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Expectations of the Post Graduate Researcher

Getting Started

The Department is located in the Kilburn Building, and the IT building behind it (accessed via the internal first floor walkway). Due to the interdisciplinary nature of computer science, several of our staff are located elsewhere, most notably at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB). MIB is building number 16 on the University Interactive Map [14]. Plans of the building are included at the end of this document.

People and Places

The Student Support Office (SSO):
is located in Room LF21 (Lower First floor), Kilburn Building, email: Student Support [1]. They provide administrative support for all students, from registration to graduation. They will be very helpful during your time here.
You have already been assigned a main supervisor, who is responsible for your research and training. There will usually be one or more co-supervisors; their role in the research should be clarified at an early stage. PGRs should have regular contact with their supervisor(s), typically in the form of weekly meetings, although different supervisors may have different approaches. Important point: The relationship between the PGR and supervisor is crucial to the success of the doctorate. If anything goes wrong with that, you should get help to get it resolved.
When you arrive you’ll be assigned a cohort. You’ll keep this cohort for your entire time here in Manchester. And have regular meetings with your Cohort Advisor. The cohort is there to provide peer support to each other, to maintain a group dynamic as you progress in your work, to get help and advice on technical aspects which you may not be familiar with but others in your cohort are, and for your pastoral care.
Each PGR (and cohort) will be assigned an advisor. The advisor is not an expert on your research. Their role is largely to be an independent person to turn to when you are having difficulties you don’t want to discuss with your supervisor. They can also provide general advice.
We have a team of peer mentors. They are PGRs like you that, having progressed beyond the first year, volunteer to be available to you in order to share with you their experience of what it felt like to be through the stages you will be going through. They are there as another point of help for you. They will promote social activities and, most important of all, only they can give you a feel for how it feels like, as a PGR, to be going through the several stages in your work.

Accounts & Passes

Identity Cards:
Everyone will be issued with a photographic University identity card (swipe card). You should have this card on you at all times whilst on University premises. It is used to access various restricted areas, as well as acting as your library entry/borrowing card for the central university library. On the back of this card is the number for campus security.
Out of hours passes:

Entry to the Kilburn Building outside of normal hours (before 08.00 and after 18.00 Monday to Friday, plus all day at weekends and bank holidays) requires an out of hours pass which can be obtained from the Student Support Office. You will need to bring your University ID card and a printout of the confirmation email indicating that you have passed the on-line Out of Hours Health and Safety test required by the Department, a University one, and a Department one.

To take the Health and Safety course, go to myManchester [5] and log in using your University credentials. Find Blackboard and log into that. Click on the “Health and Safety Course and Out-of-Hours Pass Information” folder. Complete the test called “Part 1: University of Manchester Health & Safety” and the test called “Part 2: Health & Safety within the Department of Computer Science”. WHEN YOU HAVE PASSED BOTH TESTS and have confirmed that you have completed them, the “Out of Hours Access” folder will appear. Click on the “Out of Hours Access” folder, read through the guidance document, and complete the “Out-Of-Hours-Pass Test”: you need to score 100% to successfully complete it. When you have scored 100% on the Out-of-Hours Pass Test, a link called “Out-of-Hours Completion Confirmation” will appear. Click on this “Out-of-Hours Completion Confirmation” link, and a confirmation screen will appear. Take this confirmation screen (either print it out, or show it on an electronic device) and your University of Manchester ID card to SSO (room LF21) who will issue an Out-of-Hours Pass for the Kilburn Building. You will then receive a confirmation email which shows the times during which you are allowed out-of-hours access to the Kilburn Building. Passes can ONLY be issued from SSO between 10.00am and 4.00pm Monday – Friday. Out-of-Hours access is only available with a valid University of Manchester ID card during the times listed in the confirmation email which you receive when your Pass has been issued. Read the document and then take the test. You can take the test as many times as you need to, until you get all questions correct.

Computer Accounts:
You will need to set up a University account. A central username and password allows you to access various university-wide systems, as well as giving you access (via the Central Authentication System (CAS)) to online journal content to which the University Library has a subscription. It also serves as your username and password for your teaching domain account. You can sign-up for your account by visiting: Computer Accounts [6] . You will need your personal details and University ID number (the number on your swipe card) to sign-up.


There is a delay of one working day before you can use your ID card for swipe access to the Kilburn Building outside normal hours; however, during this period you can still gain out-of-hours access by showing your ID card to a staff member on duty at the Kilburn Building side entrance.


You will have a a University email account usually of the form: <user> - detailed instructions on how to send and receive emails, both locally and remotely, for both Linux based and windows based systems, are to be found on the Wiki at the StudentFAQ/IT pages mentioned above, as well as this University site: PGR email [7]. *Read your email frequently!* There may be important messages from the staff or from the Department or University. There may even be offers of free pizza. If you use other (external) email accounts (e.g. gmail or hotmail), you may wish to set up a forwarding to automatically forward mail from your Department mail account to your external account. If your Department account becomes over quota, then mail will not be received and you may miss important messages. Always ensure that you clean up your account regularly, deleting large files and junk (especially in your email box and web browser caches). Or periodically archive your mailbox.
Internal Telephone System:
External phone numbers for the University are usually of the form 0161-275****. From an internal phone, you just have to dial the extension number, which is 5 followed by the last four digits of the external phone number. Some internal phones also allow you to make external calls, you dial 9 to get an external line, followed by the usual external phone number.
Emergency Phone Numbers:
In the event of any emergency, medical or otherwise, please contact the emergency services by calling 9999 internal or 999 external line. The University Security Office must also be informed once the emergency services have been alerted by calling 69966 internal or 0161 306 9966 external line. This number is on the back of your University Identity Card.

Resources & Facilities

Programme Handbook (this document) CS PGR Handbook [4]:
This describes what is expected of you as a PGR in the Department of Computer Science, and should also serve as a useful reference. You are expected to consult it. Further information can be found on the Department of Computer Science PGR web-site CS PGR information [3]. This handbook also contains some other information that is hopefully useful to doctoral candidates especially when they are new to the University of Manchester.
PGR Charter:
The aim of this document is to outline and make explicit the rights of PGRs in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Manchester. It can be found at the PGR Charter [8].
Important Dates:
Induction Week (Week 0) A number of induction events and social events run during this week. Do take part! You will have opportunities to learn what is expected of you, as meet and make friends with staff and other PGRs, and familiarise yourself with the layout of the Department and of the University. Within Computer Science, undergraduate and MSc teaching occurs in 12-week semesters, although MSc teaching occurs in 6-week blocks which divide the semesters. You will have the opportunity to get involved in many activities of the Department including UG or PGT laboratory teaching by becoming a Teaching Assistant. More at Important Dates [9].
IT Services:
IT Services look after much of the technology that powers The University of Manchester, and the support services which come with it. We have all the services you’d expect, such as campus-wide Wi-Fi, email, printing, file storage, walk-up support desks and online learning, and there are also other services you may not expect, such as our 24/7 telephone support line, halls-based support, and our lecture podcast service which automatically records most lectures to help students replay, revisit and revise. More information can be found at: IT Instruction leaflets [15].
Computing Facilities:
Each PGR will be given a desk and a computer in the PGR Home and then in the appropriate research group lab. Most machines are set up to run Linux and MS Windows. Depending on the conventions of your research group, you may need to be familiar with either. There is an introductory Linux lab for those who need to familiarise themselves with our local setup during welcome week.
Computer Science Information Systems (CSIS):
The University has an IT services section. The group who work within our Department are called CSIS. They are very helpful. However, if there is some fault with your equipment or with your CS account, you should “raise a ticket” with the IT service desk. Follow the link on the IT Services [10] page. Other useful places to get information are are on the CS Student Intranet [11].
There is a Department Intranet which is divided in sections for students (CS Student Intranet [11]) and for staff (CS Staff Intranet [12]).
The University has developed an online system for post-graduate researchers which is called eProg. This enables PGRs to plan and track their progression, and provides online listing of various skills training courses. You will need to use eProg as part of your assessment.
Student Societies:
The University of Manchester Students’ Union (UMSU [13]) is an organisation, independent of the University, to which all students automatically belong. As well as the facilities within the Student Union building itself, UMSU also supports an enormous range of student societies, where you can meet students with similar interests.
International Students & English Language Courses:
If English is not your first language, you may need to further develop your skills throughout the course of the programme. Further English language courses are available during the course of the PhD programme, to enable students to fulfil their full potential as they progress with their study and research. Further information about these courses will be provided at registration. International students may also find it useful to participate in activities arranged by the International Society which has more than 6000 members representing more than 120 nationalities. The university’s International Advice Team offers help and advice to international students on a wide range of issues.

Help and Advice

Starting a new course - and settling in - can be daunting for anyone. In many cases, PGRs will have moved from a familiar university and course, where they were seen as an experienced and knowledgeable PGRs, someone who others came to for advice. Compared to this, being a new PGR, at an unfamiliar university, in what may also be an unfamiliar city or country, can be a big change that isn’t always that easy to deal with. If you do experience difficulties, remember that even if all the other PGRs in your cohort seem to be having a wonderful time, with no problems at all with the course or anything else, things aren’t always exactly as they may seem, and many other people may be having similar problems to yourself!

It is important that if you are experiencing any difficulties, whether they be academic, personal, or university related, that you seek advice at the earliest opportunity. Any matter whatever that affects your work and progress can and should be brought to the attention of the Simon Harper (HoPGR) [2] or other suitable member of staff, or to the Student Support [1] Office. We are all here to help you succeed.

In general, if your difficulties involve carrying out your research you need to make this clear to your supervisors, who are here to help you and train you on how to be a researcher. Other members of your research group can also be very helpful. Issues concerning resources required to do your research also must be resolved with your supervisors, who are authorised to decide what resources are appropriate.

If you are having difficulties communicating with your supervisors, or are having other problems with your relationship with your supervisors, you should discuss this with your advisor, or Simon Harper (HoPGR) [2]. The mentors may also be able to offer advice. Any information will be treated as strictly confidential if you request it.

If you need help with an administrative issue, such as registration, payment of funds, or form filling, Student Support [1] should be your first port of call.

Members of university staff (whether administrative or academic) have a wealth of experience in dealing with the issues that effect you, and if they can’t help you themselves, can often assist you in finding the help you need. Academic staff will be able to advise on management of work, and in many cases, any problems or disruptions you may have had can be taken into account when it comes to assessment of your work and progress.

The Faculty of Science and Engineering also supports your study and runs short courses, events, provides advice, and links to the Faculty and University policies relevant to PGRs.

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