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Lead SDTA and key contact

SDTA Scheme Overview

When you join DPAG, you will become a member of one of three SDTA groups which will be led by three or four SDTAs. In these groups, your SDTAs will meet with you several times per term as a mandatory requirement of your study programme. At these meetings, all students present their research project once per year, and are expected to attend the other sessions to listen to and feedback on their colleagues' talks.

There will be three or four SDTA meetings per term, during which two or three speakers will deliver a 10-minute presentation of their research project to an audience of between ten and sixteen DPhil and Masters students. The talks are followed by a 5 minutes of questions from the audience and SDTAs. The speakers then receive qualitative feedback from the other students in the audience. 

Following each meeting, the SDTAs hold 10-15 minute one-to-one feedback sessions with each speaker. The SDTAs and speakers score all talks out of 12 and progress is tracked over the course of your study.

Roundtable Discussions

In addition to the research presentation meetings, each term there will be a roundtable discussion with topics set by students. These often include career options, time management, meeting DPhil requirements, frequent challenges common to the cohort, among other key matters.

These discussions also present an opportunity for SDTAs to point out university and departmental resources and receive feedback regarding the SDTA session content and structure.

Overall, these discussions are an important opportunity for community building and pastoral support where all students feel heard.

What do I gain from these meetings?


Your SDTA meetings equip you with the following key skills:

  • understanding pitch, audience, narrative
  • selecting the appropriate content and level of complexity
  • learning to tell a story
  • designing effective slides
  • understanding the theatrical elements of public speaking (voice, body language) 
  • answering questions well (brevity)


Your SDTA meetings allow you to learn how to critically engage and ask good questions, particularly for content outside of your comfort zone. They also provide exposure to a variety of research strategies, and widen understanding of the nature of research “progress” and DPhil standards.

Your SDTAs