Information for CASE students

Legal agreement

Ahead of your placement, a legal agreement will be required for your CASE studentship.  A bespoke SWBio DTP CASE Studentship Agreement will be used.  This legal contract will be initiated via your main supervisor in your registered university and will be completed by the relevant people within your institution and in conjunction with your CASE partner's organisation. 

You may be required to sign this legal agreement to acknowledge that you have read and understand the contract.  If anything is unclear, please do not hesitate to raise with your main supervisor.

Online placement tracker

Prior to starting your placement, please complete the online placement tracker on Blackboard (you will need your Bristol log-in details) which will request information such as:

  • start and end dates
  • location
  • the number of placements (if not all undertaken at once)

Please update this tracker upon completion of placements/if details change.  

Please ensure you also notify your host institution/registered university accordingly.

Travelling abroad

Each university has its own set of guidelines about studying and working abroad. Please refer to their websites:

Visas

For advice and guidance, please view the relevant embassy website. Also consult your CASE supervisor as they may be able to provide some guidance.

Travel insurance 

  • Needed for a placement outside the UK.
  • PhD students are eligible for university travel insurance and we would strongly recommend using this. Alternatively book travel insurance via a reputable company.

Health insurance

When travelling to EU states:

  • You will need to obtain a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) that is specifically for studying abroad purposes as a student (Refer to 'UK students going to the EU' section).  This will be a paper application.
  • This is free and can be obtained through the NHS choices website.  
  • Entitlement to a UK GHIC is not based on nationality but residency.

When travelling to non-EU states:

  • This will vary from country to country so further advice will need to be sought.
  • When undertaking placements in the USA – additional healthcare insurance is most likely required.

Bristol Students: University of Bristol have recently made available SafeZone, a safety app to use when travelling overseas.

It is still expected that you complete your placement during this current pandemic, so flexibility and mitigation needs to be at your forefront. Under these current circumstances it is also acceptable to undertake your placement remotely, either for the full or part of the duration if this is necessary.

Things that may help with organising and completing your placement:

  • If you are planning on undertaking your placement in person, is there a plan B for it to be undertaken remotely if further restrictions are imposed?
  • Does your host organisation have a COVID-19 risk assessment in place? It is likely that this will need to be reviewed by your registered university.
  • Keep abreast of advice provided by your registered university on undertaking placements. There may be additional approval steps needed if there are tighter restrictions (e.g. approval via your Head of School).
  • Look at the Government advice website.
  • Ensure you have travel and health insurance in place (refer to taking your placement abroad section). 
  • Check travel and accommodation cancellation policies before booking.
  • You may want to consider whether flexible start dates are possible.
  • Importantly, be realistic about what can be achieved under these current circumstances!

Induction

Make sure that your CASE supervisor spends some time with you to run through key things on your first day.  To help with this, you can use this Student Induction Checklist as a guide.  

Keeping in touch

Unlike PIPS placements, CASE placements can be intermittent throughout your PhD and as no placement agreement is signed for these, we as the DTP Hub do not always have official start and end dates to work from. As such, we will be sending you quarterly e-mails, which we hope is just frequent enough to tie in with when you may have placements shortly to approaching, partway through, or nearing completion. Once you have completed your SWBio DTP CASE report, we will then stop sending you reminders. This email is a way for us as the DTP Hub to ensure that you are being well supported throughout your placement/s, as well as providing an overview of information and guidance so you know what you need to be doing as you progress with your CASE placement/s.

While on placement it is your responsibility to maintain contact with your main supervisor. It is standard institutional practice for this to be at least once a month. Your supervisor will be keen to hear from you! Contact can be kept by email, in person, skype or telephone.

For Exeter Students this should be at least once a month and should be recorded in MyPGR. Contact can be kept by email, in person, skype or telephone.

Placement visit

During your placement you are required to set up a visit with your main supervisor. This is an informal visit with the primary aim of monitoring your progress and welfare. It may be necessary to obtain the correct permissions from your CASE organisation to authorise your visitor’s access. To prepare for this visit please complete the visit preparation form.

This would normally take place halfway through your placement.  If your placement is > 6 months, we recommend that these placement visits take place every 3 months.

A visit report form will need to be filled out by your visitor and there are some sections you will need to complete ahead of the visit. This will then be retained by the SWBio DTP Hub.

If your visitor is unable to visit in person, this meeting can take place online (preferred) or telephone. If the main supervisor is unavailable, then your second supervisor can visit in their place.

Cohort activities

Depending on the timing of your PIPS, it may conflict with DTP cohort activities. You will need to make your CASE organisation aware of any such events in advance of the placement.

University services

Although you will not be on campus, you are still a student. This means that you will still have access to all the facilities and services that would normally be available to you at your host institution.

Health and Safety

Whilst on your CASE placement make sure that you receive adequate information, instruction, training and supervision from your CASE organisation. If you feel you are not receiving any of these things please get in contact with your registered university as the placement provider could be in breach of contract.

If you have an accident while on placement, you must report this to the SWBio DTP Hub and your registered university immediately.

Set personal goals

Some placements may be very structured, whilst others may not. It is a good idea to set some personal goals at the start of your placement to give yourself something to aim for.

These could include:

  • Learning new skills that will look good on your CV
  • Making contacts within the organisation
  • Finding out about roles available for graduate students
  • Using your initiative on a project

It will give you a sense of accomplishment once you have achieved your goals and make you more motivated. Remember not to set unrealistic goals that are unattainable!

Create a good impression

How you present yourself at work can leave a lasting impression. Things you need to think about include:-

  • punctuality
  • attendance
  • respect for your colleagues and your work
  • meeting deadlines and carrying out your responsibilities effectively
  • maintaining a professional attitude at all times
  • dressing appropriately

Have regular meetings with your CASE supervisor

Having regular meetings meetings with your supervisor will allow you to talk about your research progress and will give you the opportunity to discuss any difficulties you may be having.

Your supervisor may also be able to offer advice and help you progress and improve as an individual. 

Have a positive attitude

You may well be given tasks you do not find very interesting as part of your internship, such as data entry or filing, but the key is to complete all tasks with equal levels of enthusiasm and professionalism.

  • Make sure you avoid negativity – do not be rude or appear close-minded. Your attitude to your work will be instantly noticed by your colleagues.
  • Always be willing to learn
  • Take every opportunity you get to attend meetings/conferences/events/workshops which will give you the chance to increase your knowledge, network and build working relationships.
  • Do not be afraid to ask questions

Undertaking a CASE placement is a learning experience and you are not expected to know everything. Seek advice and ask questions when you come across things you do not understand. Checking something you are unsure of before you do it will ensure you complete your tasks to the best of your ability.

Use your initiative

Employers always like to see employees take the initiative and tackle problems themselves. Problem-solving will help you become more confident in your work and you will find your placement more rewarding.

Network

It’s very important to try and network with your colleagues during your placement. They can be a great source of job-hunting advice and can offer you a range of helpful tips on how to progress in your career.

Specific networking sessions can take place at conferences or work events, but do not forget the importance of being sociable each day in the workplace. Having a chat with someone in the canteen, joining a company sports team or attending a work social event will show that you are a good communicator and a team player, skills that are often seen as very desirable by employers.

End your placement on a high note

As you reach the end of your placement remember to show appreciation for the opportunity you’ve been given by the staff at the organisation. Remember, you may want to contact them in the future for a reference or even a job!

Professional practice

Undertaking a placement may be your first encounter of employment or it may be that you already have some working experience. Either way, please ensure you conduct yourself professionally at all times with an understanding of the standards and expectations of your CASE organisation.

Once you have agreed with your supervisory team and CASE partner when to undertake the placement, you are expected to undertake that placement. It will not be seen as acceptable professional practice to withdraw for anything other than genuinely unforeseen circumstances.

Keeping good communication with your supervisory team will ensure that the timing of your placement will fit in with other plans for your PhD project. Please note, you are required to regularly maintain contact with your supervisor throughout your placement.

Complete your BBSRC CASE report

You will be required to complete a report for BBSRC following completion of your placement (or at the end of your placements if undertaking multiple). This is a requirement of your funding.

The CASE placement report is accessed via a link that is unique to each student. To obtain a link, each student should email CASE@bbsrc.ac.uk with the text ‘Please email me a link to the BBSRC DTP CASE Report’ in the subject field. Only the BBSRC will see this report.

You are required to complete this within 3 months of completion of your CASE placement. 

SWBio DTP CASE Report

In addition to the report for BBSRC you will also need to complete the SWBio DTP CASE report. This is a set of questions to find out about your placement and the experience you had. Some of the questions may be similar to your BBSRC CASE report but this is retained by BBSRC and not shared further. Subsequently, please do just copy and paste where you are able to. The student feedback form will need to be sent back to swbio-dtp@bristol.ac.uk.

The SWBio DTP Careers Conference will be held each year in June for all SWBio DTP students to attend.

Alongside introducing the PIPS scheme (optional for CASE students), training sessions are also provided to support you in preparation/undertaking your CASE placement. Sessions are also provided to support your career opportunities following your PhD.

Following your CASE placement you will also be invited to share your experience with your cohort through a short presentation at the first Annual Careers Conference following completion of your placement.

As part of the SWBio DTP, you are expected to attend the Careers Conference each year of your studies.