International Union of Crystallography

Powder Diffraction and Rietveld Refinement School 2012, Durham, UK

As detailed in the proposal, the Durham Powder Diffraction and Rietveld Refinement School 2012 combined lectures, small-group tutorials and hands-on computer practical sessions. Lectures were used to introduce the basic concepts of crystallography, powder diffraction and Rietveld refinement. Both by-hand and computer-based tutorials were problem-based learning oriented. For each hour of lectures there was at least an hour scheduled for small-group problems, led by lecturers and tutors, to help reinforce the concepts. The remaining ~50% of the course was spent with students going through computer practicals at their own pace. Over 60 computer-based problems and exercises were available on a range of different topics, ranging from basic peak fitting and powder pattern indexing, to advanced state-of-the-art diffraction data analysis methodologies, including parametric/surface fitting and distortion mode analysis. The structure of the course is such that everyone was introduced to and given some training in all these aspects of crystallography (and data collected using different types of sources and on different types of samples), but ultimately had the flexibility to spend more time learning and practising the material most relevant to their own research areas.

The International Dimension

In addition to the 7 overseas young scientists funded directly by the IUCr grant, we managed to secure additional industrial and Durham University support, which helped more international students attend the School. In fact, overseas participants constituted 25 out of 64 students (39%); they came from 17 different countries (on 3 continents): Ireland, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Slovenia, Thailand, India, Mexico, Brazil, Canada and the USA. In addition, 14 of the remaining participants were overseas students pursuing their PhDs UK institutions, some of whom are likely to return to their home countries and disseminate the knowledge acquired here. This brings the total international participation at Durham PDRR 2012 to 61%, and reflects the true scale of the international character of the School.

Student Feedback

  • "I think it was very well balanced and lovely all round! A really fantastic week - thank you."
  • "A very well balanced school with dedicated tutors. Must be appreciated. Great job!"
  • "Very informative and insightful. Awesome school!"
  • "I had a very educational week and enjoyed my time meeting other researchers in the pleasant city of Durham. Computer sessions were a great way of applying what we learned in lectures. The school was challenging, but just right in difficulty.
  • Thank you for the experience!"
  • "Many thanks for a very comprehensive and coherent school. It has cleared up a lot of confusion and hopefully my own data will make more sense."
  • "I really enjoyed it and learnt many things, and also I solved some of my usual problems."
  • "The school was extremely helpful to me and very enjoyable too. I found the tutorial sessions especially useful, and will refer to them again and again."
  • "Really nice to have so many foreigners in the school. Thank you very much for being so kind, I never expected to find such a nice group of teachers!!"
  • "I would like to thank you again for the marvellous week in Durham, the organization of the course and the excellent lessons and tutorials you have prepared for us."
  • "Thanks for all your professionalism and enthousiasm to teach and receive yours students, it is remarquable!!!"


We believe that the 2012 Durham Powder Diffraction and Rietveld Refinement School was very successful and addressed a key training in the UK and internationally. Feedback from students and colleagues supports our viewpoint. We look forward to organising the 7th School which will hopefully run at Easter 2014.

Dr. Ivana Radosavljevic Evans
Senior Lecturer in Structural/Materials Chemistry & International Coordinator
Department of Chemistry, Durham University, Durham DH1 3LE, U.K.