SEPnet Graduate Network

What is GRADnet?

GRADnet is the collaborative graduate school of SEPnet, the South-East Physics network, comprising of nine physics departments in the south east of England. It brings together the research strengths from across all nine universities 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. The majority of the training is offered in face-to-face workshops at accessible locations in the south east to enable students to network with fellow 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 students to advance their 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 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).

  • Students can also benefit from SEPnet’s employer engagement programme which includes short placements for PhD students as well as undergraduates.
  • Industry projects allow students to see how the knowledge and skills developed are used by employers.
  • The projects help students develop employability skills and commercial insights. 
  • Students can carry out a PhD placement at various times, including after submitting their thesis and while waiting their viva.

For more information, please email:

Your training

The training 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 more. This website sets out the GRADnet programme for the current year and students should meet with their supervisors to decide which activities they will undertake this year.

The specific courses in GRADnet’s programme vary from year to year, so over the duration of your PhD or ECR phase students will find numerous courses to choose from. We would recommend not putting them off to the later years of your PhD or postdoc, as work usually gets busier towards the write-up of the thesis or postdoc papers.

The core elements of the annual programme are:

  • One-day, discipline-focused Advanced Physics Schools run by experts in their fields, drawn from across SEPnet.
  • Transferrable skills training for PhD, MSc students and postdocs to develop their professional and technical skills, with significant input from industry.
  • 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 every September for student-led conferences to be held the following spring.

For more details, see here for our training programme for 2023-24 and the GRADnet Brochure 2019-20 for past events.

This video produced by our students at our first ever 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, please email: