Skip to main content
Doctoral College

Plan and record your skills development

We support all research students to develop their research skills and personal effectiveness in order to succeed in their degree and excel in their future careers.

All doctoral students are expected to take part in approximately 210 hours of development activities over the course of their studies. This is roughly equal to two weeks' training and development for each full-time year of study.

Skills Assessment and Personal Development Plan

All full-time doctoral students at Queen Mary are expected to take part in two weeks of transferable skills training activities per academic year (part-time students should complete a pro-rata rate of training as appropriate).

Suggested activities include attending and presenting at conferences, participating in or helping to organise journal clubs, writing groups and seminar series, and attending training courses or workshops.

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.

The Skills Assessment and Personal Development plan [DOC 100KB] is designed to help you assess your development needs. This allows you to assess your confidence in a variety of skills and, in turn, create an action plan for your development at different stages of your doctorate.

The plan is based on the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF) which is structured into four domains covering the knowledge, behaviours and attributes of researchers. The skills descriptions are taken from Phase 1 of the RDF and reflect the skills that doctoral researchers should generally demonstrate at this early stage in their career.

Any training and development activities you take part in should then be recorded using the Skills Points System.

Skills Points System

To help you keep a record of all the training and development activities you take part in during your doctorate, you will be automatically registered on a database called Skills Points System (SPS) soon after you enrol as a doctoral student at Queen Mary.

The SPS captures generic and discipline-specific developmental activities that doctoral students are involved in, through the allocation of points. Points are given for courses or workshops run by the Doctoral College, Queen Mary Academy, other teams at Queen Mary, schools and institutes, and external organisations. Points are also awarded for participation in other activities, such as conference attendance, teaching and attending seminars. It is your responsibility to ensure that your training record is kept up to date.

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 the Doctoral College , 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 and 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 Doctoral College who will also determine the points allocated.

Points gained are mapped against the four domains of the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF) in order to assist students and supervisors in planning individual personal development with the assistance of the Skills Assessment and Personal Development Plan.

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 Queen Mary 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 doctorate. These points must 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 60
Domain B: Personal effectiveness 20
Domain C: Research governance and organisation 15
Domain D: Engagement, influence and impact 30


All Queen Mary doctoral students who log 210 hours of researcher development activities on the Skills Point System by the time they complete their degree will be awarded the Queen Mary Diploma of Researcher Development (Q-Dip) by the Doctoral College. These points must be spread across all four domains, but there are a minimum number of points required in each domain.

More information

If you are unsure about any aspect of this system or the database, please look under the Help tab on the Skills Points System and at the guide below. You can also watch a demo session of how to use the database on QMplus: log in with your Queen Mary username and password and click on this link to self-enrol. If you still have questions, please contact

How to use the Skills Points System

A step-by-step guide explaining how to log in, how the system works and how to claim different types of activities.   

How to Use the Skill Point System
Back to top