SWBio DTP Expectations of Rotation Projects

The Research

  • To be in different disciplines.
    PhD projects are expected to encompass truly interdisciplinary research. Rotation projects being in different disciplines ensures that this ethos is embedded at the beginning of their PhD. These should ideally be substantially different but complementary disciplines, for example molecular biology and biophysics, organismal biology and mathematical modelling, neuroscience and psychology.
  • Ideally at least one (if not both) of the rotation projects should be in an area that can be included directly within the thesis project.
    This is to optimise the time available as data collected in their first year can be included in their thesis.
  • To be standalone projects.
    Rotation Project 2 being a continuation of Rotation Project 1 is not acceptable. Nor should the second rotation be contingent on successful completion of experimental outcomes in the first project, as these may not be accomplished for reasons beyond the control of the student. These Rotation Projects will be written up as two separate 5000 word reports.
  • When planning, to take into careful consideration the flexibility of the research.
    The research will need to be completed alongside the compulsory taught units (intensive teaching blocks of 1-2 weeks). Feedback from students is that their rotation projects have not always been planned with this in mind, so it is very important that you take the time to think this through. A preliminary timetable will be provided when completing your final rotation projects.
  • If one of the Rotation Projects includes animal work, please undertake as part of the second Rotation Project
    There will be less interference with the taught timetable and allows time to acquire animal license/complete necessary training.


    • Normally these would take place within the main and second supervisor’s* research groups.
      This is so the student has the opportunity to embed within these key research groups at an early stage, in addition to supporting the research collaboration between the main and second supervisor. However, in some instances a rotation with another supervisor/collaborator or a CASE partner can provide exposure to and training in particular skills which are advantageous to the student’s thesis project, and will be allowable where justified.  This is also allowable where reasonable adjustments may need to be made for a student.
    • We discourage rotations in which the first and second Rotation Projects are hosted within the same ‘shared’ research space.
      We believe this prevents students from experiencing different research environments nor provides a truly independent second Rotation Project.
    • To spend the majority of the Rotation Project with the listed Rotation Project Supervisor.
      It is not acceptable for a student to remain in the first Rotation Project research group for their second rotation, being supervised ‘remotely’ by the second Rotation Project Supervisor.

*depending on type of studentship this would otherwise be the Rothamsted/Academic supervisor or the two lead supervisors.


  • For students undertaking their Rotation Project away from their host institution, all costs related to travel and accommodation to be met by the Rotation Project budget (£1k/rotation project) or if not via other forms of support.  Of note, the DTP is not able to provide further funding for this purpose.  
  • If undertaking a Rotation Project with a CASE partner, all costs associated (travel/accommodation/consumables/training) need to be met by the CASE partner and will constitute part of their mandatory CASE placement (minimum of 3 months).

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

  • It is paramount that students receive the required support during their Rotation Projects.  As such, you must consult with the student to identify and consider any reasonable adjustments that may be needed.  Reasonable adjustments may need to be considered for a number of reasons such as disabilities, childcare/caring responsibilities and other personal circumstances.
  • For guidance on supporting students for their Rotation Projects with disabilities, please consult with the Disability Support Service at the registered university.
  • Please do contact the DTP Hub if you need any further help or guidance.

Further Notes

  • Proposed Rotation Projects are included as part of the project pro-forma so they are considered alongside the main project. However, students will have the opportunity to input into these proposed Rotation Projects in June/July before they start in September. We value students input into the Rotation Projects and we appreciate you being responsive to this. These final Rotation Projects will then be approved by the DTP.
  • Students will have the opportunity to refine their project (where feasible) in light of their Rotation Project experiences. This will be in consultation with their supervisory team in July/August at the end of their first year.