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Department of Plant Sciences


Almost half of our graduating students go on to do postgraduate research, at Cambridge, or elsewhere. The fact that a significant proportion of these go on to departments of Biochemistry or to Research Institutes, emphasises the breadth and depth of the training we give.

Our courses offer many opportunities for you to develop transferable skills; we aim to develop your communication skills which are vital for a career in science or elsewhere.

We have identified a set of transferable skills that Plant Sciences undergraduates can expect to gain whilst at the Department.

Intellectual and Problem Solving Skills

Analytical and problem solving skills are central to all Plant Sciences lectures, practicals, examinations, essay and project work. This is particularly true during supervisions, which at IB are provided by experts in their fields from the Department of Plant Sciences.

During your time at the Department your critical analysis and the ability to question results will be encouraged. Students are also activity encouraged to organise Journal Clubs and Blogs and Department Seminars are scheduled so that 1B and Part II students are able to attend.

Communication Skills

General guidance for writing good essays and reports are provided on Moodle and also provided during the Departments enrichments sessions. During IB Plant and Microbial Sciences advice on report writing is given in preparation for your Thematic Practical Write-Up. At Part II you will submit a critical review essay and a formal written report on your project work.

Presentation skills are developed at the Department in IB and Part II; students analyse data and practice their presentation skills in front of their peers.

Workshops and literature review sessions are timetabled into the Part II course, whilst at the Department you will also have the opportunity to join Committees, where you will be communicating with a variety of Departmental staff.

Organisational and Interpersonal Skills

You will be encouraged to improve your organisational skills, at Part II you will need to manage your personal timetable to attend lectures and seminars and complete your review and project work and take a more proactive approach to scheduling supervisions.

You at IB you are encouraged to apply for summer studentships in the Department and at other Research Institutions. The application process itself requires and the need to proactively seek funding internal and external funding opportunities provides valuable organisational experience.

During your time at the Department you will be encouraged to develop your interpersonal skills in communicating with your peers, with supervisors, lecturers and other members of the Department.

Research Skills

Students have access to the Departmental Library and an enrichment session at the start of term will enable you to make the most of the research resources available to you.

The practical work that you will undertake involves training in specialist techniques. Exercises and problem based learning will all develop you research skills and your statistical analysis. At Part II you will undertake your own 12 week research project.

Numeracy and computing

At Part IA Plant Sciences students can take parallel Mathematics courses, IB PMS contains some mathematical elements and at Part II you have the option to pursue an essay or research project in the Theoretical and Computational Epidemiology group. The Departmental Library has a Workstation facility for students.

Foreign language skills

Students have access to the University’s extensive arrangements for self-teaching in foreign languages.