesis). Participation (and perhaps organisation) of Departmental seminars (Thursday 13.00 in term time) and lunchtime research seminars (usually Friday 13.00h) also leads dissemination, discussion and development of research themes.

The Department maintains a friendly, supportive, informed and enthusiastic environment for our undergraduate students, which is particularly important for recruitment into more advanced degree programmes (e.g. second year IB Plant and Microbial Sciences, and final year, Part II). The support of fellows and postdocs is vital to this continuity. Senior Fellows will be expected to make some contribution to Departmental research administration, and within the portfolio of undergraduate teaching (see below) and Tripos examining. We believe that this can enhance job prospects and career development, although if problems do arise when this teaching commitment impacts excessively on a research programme this will be reviewed with the Senior Fellow and his/her mentor and the Head of Department. A Senior Fellow may be asked to help with teaching/examining in the ways listed below. These duties are unpaid (but payment for any undergraduate supervisions given can be claimed from the relevant Colleges). More junior Fellows and Post doctoral researchers may be asked to contribute to some aspects of this teaching support, for which payments may be available for certain duties. It is the policy of the Department to encourage post-doctoral scientists to develop their careers by acquiring teaching experience in at least some of the following ways:

Part I (first and second year undergraduate) practical courses

Junior fellows and Postdocs are welcome to demonstrate practical classes for 1st and 2nd year students (Part IA NST Biology of Cells, Physiology of Organisms and Evolution and Behaviour; Part IB NST Plant and Microbial Sciences and Cell and Developmental Biology). Practical classes normally run from 10 or 11 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m. and depending on the subject, demonstrators should aim to undertake one day a week. Demonstrators assist a Senior Demonstrator (normally a UTO/Senior Fellow) who will ensure that you are familiar with the principles and equipment before you start. Demonstrators (Postgrads, Postdocs and Junior Fellowships) are paid by the Department on an hourly basis at University defined rates.

Part II (third year undergraduate) projects

Part II Plant Sciences students are required to carry out a research project of 8 weeks duration in either Michaelmas or Lent Terms. Established Senior Fellows (i.e. after two years in post) should supervise research projects to the same degree as UTOs. Post-doctoral scientists usually take responsibility for much of the day-to-day supervision of students working on topics closely related to their own interest. In addition to the training in overseeing a research project, supervisors receive up to a maximum of 8 hours per project which can be reclaimed from the student's college upon completion of the reporting system (CamCors) assessments.

College supervisions

Colleges are responsible for providing small group (usually 2-5 students) tutorial teaching for one hour each week in each subject. Because of the numbers of students taking the major biomedical courses there is always a demand for supervisors to take these groups for IA Biology of Cells, Physiology of Organisms and Evolution and Behaviour (first year), and IB (second year) Plant and Microbial Sciences (PMS) and Cell and Developmental Biology (CDB). Generally supervisors take on groups for part of the year - and the Department of Plant Sciences helps to co-ordinate supervisions for our IB PMS and for the Lent Term plant component of the IA Physiology course in blocks, so as to ensure consistency in interest, expertise and enthusiasm. The department maintains supervision resources to help individuals obtain the balance between remedial work and extension in each supervision. Colleges pay supervisors at a rate per hour/student. The rate per student and the number in the group will vary. The secretary to the Teaching Co-ordinator, is the point of contact for supervision work organised withing the department, whilst the Mailing Lists for College Directors of Studies or course organisers is often used to seek supervisors in specific subjects.


Senior Fellows can be expected to lecture, usually in Part II Modules closely related to research interests, but also at Part IA or Part IB, particularly if an associated host UTO is taking a sabbatical or leave of absence.


This will normally involve marking answers based on Part IA, IB or II that the Senior Fellow has given. On occasion, a Senior Fellow may be invited to be a Part I examiner.

PhD Advisors

Senior Fellows will be expected to act as Advisors to 2 or 3 PhD students. This is an important role. In the case of a failing PhD/project, it has the potential to become both time-consuming and politically difficult, particularly for those new to the Department themselves, but if such situations occur the second supervisor and GEC monitoring and support systems will provide additional advise.

The Department has carried out a comprehensive COVID-19 risk assessment process and has opened to allow research work to take place. To ensure the safety of our staff, a range of measures to reduce building occupancy and allow strict social distancing have been introduced, including increased cleaning and hygiene regimes. We are currently not accepting visitors so please continue to contact us by email until further notice.