About the UWTSD RDP Programme

Introduction: Skills Training & Researcher Development

To become more effective researchers and to succeed in your future careers you need to develop a range of professional skills (from public engagement, writing and presentation skills to project management and organisational skills). These will not only help in making the most of your studies and in developing your knowledge and intellectual abilities, but also will help you to achieve a wide audience for you research and open up possibilities for collaboration and the generation of research impact. 

As research students, you will be able to take part in the UWTSD Researcher Development Programme (RDP). The RDP will help you to identify your training needs, formulate an appropriate training programme for yourself and keep track of training undertaken. Recent studies suggest that the RDF process improves academic performance and helps students to complete their degrees more rapidly.  The RDP also offers you the potential to enrich your postgraduate experience by helping you to develop knowledge about yourself and how you function, both within an academic context and more generally, and also will help improve your ability to relate your learning and skills to the needs and interests of employers.

This process mirrors the continuing professional development requirements of many UK professional associations and is underpinned by the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF). Continuing professional development is a normal part of professional working life and engaging with this process as a routine part of your postgraduate work will help you to achieve your potential both academically and personally, as well of giving you experience of a professional process which you will encounter throughout your future career.

How many courses should I attend?

Undertaking the RDF programme is not mandatory, but you may be advised to do so by your supervisory team.  The University’s normal recommendation is that PhD students should seek to attain 30 units of training over the course of their studies, which will be split between structured training and informal 'on-the-job' development

Formal training includes activities such as attending a full-day course on the UWTSD Researcher Development Programme (ie. a workshop with sessions before and after lunch, such as the Summer Research Festival) would count for 2 units, and for a half-day session, 1 unit. The same would normally be the case for attending other structured training through the University’s monthly programme of research skills training webinars, RDP Online.  Informal development would include activities such as presenting a conference paper, publishing a journal article, or organising an event. 

All our events will have the tariff indicated, and if you are in any doubt, you should speak to your supervisors or RIES.

  • KESS students - Research students on a Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship have to undertake a Postgraduate Skills Development Award (PSDA).  This is 60 credits for those doing a PhD and 30 credits for those doing a Masters award.  These credits will be attained by attending a residential KESS GradSchool (20 credits), plus engaging in central, departmental and external skills development provision – of which the UWTSD RDP is a part.  The PSDA tariff for each part of the programme will be published shortly. KESS Scholars are not required to attain 30 units of training in addition to the PSDA.  KESS scholars will also undertake their scheme’s own personal development plan (PDP).
  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions students are required to undertake training through the Innovative Training Network, and these will be agreed by the supervisor through the Training Needs Plan.    Marie Curie Scholars are not required to attain 30 units of training through the UWTSD Researcher Development Programme in addition to this plan, although they are free to do so if they wish.


A. Structured Training

Full-time PhD students are recommended to plan your structured training so that you work towards:

  • 10 units of structured training in year 1
  • 10 units of structured training over years 2 and 3

UWTSD subscribes to the Vitae online RDF Planner and we encourage you to use this with your supervisor to identify your training needs each year, and to plan your training plan on the basis of this.    In this way you can undertake these training or developmental activities at a time that is appropriate to your circumstances. So if you gain more units in their first year, for instance, the amount you need to do in your second and third years is reduced.

You should try and undertake a good breadth of different training courses within these 20 units, aiming to attend sessions from most of the Domains outlined in the RDF. Structured training can include the following:

  • Courses from the UWTSD RDF program
  • Courses run by individual UWTSD Schools
  • Other UWTSD courses: e.g. those run by Library and Learning Services
  • Vitae programme courses
  • Training events delivered by professional bodies and Research Councils
  • Training courses and workshops run by other Higher Education Institutions
  • Any other appropriate external courses


B. Developmental or ‘On-the-Job’ training

You should aim to attain at least 10 units from developmental or on-the-job training during your PhD, probably during years 2 and 3 (or pro-rata for other modes of study). These might include:

  • Attendance at conference
  • Journal publication or similar
  • Presenting a paper
  • Organising a university event or seminar
  • Demonstrating or teaching
  • Involvement in departmental project or similar
  • Work shadowing / work experience
  • Visiting a careers fair or similar

Your supervisor will help you in planning this, but you should aim to undertake 4–5 different sorts of activities in this section. So for example, teaching activities should not be counted for the full 10 units, though they might warrant this for the actual amount of your time that they take up.

An indicative involvement would be as follows, but please note, this is for illustration only, and you are free to plan your training from the full range of options and activities available, and which are appropriate for your research project and aspirations:

Year 1

Units

Year 2

Units

Year 3

Units

RDP online

1

RDP online

1

RDP online

1

RDP online

1

RDP online

1

RDP online

1

RDP online

1

RDP online

1

RDP online

1

Research Festival Day 1

2

RDP online

1

RDP online

1

Research Festival Day 2

2

Three Minute Thesis Competition

1

Publication

1

Research Festival Day 3

2

Organise research seminar

1

Conference paper

1

Postgraduate conference paper

1

Research Festival 1 Day

2

Teaching

1

 

 

Faculty training

1

Careers fair

1

 

 

Vitae event

1

Editorial work on PGR researcher

1

Sub total

10

 

10

 

10

Grand Total

30

 

 

 

 

 

 Frequently Asked Questions:

Masters students are advised to work towards the equivalent balance of structured and developmental training and breadth of courses in the space of 5 units each year.

For PT students, the same recommended figures apply, although these can be undertaken at the equivalent point in your studies.

The online Researcher Development Framework Planner provides various different reports and the best way of keeping track of the formal training and informal development that you have undertaken is to use the Completed Actions with Evidence report. This report details all of your completed actions and your evidence supporting each action by descriptor and phase. It includes the dates the actions were created, the target for completion and actual completion.

Full details of how to access and use the online Researcher Development Framework Planner are available here

RDP Online. A highly interactive series of webinars.  Each will address the attitudes, knowledge, behaviours and competencies required to be successful researchers.  These are mapped to the four RDF domains of:

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

Full details of RDP Online are available here.   

Each webinar is worth 1 RDP Unit.

 

Vitae - Professional development planning for researchers online course (PDP ROC).  A series of 6 online modules designed to introduce you to effective Personal Development Planning. Full details of RDP Online are available here.  

Each module is worth 1 RDP Unit.           

The University hosts a regular programme of events which will also contribute to your RDP Units. These include the

  • Postgraduate Engagement Fair.  
  • Interdisciplinary Research Conference
  • Research Festival
  • Three Minute Thesis competition
  • School / Faculty events

Details of each, including news and updates, can be found on the Events pages 

The possibilities here are really down to you and your supervisors to agree, and this will depend on the nature of your research.  Common activities however may include:
 
  • Attendance at conference
  • Journal publication or similar
  • Presenting a paper
  • Organising a university event or seminar
  • Demonstrating or teaching
  • Involvement in departmental project or similar
  • Work shadowing/work experience/information interviewing in a relevant career setting
  • Visiting a careers fair or similar
  • Acting as a student represenatative

The Postgarduate Team in RIES (Research, Innovation and Enterprise Services) will be pleased to discuss your plans.

Formal training

This includes activities such as attending a full-day course on the UWTSD Researcher Development Programme, for example:

  • Postgraduate engagement fair
  • Postgraduate conference
  • Summer research festival 
  • Faculty seminar
  • RDP online webinar 
  • Research workshop
  • External research event 
  • External course

Each half day (or part of) will count as 1 RDP Unit.  For example:

  • A workshop with sessions before and after lunch, such as the Summer Research Festival would count for 2 units, and for a half-day session, 1 unit
  • A single seminar (for example a faculty event) would be worth 1 Unit
  • All RDP Online webinars are worth 1 Unit

 

Informal 'on-the-job' development

Informal development would include activities such as:

  • Presenting a conference paper
  • Publishing a journal article
  • Contributing to the organising an research event
  • Acting as a student rep
  • Lecturing activities 
  • Consulting with a company / external body 
  • Attending a careers fair
  • Acting as a research assistant 
  • Entering the 3 Minute Thesis competition 
  • Writing a research funding proposal 
  • Anything else agreed with your supervisor (please let RIES know so we can update this list.....)

Each discrete 'on-the-job' activity is worth 1 RDP Unit regardless of the time taken to complete it.  

This may seem like a lot of work, but we recommend that you plan your 10 informal RDP development activities over the second and third years of a full-time PhD (and pro-rata for other modes of study).  The aim of this is to encourage you to engage in the sort of professional activities that will enhance your experience and make you an outstanding researcher, with excellent prospects once you have completed your studies.