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Doctoral College

Skills Points System

Every PGR student is expected to take part in approximately 210 hours of development activities over the course of their studies. This is the quantity of training advised by the UK Research Councils, and is roughly equal to two weeks training and development for each full-time year of study.

Selection of appropriate development activities and courses should form part of your relationship with your supervisor and you should expect to discuss your development needs during your annual reviews. A tool to help you assess your development needs is the available from the Researcher Development team website. 

All PGR students are automatically registered on the Skills Points System (SPS) and they must ensure that their training record is kept up to date. The SPS captures generic and discipline-specific developmental activities that students are involved in, through the allocation of points. Points are given for courses or workshops run by Researcher Development, schools and institutes, and external organisations. Points are also awarded for participation in other activities such as conference attendance, teaching and attending seminars.

Read our guide on Guide How to use the SPS [PDF 1,423KB]

Key facts: 

    • Points can be accrued at any time during your doctorate.
    • Any activity that has helped to develop your research, skills or knowledge can be claimed. This includes training courses and workshops run by Researcher
    • Development, Schools and Institutes, and external organisations.
    • The only activities that cannot be claimed are things that are integral parts of the doctoral process (eg your research, meeting your supervisor, writing your 9-month report and thesis, mandatory Health & Safety training, etc)
      Activities such as attendance at conferences or giving research presentations will be eligible for a set number of points.
    • Most recurring activities (such as conference or seminar attendance and teaching) will have a maximum cap of points that can be gained, either per year or over the course of the degree.
    • If students come to Queen Mary with significant prior development training (gained, for example, through previous employment), this training may be accredited, subject to approval by Researcher Development who will also determine the points allocated.

Points gained are mapped against the four domains of the Vitae/RCUK Researcher Development Framework (RDF) in order to assist students and supervisors in planning individual personal development.

Recording your activities

The Skills Points System records training and development activities and keep track of the points accrued. You can log in and use the system using your college ID and password. Detailed instructions on how to use the system can be found at the bottom of this page and under the Help tab on the SPS.

How many points do I need to get?

Students are expected to accrue 210 points across the course of their doctoral degree. These points should be spread across all four domains, but there are a minimum number of points required in each domain.


Minimum number of points

Domain A (Knowledge and intellectual abilities)


Domain B (Personal effectiveness)


Domain C (Research governance and organisation


Domain D (Engagement, influence and impact)


Recording your activities

The PGR Skills Points System records training and development activities and keep track of the points accrued. You can log in and use the system using your college ID and password. Detailed information on how to use the system can be found under the Help tab on the SPS.

Any activities you have taken part in since September 2011 can be logged on the database. This may happen automatically (eg for Researcher Development courses), or you may be required to enter the information from your own records. Your School/Institute should provide you with information about how they will be using the system.

If you are unsure about any aspect of this system or the database, please look at the FAQs page. If you still have questions, please contact Fryni Panayidou.

Queen Mary Diploma of Researcher Development – Q-Dip

The Doctoral College at Queen Mary awards the Queen Mary Diploma of Researcher development (Q-Dip) in recognition of the completion of 210 hours of researcher development activities over the course of a PGR degree. 

Upon successful completion of a PGR degree, all Queen Mary students who log 210 hours, spread across all four domains, of researcher development activities on the Skills Point System will be awarded the Queen Mary Diploma of Researcher Development by the Doctoral College.

NB: Researcher development activity points must be logged on the Skills Points System at the point of viva to qualify.

Once the Doctoral College receives notification of PGR students passing their doctoral degree, students who have met the requirements of the Queen Mary Diploma of Researcher Development will automatically receive the Q-Dip along with their doctoral degree certificate.  This process will be administrated by the Doctoral College. 

To log researcher development points please use the Skills Points System - your log details are the same as your usual Queen Mary log in details. 

Any training activities you undertake during your PGR studies can be recorded through the Skills Points System. Each activity is awarded a specific number of points. The activities and points are then mapped against the four domains of the Vitae Researcher Development Framework, in order to help you and your supervisor plan your own personal development. 

If you have any queries please contact

Vitae_RCUK Researcher Development Framework (RDF)

The Research Councils’ views on skills training

The view of the development of transferable skills as an integral part of the research degree is supported by the seven UK Research Councils

“It is the Councils’ view that provision of generic skills training does not detract from, but contributes to, maximising research outputs by providing skills and tools to enable PhD students and postdoctoral researchers to become more effective in their research work as well as helping their subsequent careers.”

In 2001 the UK Research Councils set out a list of skills they felt that PhD students should be able to demonstrate on graduation. This document is called the Joint Skills Statement. An updated version of this document was produced in 2010 – the Researcher Development Statement (RDS). This divides the skills and attributes that postgraduate and early career researchers should have into four main domains:

  • Knowledge and Intellectual Abilities
  • Personal Effectiveness
  • Research Governance & Organisation
  • Engagement, Influence & Impact

You may hear both of these documents referred to, and although the details of the two differ, the message is the same – a research degree equips you with an enormous number of skills that will be crucial in whatever career you choose to pursue.

More information on Vitae and the RDF

graphic showing the various areas of professional development as per Vitae classification

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