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Researcher Development and Skills Training

This section outlines the University’s expectations for skills assessment, training, and development of research degree students.

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Section contents:


182. Key principles of Cardiff’s approach to researcher development and skills training are:

.1 that the approach is student-centred and needs-based;

.2 that supporting students in their development is embedded in our supervision and monitoring processes;

.3 that training is delivered in the broadest context appropriate in order to promote cross-disciplinary understanding and student networking.

183. At an institutional level, the University Graduate College provides research students with generic research skills, professional and transferable skills and career development opportunities. The University Graduate College Programme organises skills training and activities around the four domains set out in the ‘Researcher Development Framework’ (developed by Vitae): knowledge and intellectual abilities; personal effectiveness; research governance and organisation; and engagement, influence and impact. The Programme is intended to complement the training delivered in Schools.

184. Schools must ensure that their research students have access to the training appropriate to their individual research objectives – to enable them to undertake their research effectively, and to complete their programmes successfully and within time. To this end, Schools are responsible for delivering or procuring the research skills, methods and techniques that are specific to their discipline and local research context, and for integrating students in the research environment of the School, department and/or research group.  Delivery of research training includes the essential role of the supervisor.

185. Schools should make the training and development requirements they have of their students clear at the outset of the research degree programme as part of their School-based induction and in the information issued to students (handbook or equivalent), and also make these requirements clear to supervisors.

186. Where a School identifies a particular skill as essential for all of its students, there should be a clear means of exemption for students who can demonstrate they have already acquired that skill.

187. The University expects students to engage with training and development opportunities throughout their research programmes. As a general rule, full-time research students are expected to undertake approximately ten days of professional training and developmental activity in each year of study.

188. Some programmes (e.g. professional doctorates and programmes delivered through Doctoral Training Partnerships, or equivalent), and some individual PhD projects (e.g. industry-sponsored), may require students to undertake additional or bespoke development activities.

189. Students are required to undertake the training agreed with their supervisor, and to comply with School skills training policies: participation in specified workshops and other activities, and/or engagement with training at a specified level, for example, through the accumulation of training ‘points’ on an annual basis.

190. Schools are expected to review the effectiveness of their training and development provision as part of the Annual Review and Enhancement process.

191. The University Graduate College is required to evaluate and report on its Programme on an annual basis, taking collective and individual student feedback into account as well as changes to research training strategies. 


192. It is the responsibility of the School, through the supervision process, to ensure that the development needs of students are identified. Students are required to work with their supervisor to identify their individual training needs, and they are encouraged to recognise the value of professional skills in enabling them to become effective researchers and to enhance their employability.

193. In early supervision meetings and in conjunction with defining the Research Plan, the student and supervisor should conduct a skills audit, known as the Development Needs Analysis, in order to agree and document the training in which the student will participate. The Research Plan and the Development Needs Analysis both form part of the record that demonstrates completion of the Initial Reporting, an element of the Research Student Progress Monitoring Procedure.

194. Supervisors are expected to consider how each student’s training can be appropriately staged over the course of the programme, how it can be embedded in their broader research training and their engagement with research networks and contexts, and they should advise their students accordingly.

195. The Development Needs Analysis should be repeated when the student and supervisor discuss their Progress Reports and agree a revised Research Plan. At these points the student should provide for review a record of skills training and development activities undertaken over the period.

196. Each Development Needs Analysis should be conducted with due regard to the changing demands of the research project, to the student’s prior experiences, skills gaps and developing professional needs, and to relevant external requirements, e.g. those of a particular Research Council, and should lead to the identification of appropriate skills development opportunities for the individual student.

197. Further details about training and development can be found on the University Graduate College web pages: