Doctoral Training Centres


I am thinking of doing a PhD in an engineering discipline and when I have been looking into this, I have seen something called Doctoral Training Centre’s mentioned. Does anyone know what these are?


Otherwise know to those in the know as DTCs. This is a relatively new phenomena in Universities but increasingly popular, especially in disciplines like Engineering. Apparently there will be around 40 new centres established since 2008 soon. Essentially they provide a way of combining taught work with research and so are ideal for people wishing to do a PhD who haven’t done much masters level study or had much experience of research.

Generally in Engineering you spend the first 12-18 months doing taught work like an undergrad would - so basically taking modules, doing coursework and exams. If you pass this period you then move onto doing PhD research (worth noting the taught material is broadly at Masters level so not a walk in the park!) and at the end of the day come out with a PhD like any other.


So why would I choose to do that over a bog standard PhD then? I mean, what are the advantages? I dont really understand what the selling point of including taught material is? Surely we all did plenty of that at UG level!!


Well I suppose it depends if you think you are ready to jump straight into a big research project at PhD level - it is a big leap from UG level study you know! Its even a big jump from Masters level.

From my understanding the advantages are:

  • bridges the jump between UG level and PhD level study so its less of a daunting change of pace.
  • many of them have good funding/scholarship type arrangements in place so it can be easier to get a place in a DTC rather than PhD funding and more financially viable for the student.
  • can be good for variety of study. What I mean by that is, a number of them are cross-University centres. The one in Tissue Engineering at Leeds Uni is based in Leeds, York and Sheffield, so you can vary the place you study, get access to a wider range of academics hence a wider range of research specialisms and so on. You can then do your PhD research with whichever academic and field suits, but from a wider range of choice than you might otherwise have.
  • If you do the EngD version you get to spend time in industry, which will obviously be very appealing to potential employers once you get your degree!

So it really depends what you want out of your study as to whether you go down this route or down the standard PhD route.


Ah right, thanks. I am beginning to get the idea behind it now. It does sound more interesting, though I am not sure I can face the thought of another 18 months of essays and exams!

What is an EngD by the way? Sorry to bombard you with questions, you have been really helpful! Thanks :slight_smile:


Dont worry, glad to help!

EngD stands for Engineering Doctorate and is a good alternative for students who want a career in industry as opposed to the traditional PhD/life in academia route. Lets face it, many of us who go into Engineering envisage a more “hands on” career than academia offers but its easy to get stuck in that by doing a traditional PhD.

EngD and Industrial Doctorate (similar to the EngD) is 4 years of study in which you combine PhD level research projects with some taught study (a la the DTC method), but the crucial difference is the student spends about 75% of their time working in industry. With the Industrial Doctorate, alongside the research and teaching, you also get to do technical and management training and it is assessed as part of the degree. Your research projects are assessed by both the Uni and the company you work for and the projects tend to be focussed on improving the performance of the company.

Its a great option if you want to combine study with some real world, hands on experience, and looks great on the CV.


Just to butt in with what I hope is something constructive, I just want to sound a word of caution about the EngD or Industrial Doctorate route. If you are considering this, make sure you check out the company you would be working for throroughly before you sign up for anything. You dont want to get half way through the project to find the company you work with goes bust or some similar calamity! It is worth checking if they have any track record with this sort of study too, otherwise you could end up with problems with you assessment etc.

I would also check out the “terms and conditions”, for want of a better phrase, which the University has in its agreement with the company and also with yourself. For example:

  1. Are the Uni oblidged to find you your industrial placement or is the onus on you to do so. If it is then it could be hard work to find a place, especially in the current economic climate and especially in Engineering. If the Uni is responsible for that you are more protected, but you also want to make sure they can provide quality placements, so ask them for a list of the companies they work with, if they have a service level agreement with them, speak to students who have already gone down this route etc. It might be time consuming but worth it to protect yourself.
  2. If the company is involved in assessing you, have the people doing the assessment been trained to do so and are they assessing to the same level as the University? You dont want to end up with someone in industry who has ne experience of assessing students, who gives you a pass with flying colours only for your academic assessor to turn around and fail you!

All worth considering before you go down this route. I would also see if the Uni will give you some testimonials from students who have done this form of study. Students tend to be very honest in this sort of thing so it will give you a good indicator of whether it is right for you or not.

Hope that helps.