Professional Development I

This course aims to develop knowledge and skills important for leadership in scientific research and education. The three main components of the course are (1) weekly seminars covering basic principles of research conduct and ethics, scientific communication, and aspects of science in society, (2) a cross-disciplinary group project, and (3) practical experience to develop presentation and teaching skills.


Seminars are held every Friday afternoon throughout the year. Seminars last 1 hour. It is imperative that you not only attend the seminars but that you also engage by participating in discussion and asking questions. You may be assigned specific responsibilities to facilitate discussion. In order to participate in discussion well, you’ll need to prepare. This means more than simply reading the required articles. You’ll need to reflect on them as well. You will be informed how to obtain the required articles one week ahead of the seminar they will be used in.

Group Project

The group project component aims to develop skills required for effective teamwork, including leadership, project management, cooperation and creative interaction, cross-disciplinary communication, and coordination of group activity. Group project work is timetabled on Friday afternoons for two hours every second week, alternating with presentation and teaching skills training. Timing of project activity is flexible and different times may be decided by the group. The project component will require involvement in a student led group project. Projects will not be directly supervised by a faculty member, but there will be opportunities for consultation where certain expertise is required. The nature of possible projects will be explained in class but they may include development of new research tools and applications, inventions to solve problems, field studies, or creation of resources for research and learning. There will be a self-assessment requirement by group members to recognize the contributions of different members, and an overall grade based on a final presentation. A prize will be awarded for the best project.

Presentation and Teaching Skills

The presentation skill component comprises a set of opportunities for students to gain experience in giving presentations to various groups and teaching at different levels. It is timetabled on Friday afternoons for two hours every second week, alternating with group project activity, but may be arranged flexibly. Students develop skills by a range of different assignments including: acting as teaching assistants; assisting with visiting student programs; contributing to outreach activities; presenting and participating in journal clubs; and giving a presentation based on research rotations. There will be a self-assessment requirement including a report documenting activities and evaluation of the research presentation.

The aim of this course is to provide information essential to beginning one’s career as a professional scientist, and to develop skills fundamental to modern scientific practice.
Course Content: 

Term 1 Module: Research conduct and ethics

  • laboratory procedures, conduct and safety
  • record keeping and data management
  • sharing and confidentiality
  • authorship
  • plagiarism
  • peer review
  • conflicts of interest
  • research misconduct
  • research with animals
  • research with human subjects

Term 2 Module: Scientific communication

  • scientific writing
  • poster presentations
  • scientific talks
  • communicating science to the non-specialist
  • teaching science
  • grant applications

Term 3 Module: Life in science and science in society

  • science and the law
  • intellectual property and patents
  • working in science
  • reputation/visibility/personal profile
  • funding of science
  • research and social responsibility
  • leadership in research and education
  • This course continues in the 2nd year.  Students in second year are expected to attend seminars presented by guest speakers.  Students in second year may also participate in additional specific training if there is a need, such as further developing presentation and writing skills.

Course Type: 
Attendance and participation