Earning and learning to be a teacher

PGCE with Supported Induction Route (SIR) –  a new course at the University of Dundee designed:

  • to help you become a teacher in a 52-week course
  • to meet Scotland’s demand for secondary teachers of STEM subjects
  • to combine Master-level training with school-based experience

Unlike other routes into teaching currently available in Scotland, with this programme you can study while receiving the equivalent of a probationer teacher’s salary (£22416 p.a. as at 1st April 2016).

Running from January to January, it brings together the first two steps in your career as a teacher, the initial teacher education programme and the Teacher Induction Scheme, and you will be fully registered with the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS), allowing you to teach pupils of secondary age in your subject specialism (Physics, Chemistry, Computing, Mathematic,) in Scottish schools.

Rather than the three 6-week placements you experience in a traditional teacher training course, the PGCE with SIR features a 37-week school placement, enabling the development of stronger, continuous working relationships with the school, its staff, pupils and the community.

Find out more here

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Finance to cancer research: student story

MPhys graduate Michal Tomaszewski  graduated as the top student on Mathematical Physics degree. Here he shares his story of gaining experience from various financial institutions before changing his path to cancer research.

Michal-Tomaszewski

When I was starting the masters year of my degree in Edinburgh, I was not sure what I would like to be doing. The several summer internships in the trading departments of investment banks, definitely helped my soft skills and business awareness, but I did not really feel like this is the work I would like to be doing for the years to come.

The idea of doing a PhD came to me as soon as I started the MPhys project I did with Dr Bartlomiej Waclaw in experimental biophysics. The exploratory nature of the work we did on the growth patterns of 3D bacterial colonies, trying to put together the various experimental and theoretical observations to make a coherent picture really appealed to me and I started looking online for PhD opportunities combining physics and biology.

While one needs to consider multiple factors such as the project formulation, research focus of the group and group leader, location and financial arrangements, the choice of a suitable PhD very much comes down to meeting the people and seeing the lab and the town – after all this is the environment you would be spending the next three to four years of your life in.

I graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an MPhys in Mathematical Physics in 2014 and went on to a PhD in cancer imaging at Cambridge University. I focus on the development of a new imaging technique to visualise the blood vessels in cancer tumour and measure their condition. The technology we are working with is called optoacoustics, and it relies on generation of ultrasound in the tissue following laser illumination. When the laser light gets absorbed, especially by strong absorbers such as haemoglobin in the blood, a small amount of heat is generated, causing thermal expansion and creation of a pressure wave which can get detected the same way as in traditional ultrasound imaging. During my work in Cambridge, I’ve developed a way to use this technology to gain insight into how well the tumour vasculature works, which gives doctors an indication of the aggressiveness of the disease and can guide the treatment.

Just like my work involves a mixture of physics and cancer biology, my affiliation is joint between the Department of Physics and the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. The latter is where my experiments are, and where I spend most time. Working for Cancer Research UK is a great pleasure, as a generously funded Cambridge Institute greatly supports our research. Especially in the field of imaging, where open access to large and expensive scanners is essential, a well-equipped centre helps the researchers greatly.

I find the work I do incredibly exciting and fulfilling for many reasons:

  • the wide scope of the project, involving working with in vivo tumour models
  • using various imaging modalities and learning to use the equipment as well as
  • being involved on the technical side of signal and image processing
  • writing code…….makes the work very varied and interesting.

Working directly with a cancer research charity, collaborating with clinician scientists provides great motivation as we can feel our advances, although preclinical, could in the future make a real difference in clinical care.

Fast track STEM teaching qualification

There is a new teacher education scheme at University of Dundee.  It’s a fast track STEM course which combines the one-year teaching qualification with the induction year.  The subjects it includes are Physics, Chemistry, Computing & Mathematics.

The benefits are that graduates will be in the classroom quicker and they are paid the probationer salary (£22,500) from the outset.  This is a two-year pilot and the first year of the course runs from January 2018 to January 2019.  You apply directly to the University of Dundee and the closing date is 17th October.

To find out more have a look at Dundee’s website

Dundee are still offering the more traditional PGDE Secondary alongside this new option.

How light and sound give physicists a clearer picture of cancer – UoE alumni success

Michal Tomaszewski, who graduated as the top student on Mathematical Physics degree, is currently working on his PhD in cancer research at Cambridge and you can listen to him explain his ground breaking work in this video clip

Michal followed an interesting path. He did a business internship in the City and gained experience from various financial institutions before he changed his path to cancer research.   Having done a purely theoretical degree he is now at home in a wet lab.

It just shows:

  1. it’s good to try different things to work out where your preferences lie
  2. starting in one area doesn’t mean you have to stay there
  3. no matter what you do, you develop personally and professionally from it

Free course to help you manage your digital presence

The University is launching a new free digital footprint MOOC (massive online open course) which will begin on 3rd April and is now open for registration.  The MOOC has been developed with staff across the University including the Careers Service. The MOOC  features a video of my colleague Rebecca Valentine discussing how learners can create an effective online presence. They also have a blog

Find out more  and register to take part

Love Theoretical Physics?

One of graduates, Tomáš Gonda,  shares his personal experience  of this interesting and alternative Masters programme.  If you want to apply, closing date is coming up fast. Deadline date of February 1, 2017

Perimeter Scholars International (PSI) is a fairly new Masters programme offered by the Perimeter Institute (PI), one of the leading research centres in theoretical physics. It was created with an idea to offer an alternative to other similar programmes by avoiding grade-chasing aspect of these. This would enable students to focus on learning whatever they are most interested in without being forced to compete with the rest of the class.

Despite the fact that there are no official grades, there is an interview after each of the six core courses. It takes form of an informal discussion on the subject which can take many directions. A certain standard is required to pass each of these courses, but it is very rare that someone would fail the programme because of this.

The courses are often being taught by guest lecturers from other institutions apart from PI faculty members. This can be a bit of a hit and miss. Most of them are very good, but from time to time a lecturer who is not familiar with the context and style of courses can have issues adapting. Courses follow slightly different structure, being only 3 weeks long with a lecture every day, which might be one of the reasons for that.

One of the most important aspects of PSI is that it gives students a unique opportunity to interact with world-class researchers and this is very much encouraged. Thanks to the generally very open atmosphere at PI and the fact that the class is quite small, it is easy to get in touch with any of the faculty members or numerous interesting visitors throughout the year. The research aspect of PSI is also reflected in a sort of thesis carried out together with anyone from PI, Institute for Quantum Computing or University of Waterloo.

And last but not least, everything that one needs during the year is provided (meals, accommodation, laptop, etc.)