The Researcher Strategy Consultancy | The Careers Service The Researcher Strategy Consultancy – Oxford University Careers Service
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The Researcher Strategy Consultancy (RSC) is an innovative skills programme for DPhil students, RAs, and postdocs. The purpose of the programme is to provide early career researchers (DPhil students, RAs, and Post-Docs) with an opportunity to develop the core employability skills required for a transition into analytical, business or policy roles in the public and private sector.

Applications are now closed for our programme running from March to June 2020. Dates for the September-December 2020 programme can be found below.

What to expect
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Particular emphasis is given to business awareness, teamwork, communication and leadership to complement other postgraduate training. This programme enables participants to build on skills that typically develop in designing, planning and conducting complex research projects. Whatever their career plans, including further research and academia, participants can benefit significantly from the programme.

Participants volunteer some of their own time to work in small teams, over a 3 month period, to address a strategic issue or business opportunity for a client organisation.

Our clients list includes start-ups, businesses, local and international charities, community organisations, University departments and Government agencies.

“RSC offers a lens into different working worlds – from the overall strategic aims of the organisation right down to workplace culture” (postdoc participant, 2018) 

The Researcher Strategy Consultancy will provide participants with an opportunity to:

  • Experience an Assessment Centre and hone their presentation skills
  • Develop key employability skills such as business and customer awareness, strategic thinking, creativity, team working and communication
  • Demonstrate key employability skills in their CV and in job interviews
  • Tackle strategic business issues and opportunities and make a contribution to the local community
  • Gain an awareness of the commercial, social and behavioural contexts of professional environments.

“I’ve come away with new skills, new friends and a brilliant experience of working with a local organisation.” (postdoc participant, 2018) 

New for 2020

This year we are approaching new clients in local government and civil society who work on social, health or education policy to tackle various dimensions of poverty. Approximately half the projects offered in the March-June round will have this particular focus. The others will be with a range of commercial, public and voluntary organisations.

How does it work?
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The next RSC programme will run September-December. Applications will open in Trinity term.

The programme is open to researchers from any discipline, and selection is based on factors that include:

  • creativity in finding solutions
  • approach to a business challenges
  • teamwork and communication skills.

We cannot accept applications from Said Business School students or visiting students.

After a shortlisting exercise, applicants will be invited to an Assessment Centre. Programme participants will be selected and invited to two training sessions to prepare for the project work. The training content includes an introduction to consulting, key business or policy issues and how to address them, market or stakeholder research, facilitation and interviewing techniques, client management and report preparation. Specific training will be given to participants working with new clients in local social, educational or health policy.

Participants will be put into multi-disciplinary teams to work on an allocated client project. Each team will engage with their client on the project work and present their findings over a period of ten to twelve weeks. The Careers Service will be available to support teams with any questions or needs that may arise.

Teams will wrap up the client projects and gather at the Careers Service for an end-of-programme event where there will be an opportunity to celebrate their success, share learning and exchange experiences.

Programme schedule
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The Michaelmas 2020 programme will run from September to December 2020. Applications will open in Trinity term.

Dates Activity
Thursday 3 September Applications close (at noon).
Tuesday 15 September Assessment Centre**
2 x 1 hour sessions (5pm & 6pm)
Tuesday 22 & Thursday 24 September Training sessions**
(4pm – 7pm) (Catering provided)
By w/c 7 December Project work and final presentations to client completed
Wednesday 9 December End of programme event
(5pm – 7pm)

**You must be available for the assessment centre and both training sessions in order to participate

Important information
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Participation in the programme is voluntary and unpaid. We will reimburse reasonable expenses for travel to client meetings or data collection and travel within Oxford for project meetings. Expenses for travel or data collection can be reimbursed only through completing the University claim form and on presentation of receipts.

It is the responsibility of all applicants to ensure they can take on this experiential learning project within the terms of their study commitments, funding or visa agreements.

DPhil students

DPhil students who apply and participate in RSC must satisfy themselves that the project is suitable for their needs in terms of the learning opportunity and nature of the work involved, and are advised to:

  • consult their supervisors on how RSC helps fulfil their training needs and agree time commitments;
  • seek advice on visas

Research staff

For research staff, it is the University’s policy to support individuals in identifying relevant professional development and training. In some cases, this includes a quantified allocation of time, such as up to ten days per year in MPLS and 5 days in MSD.

Research staff should also ensure compliance with the University’s Council regulations on holding outside appointments and those of any funders providing salaries. University academic and academic-related employees (with the exception of Associate Professors who have colleges as their main employer; please see the paragraph below) are permitted to hold outside appointments and to undertake other outside activities, including consultancies, which require a commitment of time that otherwise might reasonably be expected to be devoted to University duties, subject to the approval of their direct line manager (where relevant) and their head of department or the chair of the faculty board.

Applicants whose salaries are funded from externally-funded research grants or contracts, or who are Principal Investigators or Co-Investigators on outside-sponsored projects, must adhere to the terms and conditions stipulated by or agreed with the sponsor and, if necessary, seek written approval from the sponsor. For example, The Wellcome Trust’s grant conditions include stringent conditions relating to the holding of consultancies and these apply equally to individuals who are in receipt of Wellcome Trust research grants, as well as to those whose salaries are paid from Wellcome Trust grants.

Permission may be required from a PI, Head of Department and possibly the funding body providing the award from which their salary is paid.

University employees continue to be bound by the University’s statutes, regulations and policies in particular the policies on Conflict of Interest, and Intellectual Property, as well as respecting the duties of confidentiality as set out in their contracts of employment.

Research staff are therefore advised to consult:

  • their PIs or departmental HR representatives on the terms of their contracts and wish to use some of their allotted time for professional development activities;
  • the staff immigration team on visas

Potential queries relating to research ethics in client project work will be considered in advance and on a case-by-case basis in accordance with University guidance on ethical procedures.

Get in touch
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If you have any queries regarding the programme, please contact

This information was last updated on 04 March 2020.
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Advice for those due to start the bar training in September

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