SEPnet Graduate Network

What is GRADnet?

GRADnet is the collaborative graduate school of SEPnet, the South-East Physics network, comprising nine South-East England physics departments.  It brings together the research strengths of the nine Universities that make up SEPnet to create the largest Physics postgraduate school in England. It has been set up to offer a wide range of advanced physics training and professional skills training relevant to physicists, with emphasis on the skills physicists need during their MSc, PhD and early career researcher (ECR) stages.  Much of the training is offered in face-to-face workshops at accessible locations in the South-East to enable you to network with other physics researchers, leading an exceptional PhD, MSc and ECR experience across the region

Why do physics researchers need training courses?

Advanced physics training and the development of professional skills are integral parts of any PhD and ECR development programme. The skills developed enable you to advance your research, but they are also the skills needed by future employers, both academic and industrial. Funding bodies and universities set minimum levels of training that PhD students will be expected to undertake. The benefits of GRADnet for training and research are clear, from significant investment into video conferencing facilities linking the universities, postgraduate teaching collaboration, and the joint planning and delivery of co-ordinated training modules identified by the postgraduate tutors as necessary for physics and physics-related students..

The industry and employer dimension

GRADnet works closely with SEPnet’s employer network to offer a coordinated and bespoke skills training programme for its students designed to meet the needs of students, employers and university research groups, building links with other key regional players such as STFC, EPSRC and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) Postgraduate Institute for Measurement Science (PGI).

You can also benefit from SEPnet’s employer engagement programme which includes short placements for PhD students, not just undergraduates. Industry projects allow you to see how the knowledge you have acquired and the skills you have developed are used by employers, and help you develop your employability skills and commercial insights.  You can carry out a PhD placement at various times, including after submitting their thesis and while waiting for your viva.
Contact employerengagement@sepnet.ac.uk

Your training

The training you undertake will come from a range of sources including your department, your university, your supervisor’s collaborative networks, SEPnet and other professional bodies. It will take the form of seminars, lectures, workshops, schools, and a range of other activities.  This website sets out the GRADnet programme for the current year.  You should meet with your supervisor and decide which activities you will undertake this year; you can register online to attend them.

The specific courses in GRADnet’s programme vary from year to year, so over the duration of your PhD or ECR phase you will find numerous courses to choose from. We would recommend not putting them off to the later years of your PhD or postdoc, as life tends to get busier as you approach the write-up of your thesis or postdoc papers. The core elements of the annual programme are:

  • Residential courses (Summer School and Winter School) for PhD and MSc students and postdocs to develop their professional and technical skills, with significant input from industry
  • Two-day, discipline-focused Advanced Physics Schools run by experts in their fields, drawn from across SEPnet.
  • Student-led conferences: Many students welcome the chance to share their research at a conference designed by themselves, for themselves. GRADnet provides guidance, logistical support (venue) and funding to help you make your dream conference a reality.  We circulate a call each March for student-led conferences to be held the following spring.

For more details, see here for our training programme for 2020-21 and the GRADnet Brochure 2019-20: GRADnet Brochure 2019-20 Final 16 pages 31072019 for past events.

This video produced by our students at our first Summer School in 2014 gives a flavour of what to expect.

Other opportunities

Other resources

Resilience Toolkit: A Physicist’s Guide to Building and Maintaining Wellbeing (Institute of Physics)

For further information …

.. about postgraduate research projects, physics and professional skills courses, graduate schools, workshops and employer networking events, contact:  gradnet@sepnet.ac.uk. Telephone:  01483 682270.