PHD STUDENTS at a London college are to be given a helping hand under a scheme offering them a true interdisciplinary training and the funds to afford it.
From this year University College Londonis funding a number of its postgraduate students to spend a year of study, on top of thenormal three years needed for a PhD, within a UCL department away from their primary area of research.
This follows a review of PhD training at the college which identified what is described as "a real gap".
According to Jeffrey Jowell, head of UCL's graduate school, many of today's PhDs deal with questions that are often not restricted to one discipline. Yet students have largely concentrated within a narrow field sinceleaving school.
They found that graduates studying economics, for example, had little chance of obtaining funds to study the law needed to approach issues of economic regulation properly, while philosophers or historians of science might gain from a year's training in a scientific subject.
The college is offering scholarships for the extra year to enable postgraduates, who are often financially strapped, to afford the chance to widen their skills.
Professor Jowell said: "We would really hope research councils and charities pick up from this," he said. "We are putting our money where our interdisciplinary mouths are. It will take students a year longer this way, but we think it will make a huge difference in the student's approach to a question."