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DISCnet HandBook

Page history last edited by Seb Oliver 8 months, 2 weeks ago


Welcome to the DISCnet Handbook! This handbook provides a practical guide to all students and supervisors as to how DISCnet runs.

If you are looking for a more externally facing view of DISCnet you should go to the DISCnet public www pages. discnet.co.uk





About DISCnet

DISCnet is the Data Intensive Science Centre in the South East Physics Network. DISCnet is a centre for doctoral training, receiving funding from STFC and 5 universities in the south east of England (University of Sussex, University of Southampton, University of Portsmouth, Queen Mary University of London, and the Open University).  We are open to students from the South East Physics Network, SEPnet. We are focused on training in data intensive science techniques and their application to both academic research projects (particularly in particle physics and astrophysics) and also outside the academic sphere in industry and the wider society.


Academic regulations

Since DISCnet students are registered at many different institutions the academic regulations governing the supervision, progression, etc. are all covered by the local institutions.  The DISCnet guidelines presented here do not supersede those regulations.


We will aim to provide up-to-date links to the relevant regulations at your university, but it is your responsibility to locate the most recent versions of these and be familiar with them.  If you have any problem with finding what you need at your university then please contact the DISCnet Director.



Financial regulations

The rules (particularly around funding) that govern how the multiple institutions interact are defined in the Consortium Agreement (CA) - anything written in this Handbook is intended to be consistent with that agreement but, in the event of any discrepancy, the CA will apply.  The university finance offices should have access to the CA.


Supervisor Responsibilities

The PhD research project is an essential part of the DISCnet training.  Each student has an identified primary supervisor (in most cases this will be someone who is in an STFC area). There will be a supervisory team of at least a primary and secondary supervisor.  For DISCnet Scholarship and Registered students (see below) the supervisory team should include an expert from a data-intensive area outside STFC/PPAN.


The supervision team are responsible for


  • Supervising the PhD student academic research project
  • Supporting the PhD student 
  • Understanding the obligations of the student
  • Management of resources for the student
  • Negotiation of placement arrangements between university and placement provider
  • Monitoring and supporting the student during placements (see below)

What DISCnet Provides

DISCnet provides a number of different benefits to students.

  • "Scholarship" Funding: some students will have their stipend and fees paid for by DISCnet (sourced either 100% from STFC funding, 100% from universities through our matched funding obligations, or 50% from each)
  • Core Training: DISCnet provides a core data intensive science training programme. This consists of six courses and is primarily delivered through residential courses.
  • External Placements: some students will be undertaking placements in partner organisations outside universities. DISCnet will arrange for placement opportunities to be advertised and facilitate the pairing of student and placement partner.
  • Additional training that goes beyond the core, e.g. attending PyData meetups, Science To Data Science
  • Peer-peer network
  • Industry partner Network with career opportunities e.g., through the DISCnet Showcase event and via Linked-In group).
  • Other events, e.g. hackathons


DISCnet studentship modes

Students may be involved with DISCnet in different ways.

  • DISCnet Scholarship Students are those who are funded by DISCnet and are obliged to undertake the core training programme and undertake 6-months of placements
  • DISCnet Registered Students are those whose stipend and fees are not funded by DISCnet (e.g., students on an institutional STFC Doctoral Training Programme), but who register with DISCnet through the payment of a £1,000 fee.
  • DISCnet Affiliated Students are those who have signed up to mailing lists to receive information about DISCnet training and have attended at least one training event.  Some students have also done placements as Affiliated Students.
  • Year of entry: DISCnet currently has two cohorts of students, who started in September 2017 and September 2018. Students from earlier cohorts have benefited from DISCnet as Affiliated students.


Summary of benefits by type of student


Student Stipend &

Institutional Tuition Fees

Funded by DISCnet

Duration of PhD / years



membership fee

Annual Training


Year 1

Core Training

External Partner Placements

Additional Training
STFC registered
RTSG Fieldwork Funding

4 years


6m placement)

No £600 Yes (Mandatory)
Yes (Mandatory)
£1230 p.a. £2,230 p.a. (see below)
3-4 years £1,000 £0 Yes

Yes (where external

partner is funding)

Yes (subject to

any additional fees)

May vary, e.g., STFC-DTP £1230 p.a. Varies e.g. STFC-DTP average £1,075 p.a.
3-4 years No £0 

If space available;

£400 per course

If space available

If space available

(subject to any additional fees)

- Varies e.g. STFC-DTP average £1,075 p.a.



Recruitment & Registration

Students are recruited to their host institution.  The project, supervision team and student recruitment processes needs to be validated by the DISCnet recruitment committee in a "light touch" process, using the following form.


Student Stipend & Institutional Fees

For Scholarship students the student stipend and institutional tuition fees are funded from DISCnet. Ultimately the funds for this come either from STFC, or the host institution, or some combination of the two. This should be transparent to the Student who should receive their Stipend in the same way as any other PhD student. However, the balance does affect whether the student can be considered as an STFC student, and students and supervisors should contact their institutional administration representative to find out their funding source.


STFC Registration

Students in DISCnet may or may not be registered as an "STFC student". The benefits of being an STFC student are that you have access to Long Term Attachment Funding (see below) and you can attend STFC training events for free. The assessment depends on where your funding comes from. The rules for STFC Data Intensive CDTs (like DISCnet) are slightly different than for normal STFC DTP studentships.  You will need to check this with your host institution.

For DISCnet Scholarship students if (over the course of your studies)  50% or more of your funding comes from STFC then you will be counted as an STFC student.


Data Intensive Training

The details of our core training program can be found on our www page. www.discnet.sussex.ac.uk

The 2018 programme is outlined below.  An up-to-date schedule can be found through our google calendar. Attendance at the "Core" courses is mandatory for Scholarship students.



An important consideration in DISCnet is the student's future career.  DISCnet place equal value on academic or a non-academic career paths and recognise that students may move from one to another. 


Specific careers training will be provided as part of the core DISCnet training above


Careers training is also provided through the host institutions and in particular supported through the SEPnet employability officers.

  • University of Sussex: Employability Advisor/SEPnet Employer Engagement Emma Hallatt
  • University of Southampton: SEPnet Employer Engagement: Michelle Limbert
  • Queen Mary, University of London: Veronica Benson
  • University of Portsmouth: Jaewoo Joo
  • Open University: Sharron Jenkins 


An important part of any career development path is networking and DISCnet facilitates this through a large network of partners.  Networking is supported with the DISCnet Showcase event and through our Linked-In Group 


DISCnet students will be eligible to apply for Pivigo's Science to Data Science course S2DS. This course is five weeks of intensive, project-based training turning exceptional analytical PhDs and MScs into Data Scientists. This course is extremely focused on employability and students work with a company on a commercial data science project designed to kick-start a data science career! For DISCnet Scholarship students this course is free for students accepted on to the course.



Health and welfare

We take the health and welfare of the DISCnet students very seriously.  However, as a distributed organisation it is hard for us to provide direct support.  The host organisations have well structured systems in place to support student health and welfare. 


If any student is concerned about their health or welfare (or those of other students), and they cannot or are not sure how to resolve that at local institutions, then they should contact the DISCnet Director.


Mental Health or PhD support in in particular..



Code of Conduct

In response to student feedback and following good practice in other organisations we have adopted a code of practice for our training events and other meetings.  The principles of this code of conduct would also apply to other DISCnet activities





External Placements

The external placement policy is in the following documents






The procedure for placements in 2019-2020 is in the following document.


Process_DISCnet placements_20192020.pdf



Requirements Upon Securing a Placement

When a student has successfully agreed a placement they should inform the Placement Manager-Michelle Limbert M.Limbert@Soton.ac.uk


They should then contact the appropriate named individual/email address at their host university as soon as possible (well before starting the placement) to arrange the next steps relative to their stipend/insurance requirements etc. 


Contact details as follows of who should be contacted as follows:











Queen Mary 

r.miles@qmul.ac.uk   (Rob Miles PGR administrator in the School of Physics)


Open University

The postgrad tutor Dave Rothery david.rothery@open.ac.uk

and PGR admin  STEM-SPS-PhD@open.ac.uk


This will ensure processes are put in place with regard to their registration status and their stipend/salary arrangements. This also ensures appropriate insurance measures and intellectual property issues are clarified.


VISA Stipulations

It may be that the terms of your VISA (should you be an international student etc) will also outline stipulations around working / taking up a placement/hours allowed to work. Again contact the above grad school/ PGR support to discuss .


Resources for Travel

Scholarship students are eligible for various resources for travel, conferences etc.

  • Research Training Support Grant (including conferences and UK fieldwork) RTSG. This is allocated at a rate £1230 p.a. for each student. £600 p.a. is pre-allocated to the DISCnet training fees.
  • Overseas fieldwork: a budget for fieldwork is allocated to each institution. This is currently calculated at a nominal rate of £2,230 p.a. per student. However, the distribution is the responsibility the host university. STFC has quite a broad definition as "Overseas fieldwork is short term trips taken outside of the UK for observing, collaboration and workshops relevant to the student’s PhD training."  (See #32 in the STFC frequently asked questions)

STFC students are also eligible for:

  • Long Term Attachment. This is for travel on trips for more than 120 days. (see STFC guidelines). Applications are made by institution during the first year of the student's registration by the end of March. For DISCnet Scholarship students, the award is made to Southampton for subsequent re-allocation.


Student Representation

There is (or will be) a student representative for each cohort of students. The student representative provides feedback reports for the senior management team and may attend SMT meetings.


Access to HPC at different sites

There is an expectation that DISCnet students can access HPC facilities at any of the DISCnet university sites.


Publication, press and acknowledging DISCnet support

We hope and expect that DISCnet students will be productive in their research resulting in academic publications and press attention.  The following acknowledgement text  should be included in any publications.


"This work was supported by the Science and Technology Facilities Council [grant number ST/P006760/1] through the DISCnet Centre for Doctoral Training". 


We also ask that you add a separate affiliation to your name, in addition to your standard Univeristy one, along the lines of:


"DISCnet Centre for Doctoral Training, [Your university], [your city], [your postcode], United Kingdom"


DISCnet Centre for Doctoral Training, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom


If you are considering any press release or similar for your work you need to inform the Director so that we can ensure that the policy in the consortium agreement is followed.



Key Contacts

Email Address
Seb Oliver
Liaison with Students and Advisory Board, Strategy, anything not covered below
Deputy Director
Seb Hoenig 
Budget holder
Director of Recruitment Committee
Stephen Serjeant
Recruitment and registration of new students. Progression of students
Director of Placement and Partnership Committee

Seb Oliver

Definition of placement projects with partners. Advertising to students. Processes to validate placements.


Director of Training Committee Eram Rizvi Development, delivery and monitoring of training courses
Member of Management Team
Andrew Lundgren Overall responsibility for public WWW page, andrew.lundgren@port.ac.uk
DISCnet Placement Manager Michelle Limbert
Organisational aspects of DISCnet as a whole, in particular the placement scheme.
DISCnet Administrator
Ceris French Administrative aspects of DISCnet as a whole
GRADnet Representative Stefano Moretti Liaison with Students on DISCnet vs GRADnet matters S.Moretti@soton.ac.uk
SEPnet Employer Engagement Coordinator Veronica Benson Careers and employer engagement for SEPnet
Chair of Advisory Board
Tom Babbedge
Chairing advisory board and informal advice to DISCnet Senior Management as required
Innovation Partnership Fellow Peter Hurley Developing links with partner organisations. Providing guidance to students on innovation and entrepreneurship P.D.Hurley@Sussex.ac.uk
Innovation Partnership Fellow Gill Prosser Developing links with partner organisations. Providing guidance to students on innovation and entrepreneurship

Manager, Student Opportunities

Robert Wilson Developing links with partner organisations. Providing guidance to students on innovation and entrepreneurship robert.wilson@open.ac.uk
2017 Entry Student Rep. Reese Wilkinson
Representing students to Senior Management Team, collating student feedback in reports, attendance of Senior Management Team meetings and Advisory Board meetings as able.
2018 Entry Student Rep. Joe Davies
Representing students to Senior Management Team, collating student feedback in reports, attendance of Senior Management Team meetings and Advisory Board meetings as able. j.m.m.davies@qmul.ac.uk
2019 Entry Student Rep. TBD
University of Sussex Administrative Contact
Rebecca Foster, Amanda Britt
First point of contact would be Rebecca Foster (generic email address listed here would reach her).  Questions about finances or placement arrangements might be referred up, but she is the starting point.
University of Southampton Student Administrative Contact 
Janette Osborne, Lottie Scholefield Using the generic email address will ensure your query reaches the right person. feps-gradschool@soton.ac.uk
University of Portsmouth Student Administrative Contact
Georgia Heath, Holly Purslow
Queen Mary, University of London Robert Miles






We can communicate with you through various routes and you can communicate with each other through these too.



Mailing lists

We hold a number of mailing lists for different groups of people and for different purposes.  Please ensure that you are signed up for the correct ones.

Name of list
 Who is on this
Type of list
Sign-up, archives etc.
DISCnet-SMT Senior Management Team (Seb Oliver, Seb Hoenig, Stephen Serjeant, Eram Rizvi, Andy Lundgren)
DISCnet-Supervisors OBSOLETE
 discnet-ab@sussex.ac.uk discnet-ab
All students 


DISCnet Calendar

The DISCnet Calendar is intended to include all DISCnet relevant events.  It is a google calendar and so you can "subscribe" to in through various ways.  The google calendar ID is

p24qkd6tl0klk8t1v6ulagqu80@group.calendar.google.com.  The public address in iCal format is https://calendar.google.com/calendar/ical/p24qkd6tl0klk8t1v6ulagqu80%40group.calendar.google.com/public/basic.ics





(There is also a "management" calendar which includes management telecons and is less relevant to students and supervisors if you want access to that it

the google calendar id is qtto8v1sq1sc3qpdvndp9hapos@group.calendar.google.com or ical format https://calendar.google.com/calendar/ical/qtto8v1sq1sc3qpdvndp9hapos%40group.calendar.google.com/public/basic.ics)



Frequently Asked Questions

We will maintain a list of frequently asked questions here.


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