The PSIBS programme is an integrated course enabling each student to achieve a MSc and subsequently a PhD award over a period of four years.
Year 1: Taught modules and mini-projects (180 credits)
Taught modules (6 x 10 credits)
The following six taught modules are designed to equip PSIBS students with the essential background knowledge and practical skills for their research projects:
The modules cover both theoretical and laboratory/instrumentation-based components. Core material is taught by dedicated DTC staff while detailed applications in various imaging areas are presented as seminars by the relevant specialists including other academic staff and our industrial partners. Our ethos throughout the program is of individual support starting from the very first year. Thus where specific needs or interests are identified, an individual programme of guided study and tutorial support is offered and monitored through the training needs analysis process.
One further module, which extends into the second year, provides generic transferable skills including research ethics, personal development planning, teamwork, project management and communication. The contents of this module are delivered by the Centre for Learning and Academic Development and the University Graduate School. To encourage awareness of the public understanding of science, students develop displays and activities showing different aspects of imaging for use in the Birmingham Science Museum, ThinkTank. A press release training session (led by the University Press Office) includes examples of how to develop appropriate journalistic contacts (including using scientific bulletin boards) and a practical session leading to a PSIBS press release.
Professional and transferable skills (1 x 30 credits)
Mini-projects (3 x 30 credits)
Each student undertakes three different mini-projects to learn core experimental and research skills. Normally, students chose one of these projects to continue into their main PhD research topic. All projects involve three elements: a biological system, one or more imaging technologies or the need to develop an imaging technology, and significant computer analysis of data generated. Each project is supervised by three members of academic staff (one for each of the three areas). One supervisor is the lead supervisor.
Practical experience in physical science, computer science and biomedicine
Interdisciplinary projects chosen by the students
Opportunity to explore different areas of PSIBS research before choosing a full project
Each of the mini-projects is assessed using a different form of assessment:
A written project report and oral presentation
Preparation of a draft journal paper
A poster and an associated “flash" presentation at a PSIBS Centre workshop
The taught part of the course and mini-projects are followed by a self-selected three-year PhD research project. In order to progress to this full project in the second year of the course students must:
Pass ALL taught modules (≥ 50%)
Obtain ≥ 60% across the three mini-projects
Obtain ≥ 60% over the taught and skills modules
Years 2 to 4: Research
Like mini-projects, full PhD research projects are carried out under the supervision of three researchers from the different but complementary disciplines of biomedical imaging. One of the supervisors is the lead supervisor.
Supervisors propose outline projects
Students may also propose projects with Director approval
Students work up their selected outline into a two- or three-page proposal for PSIBS approval
A wide range of research topics are available:
To promote interactions and ensure students continue to develop a broad base of expertise, a ‘buddy scheme’ pairs each student with another student from different background and on a different project. Students are also required to participate in DTC-wide imaging workshops and additional training courses (at least one module per year) specific to their chosen research area and chosen from the existing specialised MSc level provision at the University of Birmingham.
The stimulation of novel research is an important part of DTC activity. Seminars and workshops with internal and external academic and industrial speakers, aimed at the continuing education of established academic staff, also enable students to be at the forefront of learning about new technologies and concepts at the interface of imaging and biology. In addition the students actively participate in the PSIBS seminar programme to present the results of their mini-projects and update others on results in their PhD projects.
DTC students automatically become members of the University Graduate School, which provides a variety of generic courses such as IT skills and presentation skills.