Students and graduates
Advanced degree accreditation is one way of showing employers you have the practical skills and knowledge they are looking for. The Advanced Degree Accreditation Programme has established a profile of skills that employers can recognise in graduates.
Studying an advanced accredited degree
Studying a degree with advanced accreditation by the Royal Society of Biology means that you will most likely complete a year in industry or integrated masters year, this is essential to advanced accreditation and shows that you have had the opportunity to conduct your own research in a professional environment. Your degree will have been shown to deliver up-to-date knowledge of the subject and the most current research and analytical methods, as well as the right learning support and teaching environments.
When we developed advanced degree accreditation we knew that employers in the bioscience industry were looking for skilled and experienced graduates and that the demands of working in research aren't always what graduates are expecting. Along with experts from industry and higher education, we decided that for a degree to be accredited, it must provide students with substantial research experience and skills - the sort that are required by employers.
What does it mean if my degree is awarded advanced accreditation before I graduate?
Your degree won't change, and it will still be the same degree you applied for. Advanced accreditation means that it has been assessed by experts on behalf of the Royal Society of Biology and meets the criteria for advanced accreditation.
If you're not sure if your degree has been awarded advanced accreditation, check our list of advanced accredited programmes.
Getting practical experience and preparing for your year in industry
The period of hands-on experience is central to advanced accreditation, and an important part of all advanced accredited degrees; it will usually last 6-12 months and will be either a sandwich year in industry or an integrated masters year.
The period of practice isn't just about completing a research project; aside from getting to grips with experimental methods, you will gain experience in time and project management, you may be asked to write reports or give presentations, or use standard operating procedures and work to the Good Laboratory Practice standards.
If your advanced accredited degree features a sandwich year in industry, you may well have to go through an application process. Rachel Argo, a student on an advanced accredited course, blogged for us about her experiences during her placement year, and has some practical tips about preparing for your year in industry.
Top tips for your year in industry
Be preparedMake an early start on looking for a position; there might be a high demand for placements and you might be guaranteed to get one.
Get your CV up to scratchYou should treat your application for a sandwich placement as you would an application for a graduate role. This means tailoring each application to the role and getting it checked by a careers advisor, also check out our careers resources for CV and application tips.
Don't be afraid to make speculative applicationsRachel wrote to smaller biotech companies on the off-chance they might be able to take her on. This strategy can be time-consuming but can pay off. Don't be afraid to get in touch with the company to find out if they have the capacity to host a placement student before making a full application.
Do your researchResearch the organisation and the role; employers want to see that you know what will be expected of you and why you want to work for them. Interviews for technical roles might involve competency-based questions, such as "what assay would you use when screening for X" or "how would you assess population size in a given environment", so researching the role can help you prepare for these sort of questions.
Make the most of your yearGet involved, meet people and network, and stay in touch with your colleagues after you leave - you never know when you might need a reference.
Employability and job hunting
If you are graduating from a Royal Society of Biology advanced accredited degree, you might already be thinking of a career in research. Employers are always looking for experienced graduates, and coming from an advanced accredited programme, you will be able to show you have that experience.
Advanced degree accreditation has established a profile of skills that bioscience employers will be able to recognise in graduates from advanced accredited degrees. These skills include:
- Proven practical experience
- An understanding of physics, maths, and chemistry in a biological context
- Analytical and problem solving skills; including data handling and interpretation, and effective use of statistics
- The capacity for independent study
- Effective communication to both specialist and non-specialist audiences
- A critical awareness of developments in your field of study
- The ability to independently apply appropriate experimental approaches in modern research, and an appreciation of effective experimental design
- A knowledge and appreciation of accepted protocols and methods, including an understanding of appropriate research conduct and ethics
When making a job application, don't just list your skills and experiences, demonstrate how you got those skills and explain what you learned from your experiences. Your degree should have provided you with plenty of opportunities to do this; the skills profile is based on what students from accredited degrees should be able achieve when they graduate. Most importantly, make sure you state on your CV that your degree has been awarded advanced accreditation by the Royal Society of Biology.
Our careers resources have loads of practical advice about job hunting, writing your CV, and making applications.
Get on faster
Once you graduate from an advanced accredited degree, you will be able to become a member of the Royal Society of Biology after two further years of work or professional practice, rather than the usual three.
Through membership you will:
- demonstrate professionalism and show you have the skills and practical experience many employers are looking for
- maintain those skills through our continuing professional development programme and work towards gaining professional registration
- keep up to date with the sector through our newsletters and e-bulletins, and receive a free subscription to The Biologist, our award-winning magazine
- network with other professionals at our events and access our exclusive Members Directory
- save money through discounts for life science titles from selected publishers and discounted professional development courses