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ESRC Doctoral Training Centre Principles

In spring 2009, after a year of review and consultation, the ESRC took the decision to introduce a new Postgraduate Training Framework. This has significantly changed the way the ESRC delivers its support for postgraduate training by developing a national network of 21 institutional or consortia level Doctoral Training Centres (DTCs). The North West DTC was successful in its bid and has been accredited for five years, with the first cohort of students starting in October 2011/12.

By moving away from its previous system of accrediting individual courses and outlets the ESRC Postgraduate Training Framework aims to promote the development of more coherent university-wide core training programmes and support the development of purposeful interdisciplinarity, while at the same time providing institutions with more flexibility in the way they structure and deliver training.

All the ESRC studentship funding is now directly awarded to the institutions which make up the ESRC DTC network, and not to individual students.

North West Doctoral Training Centre

The Universities of Lancaster, Liverpool and Manchester gained ESRC recognition for a collaborative DTC in the North West of England (NWDTC) from October 2011. The three universities have an established record of success in the RAE and a distinctive feature of this DTC is the emphasis placed on training and support in a wide spectrum of quantitative and qualitative methods deriving directly from the world-leading research experience of the Consortium.

This will be enabled by placing at the centre of the NWDTC a methodology unit, Methods NorthWest, built upon the established success of the Cathie Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research, methods@manchester and the Lancaster Postgraduate Statistics Centre.

The ESRC NWDTC will ensure that a coordinated approach is used to exceed the social science requirements in quantitative and qualitative training in all the disciplines supported by the ESRC for which the DTC holds pathway recognition. The NWDTC is a collaboration which ensures, through formal agreement, that these institutional-specific resources are part of the new support network for all social science researchers in the North West.

Students will have access to the latest developments in social science methodology through Methods North West conferences and will be able to take full advantage of existing resources in each of the institutions within the DTC. The NWDTC will have a robust management structure which will monitor and enhance the breadth of provision of each pathway as well as regularly scrutinizing the quality and innovatory nature of training available.

The DTC will make more accessible its postgraduate advanced research training events (workshops, conferences); it will open up its specialised and advanced courses to other institutions within the region while ensuring collaborative cohesion among the three partner HEIs where there is existing complementarity in order to offer further advanced training, and to foster and generate new engagements during the lifetime of the NWDTC which are sustainable across the collective strengths of the institutions.

The NWDTC will play a central strategic role in the development across all three universities’ social science provision. In particular, it will:

  • deliver a high profile and integrated training framework for the development of PGR students across the three HEIs for the production of cutting edge research in their disciplinary fields;
  • be part of the context for the continued development and further integration of training programmes to ensure sustainability and strength of provision;
  • be a core driver for the context in which we will increasingly move our provision of training in generic skills onto an electronic platform (details on this are provided in the pathway attachments). This will enable us more easily to embed materials into our more specific research training, partly to ensure continued provision in a financial environment where responsiveness to need and economic responsibility require innovative delivery through strategic resource use;
  • serve as a new heightened level of support for those students who need to access training at a distance
  • be part of the context through which we will enhance the support and monitoring of PGR students, in order to achieve a better student experience and further improve our current submission rate success through the dissemination of best practice across partner HEIs;
  • be the context through which we will open up our training provision to all Universities in the region and in the context of UK social science training more generally