Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy

Welcome to the ICC/CEA/CfAI

This page holds useful information for new members of staff (including postdocs) and postgraduates. It is meant to help you find your way on your arrival at Durham. The location of the Ogden Centre West which houses most of the ICC, CEA and CfAI is shown on this Google Map and information on how to get to the Physics Department can be found here.

There are some general documents about working at Durham University here:

Important first day tasks

Hopefully you have already been talking to people before you have shown up, however since something will get forgotten, here there is a useful check list. In order to avoid complications, it is highly recommended to follow it in order when you arrive.
  1. Report your arrival to one of the astronomy/instrumentation secretaries: For CEA or ICC either of Shufei Rowe or Dorothy Jenkins and for CfAI Claire Whitehill .
  2. Get your campus card from the Computing and Information Services. If you are a non-EU citizen you might have an appointment with the Student Immigration and Financial Support Office, which is in the same building as the CIS.
  3. Once you have your CIS account, you can get access to the local network by talking with Aleksander Wawrzynczak (ICC/CEA) or Gary McCallum (CfAI) .
  4. Fill in the online departmental registration form with your details; this is necessary for enrolment on the Physics Database System and will automatically send a request for a key to your office. You will then be contacted by the departmental safety coordinator who will issue your key. You will also be contacted by the Physics Teaching, Research Technical Services (TRTS) Office, who will arrange an appointment with you to set up your University web profile. Note that there is special external link to the Physics database for when you are outside Durham but this has some limited functionality. You can access the internal version from anywhere using the Durham VPN . The Physics database is used extensively in organising the day-to-day running of the Physics Department from logging absences from work, through administering annual reviews, and viewing room bookings, to reporting building faults.
  5. Read the departmental health and safety policies, and our code of conduct.
  6. Get the key to your office from the Departmental Safety Coordinator (be aware that a returnable deposit of £15 is needed) - SHOULD NOW HAPPEN VIA THE DATABASE REGISTRATION.
  7. If you are a PhD student you need to enroll (be aware that you need to do this every year). You will need to check your registration on DUO/ULTRA.. If you need help or advice on this please contact physics.pg-admissions@durham.ac.uk (room Ph105).

Other important tasks to get started

  1. For members of staff (including postdocs) only, as soon as practical you must complete the University's on-line data protection training - staff can access this (and other required training) on the "Learning" section of the Oracle Fusion Portal.
  2. We aim to provide new students with a linux laptop, monitor and keyboard+mouse set, but please verify with Aleksander Wawrzynczak . New staff and postdocs please contact Aleksander Wawrzynczak to discuss equipment options. Orders can be placed in advance of your contract employment date.
  3. There is a requirement for new PDRAs to complete a "probationary agreement" within two weeks of starting and a “personal development plan” in the first year.
  4. All new staff are required to attend a Staff Induction event organised by Recruitment and you will be notified of this via email. You can also attend the Staff Information and Well-being Fair which is held three times per year so that, as a new staff member, you have the opportunity to find out more about the many benefits you can access. There are a range of information exhibits featuring departments such as Payroll & Pensions, Human Resources, Greenspace and CIS. Well-being exhibitors include: Counselling, Cyclescheme, Volunteering, Team Durham’s fitness classes and staff walks. Durham County Council’s Check 4 Life Team are available to give free, confidential health-checks (advanced booking required) and our University Occupational Health team will be there to offer any advice if needed.
  5. If you are intending to drive to work please be aware that parking on the Science Site is quite limited and by permit only (this is strictly enforced by an outside company). See Car Parking and Travel for how to apply for a permit, which once complete you submit to Wayne Dobby (Physics Technical Manager).
  6. Finally, academic staff, postdocs and students might want to think about joining one of Durham colleges or one of the student societies to meet people outside the department or practice some activity besides physics. Ask around to get more information on how colleges and societies work.
If you are coming to the UK from abroad, you can find practical information for new students at the International web pages and for staff by contacting Recruitment, they provide practical information on living in the UK, from advice on the cost of living, opening a UK bank account, obtaining your National Insurance Number, to driving in the UK.
During the first days after your arrival make sure to:

  1. Open a UK bank account, such that you get paid in time, as this process might take some time.
  2. Make an appointment to get your National Insurance number, as you need it to work in the UK.
  3. Register with a medical doctor.
  4. Depending on your visa you might need to register with the local police.

Useful Information about daily life in the department

  • This diagram depicts the organisation of the Physics department and lists some key contacts.

  • Normal building opening hours are 7am to 7pm on weekdays. For access outside these hours you need to complete the lone working risk assessment form on the Physics database.
  • The departmental Health and Safety Coordinator is Duncan McCallum .
  • Find your way around the Campus using the University maps.
  • You might want to know about the parking policies. There are also some schemes for cheap bus travel around Durham, which you can find via links on that page.
  • For information on printing, the wifi and all sorts of basic computing things, have a look here (only visible from computers within Durham).
  • Here is a Physics departmental floor plan to help you find your way around (note that there have been a few changes since this map was produced, in particular there are no longer any administration offices on the Rochester ground floor, and the main Physics reception is now OC102). There is also an interactive map on the Physics database.
  • You can get stationary from the TRTS (Teaching Research Techincal Services) team in room Ph127. You should write down in the provided folder what you took.
  • Mail related to your work can be posted at the main Physics reception in the glass fronted entrance to the Ogden Centre (East). Please read the instructions for franking your mail carefully.
  • Post that arrives for you can be found in the pigeon holes or parcel rack in Ph119D.
  • University term dates can be found here and your holiday entitlement is detailed here.
  • If you go out of the department for a (working) day or more you should report this by filling the "Absence register" in the Physics Database System This is a requirement for students & PDRAs, for immigration tracking purposes. Also, in the new building, we are extremely short of office/desk space for visitors. So we need to know if you will be away for a few days or longer, as we might want to use your desk for a visitor.
  • If you have a research trip, make sure that you follow the Travel Booking and Insurance Procedures.
  • There is a visitors' grant, so if you are interested in inviting someone get in contact with Dave Alexander (CEA), Shaun Cole (ICC) or Kieran O'Brien (CfAI).
  • If you want to book a meeting room click here .
  • During term time, the main astronomy seminar in the department happens on Wednesdays. When we have an in-person speaker, students and PDRAs are invited to lunch with the speaker at Grey college. Usually, we also take the speaker for dinner, and everyone is welcome to join. Online seminars are followed by a virtual Coffee.
  • Information on other regular talks, journal clubs, special interest group meetings and meetings of our Inclusion Diversity Equality Access (IDEA) group can be found at the Regular Meetings page.
  • You can socialize with the rest of the people in astronomy during the coffee breaks - roughly 11:15 and 16:15 in the central space of Level 1 of Ogden Centre West (the rest of the department take their breaks in the Bransden room in the Rochester building).
  • Once you have CIS account, various services, including booking training courses, accessing payslips and looking up your employee ID, can be accessed via the Oracle Fusion Portal. Note, you have to click the central banner labelled "Oracle Portal".
  • You can control to some extent what appears about you on the CEA/ICC Members pages by using the "CEA/ICC web display editor" on the physics department database. Please note that once you have had your picture taken for your staff profile by the physics teaching, research technical services (TRTS) office, to get this to display on the Members page you will need to add the URL of the image yourself using the CEA/ICC web display editor - your picture will not appear automatically.
  • You can order equipment through the on-line requisitions form in the Physics Database System. You will need the permission of the grant holder though, so make sure you talk to them first!
  • If you are a PhD student you might want to get involved in some teaching to earn some extra money. If you are a postdoc you will most likely be asked to do some hours of teaching. In both cases, you will need to use the Physics Database System and ULTRA. Term dates can be found here. Most staff are assigned teaching duties by 1st October. Any questions about teaching roles can be directed to Adrian Skelton (Learning and Teaching Manager) or Daniel Maitre (Director of Teaching).
  • To provide support and feedback on teaching all teaching activities include peer observation in which a colleague observers one teaching activity and supplies feedback.
  • Postdocs and research students each have representatives on certain departmental committees such as the staff-student consultative committee (postgraduate) and the ICC Staff meeting. Please ask your buddy or other fellow student/postdoc to introduce you to your representatives. (The Research Staff Consultative Committee postdoc reps are listed here.)
  • There are many public outreach opportunities to get involved, either through the Durham Physics Outreach Activites, the ICC outreach programme, or the Durham Astronomy Girls Day programme . We also have an informal association with the Kielder Observatory, who are always keen on volunteers to talk to the public (contact Nigel Metcalfe).
  • When preparing a paper for publication you should follow these instructions.
  • If you have trouble, the University provides a range of support services including a Counselling Service aimed at students and an Occupation Health Service for all employees. The University also provides an optionally anonymous Report and Support tool to report incidents of harassment and bullying, hate, sexual misconduct and other forms of abuse and access appropriate support.

Other Useful links: