Students are encouraged to develop a wide range of skills while undertaking their research project. The Research Councils have written a joint statement on the skills that should be developed while registered for a research programme. Although this statement has been written with Research Council-funded students in mind, the document is relevant to all students.
In order to help students meet these requirements, the Graduate School requires all full-time research students to complete 70 hours of training per year (part-time students should complete a pro-rata rate of training as appropriate). 70 hours equals approximately two weeks' training per year.
It is up to the student and the supervisor to decide on the most appropriate type of training for the student, within the constraints of the SMD Policy on Supervision and the RCUK recommendations.
The training does not all have to come from one source, to this end, students should be using a Personal Development Plan (details below) to record their training and skills development.
The 70 hours can be built up from:
Certificates of Attendance should be obtained if a student wishes to count external activities towards their training. Students attending journal clubs should ensure that attendance is taken for the record. Students may wish to undertake more training in their first two years – as long as the full 210 hours (based on 3 years full-time) is completed by the time of submission the actual amount can vary per year.
Personal Development Planning (PDP) is a structured and supported process that helps individuals to plan their personal, professional and career development. It is a way of reflecting on your existing skills and achievements, and using this as a basis to plan for your development in the future.
At the start of your PhD you will already have many skills. These will be different for everyone, depending on background and experience, so it is impossible for the graduate school to adopt a one-size-fits-all policy for skills training. This is why it is important for each PhD student to think individually (with support from their supervisors) about what skills they already have, and which they would like to develop, so that everyone can make use of training and development opportunities that are relevant to them at a particular stage of their PhD. PDP is a simple way of carrying out this process.
The PDP process starts with reflection on your current skills, and on those which you feel you need to develop in the near future. This may be motivated by upcoming events (for example having to give a presentation, the need to start writing your thesis, needing to prepare for your viva etc), by a wish to develop new skills for a particular career or to make you more employable, or by feeling that you could be more effective at your research if you were a bit better at time-management, motivating yourself etc.
(individual forms can be downloaded below)
This "skills analysis" or "Training Needs Analysis" can be carried out using the skills audit form (below). Ideally you will use this form every six months or so and discuss it with your supervisor.
The other forms are to help you keep a record of your activities.
Records and Documentation is where you keep information about your supervisor, your project, milestones in your degree and supervisory meetings.
The Personal Log is where you can record training activities you've taken part in, along with presentations, publications, teaching experience etc.
The PDP Proforma is where you can record your training plans for the next few months - what skills you're going to work on, why, how, and how you will know when you've been successful.
All these forms can be modified to suit however you wish to use them.
A record of your training and development activities forms an important part of the upgrade procedure, so you should keep an up-to-date record of the training you receive and the activities you take part in.