The Researcher Strategy Consultancy

The purpose of the Researcher Strategy Consultancy programme is to provide early career researchers with an opportunity to develop the core employability skills required for a transition into analytical, business, or policy roles in a range of sectors.

Particular emphasis is given to business awareness, teamwork, communication and leadership to complement other training available to researchers. 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. The next RSC programme will run September - December. Apply via CareerConnect.


Current Oxford students (undergraduate and postgraduate) who are not eligible to join Researcher Strategy Consultancy can apply for The Oxford Strategy Challenge. After completing the Challenge, you will be eligible to apply for The Student Consultancy.

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The Researcher Strategy Consultancy will provide participants with an opportunity to:
  • Submit a video interview as part of an assessment process and hone their presentation skills
  • Develop key employability skills such as business and customer awareness, strategic thinking, creativity, team working and communication
  • Utilise existing transferrable skills and develop new competencies to demonstrate in CVs and interviews
  • Tackle strategic business issues and opportunities and make a contribution to a sector
  • Gain an awareness of the commercial, social and behavioural contexts of professional environments.

Researchers participate 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.

"The researcher consultancy helped me understand the value post docs and DPhil can bring to organizations outside of academia. I couldn’t recommend this program enough to any researcher even vaguely considering a move to industry or government". (Luke Jew, DPhil Astrophysics, former TRSC participant)

"The Researcher Strategy Consultancy offers a lens into different working worlds – from the overall strategic aims of the organisation right down to workplace culture” (postdoc participant, 2018) 

“Thank you so much for providing this opportunity, it has been eye-opening in many respects and has given me confidence to apply my research skills in a non-academic context!” (participant in our sister programme The Oxford Strategy Challenge) 

The Researcher Strategy Consultancy is a team-based, experiential learning event. Every aspect of the process will present a learning opportunity.

Assessment and Training

The programme begins with an assessment centre task and two training sessions. You will then be placed in your team (usually of 6 people) and will given a short case study to complete as a team before the second training session. Once you have completed both training sessions you will be given your client brief.

Project work

Following the initial training sessions, teams meet with their client and then collaborate to develop solutions that meet the client’s brief. Teams have the opportunity to check in with the Researcher Strategy Consultancy programme co-ordinator mid-way through their projects, and Career Service support is available throughout the programme.

Graduation event

We will wrap up Researcher Strategy Consultancy with a graduation event for you to network with others and share your experience and feedback.

The next programme will run in Michaelmas term on the following dates. Apply via CareerConnect.

Assessment 

Applications close – 9 am 9 Sept 

Assessment centre (completing a short ONLINE video – 12 Sept 

Participants invited to training – 13 Sept 

Training 

Training session one IN PERSON – 15 Sept 16:30 – 19:00

Training session two IN PERSON – 16 Sept 16:30 – 19:00

 

Project work 

Participants begin client project work – 16 Sept onwards 

Mid-programme check in– 1 November 

 

Graduation  

Graduation event IN PERSON – 14 December 16:30 – 18:00

This programme is open to late stage DPhils (DPhil candidates in their 3rd or 4th year of a full-time DPhil or over half way through a part-time DPhil and research staff (grades 6-8) from any discipline. Selection is based on factors that include:

  • creativity in finding solutions
  • approach to business situations and interest in commercial awareness
  • teamwork and communication skills.

Staff who already hold a PhD and are currently on teaching-only contracts at the University of Oxford or its colleges may also be accepted.

We are unable to accept applications from Said Business School students, Visiting Students, alumni or those who have previously participated (you can apply if you have applied before but were not accepted).

Early stage DPhils and current students at an earlier stage in their academic careers can apply to join The Oxford Strategy Challenge. After completing the Challenge, students will be eligible to apply to The Student Consultancy.

Participation in the programme is voluntary and unpaid. We will reimburse reasonable expenses for data collection. 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 funding or visa agreements.

Research staff

You may consider using some professional development days to take part in this programme. To find out more about the Universities commitment to ensuring all research staff can benefit from the Concordat entitlements, including a minimum of 10 days of professional development per year see the Concordat for the Career Development of Researchers. If you have queries about this please contact researcherhub@admin.ox.ac.uk.

Before applying please bear in mind that permission may be required from your PI, Head of Department and possibly the funding body providing the award from which your 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 their wish to use some of their allotted time for professional development activities 
  • the staff immigration team on visas if applicable. Contact: james.baker@admin.ox.ac.uk

Please advise at the earliest possible opportunity if you are concerned about potential conflicts of interest on this programme so that this can be taken into account when allocating projects. Email: courses@careers.ox.ac.uk

What will it cost me?

There is no cost to you for taking part. You won't be charging for your projects so there will be no charge to the organisations either. Expenses for data collection can be reimbursed only on presentation of receipts.

How much time should I spend on this programme?

You should put aside around 2-4 hours per week for the project. However, this depends on nature of the project and how you decide to distribute tasks in your team.

What do I need to take part? 

The programme will be delivered in person and online via Canvas. You will need internet access for the duration of the programme. The assessment centre will consist of a short video submission recorded and submitted on Canvas. Training will be delivered in person. Client meetings may take place remotely. If you have any questions about accessing either the assessment centre, training sessions, or client meetings, please email courses@careers.ox.ac.uk

How long will the assessment centre last? 

The assessment centre task consists of a short 2 minute video which you will be asked to record and submit via Canvas. You will be given 24 hours to complete this task. There will be an opportunity for feedback on your assessment submission.

Does my area of expertise influence selection?

No. We create diverse teams to the client projects.

Do I have to be interested in a management consultancy career? (Or know what I want to do yet?)

No. You will have an opportunity to further develop a broad range of transferable skills including teamwork, leadership, communication and business awareness. These along with the client relationship experience, will be helpful in a wide range of future careers. The experience will help you demonstrate your potential in applications, on your CV and in interviews.

I’m not eligible for The Researcher Strategy Consultancy but I'm interested in this type of programme. What can I do?

The Oxford Strategy Challenge is a shorter hackathon style programme. Once participants have completed an assessment task and training, they collaborate within a small team to tackle a client brief over 5 days. The Challenge is open to all current students, including early stage DPhils.

What organisations take part in the programme?

We attract new clients as the reputation of our programmes spread and most clients come back with more projects. Our past clients include larger organisations such as Kidney Research UK, Oxfam, Jaguar Land Rover and Santander as well as local Government, start-up and small businesses, charities and community groups.


If you have any further questions, please get in touch with us on courses@careers.ox.ac.uk.

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