Training and development requirement
UEA has adopted a credit-based system for training and development and requires PhD students to complete a minimum of “30 credits” contributing to your personal and professional development (PPD). For MPhil students the requirement is a minimum of 20 credits and 10 credits for MSc by Research students. Personal and professional development can come from a wide variety of sources including:
- Training offered by Faculty Personal and Professional Development (PPD) programmes
- Other training courses at UEA or the wider Norwich Research Park
- Training courses in the UK or overseas
- Specified activities in which you participate within your school
- Learning by experience
All PPD training courses offered through the Faculty PPD programmes carry a credit rating. Courses of up to half a day are generally given a 0.5 credit rating; between half and one day, 1 credit; two days, 2 credits.
The same credit rating is normally applied to other training courses at UEA or the wider Norwich Research Park.
For students who are members of Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPS), training will also be offered by your DTP, some of which may be mandatory. You will be told by your DTP about credit ratings for this training. This training forms part of the UEA training and development requirement and credits will be added to your record by those administering your DTP.
For training courses offered outside the Faculty PPD programmes, credit is typically not assigned in direct association with the length of the course. This is because we want you to develop a broad range of skills and knowledge. In our view, attending two x 15 day advanced statistics courses to complete the requirement for training and development does not make a fully rounded researcher and would not fulfil the training requirements of the UK Research Councils. As an example, attending an undergraduate or master’s module is assigned 2.5 credits.
Because we want you to develop a broad range of skills and knowledge, we do not, typically, credit training and development which takes place within the research environment as a direct part of your research. Thus, for example, we do not give PPD credit for training given within the research environment to use most types of instrumentation, technical techniques, software etc. Please bear this in mind when applying for training to be added to your training record.
The PGR Service has a system designed to record your PPD training: the Students Information System (SITS). You and your supervisors can view your training record by logging on to the internal eVision site: https://evision.uea.ac.uk.
The PGR Service aims to record accurately the training taken by all students but we recommend that you monitor your training record regularly to check that it has been updated with any training that you have done. Please contact the PGR Service at firstname.lastname@example.org for any queries about your training record.
Faculty PPD training
An attendance register will be taken at courses offered through the Faculty PPD training programmes. It is important that you sign the register on the day because this is used by the PGR Service to update your personal and professional development record. If you did not sign, and the session leader is unsure if you attended, you may be asked to write a reflective report on the training.
It can take several days (even weeks) for session registers to be returned to the PGR Service and for them to update training records; possibly longer during very busy periods. Hence we ask you to wait for at least one month between a training session and contacting the PGR Service if your training record has not been updated.
Please ignore the ‘confirmed’ and ‘unconfirmed’ that you may see on your training record. This arises from the system used to record training and is not an indication that we think you have/or have not completed particular training.
Training courses not forming part of Faculty PPD training programmes
If you attend training offered at UEA, the wider Norwich Research Park or elsewhere and which does not form part of a Faculty PPD training programme, you will need to let the PGR Service know in order for this training to be added to your training record. This can be done through submitting a ‘confirmation only’ claim form.
If you attend a 1-to-1 guidance session with the PGR advisers in CareerCentral, they will advise the PGR Service and this will be added to your training record. The same applies to 1-to-1 guidance session with Finbarr Carter in the Student Enterprise Office. If you attend other training offered by Careers and Enterprise and which does not carry a SCI or CCET training code, you will need to inform the PGR Service in order for this training to be added to your record.
For the following types of training, you need to use a Confirmation Only claim form to let the PGR Service know that you wish the training to be added to your record:
- Advanced skills training courses, Summer Schools and similar courses which develop skills and knowledge closely related to your research.
- Media training and public communication of science courses run by NERC, BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC i.e. the UK Research Councils or similar bodies.
- Ship Board Safety and Survival Training.
- UEA USS course on Safe use of radioactive substances.
- Fire safety training (we do not give PPD credit for the online fire safety training programme).
- Training courses similar to those offered through the Faculty PPD programmes attended elsewhere.
- Online courses.
- YES competitions (BBSRC or NERC or other UK research council).
- Learning a foreign language.
- Participating in undergraduate or masters’ modules.
- Training on instrumentation (highly sophisticated instrumentation only e.g. MS, SEM, advanced NMR (does not include using NMR for characterising synthesised compounds and similar; advanced confocal microscopy).The key point we take into account is whether it is possible to gain employment on the basis of being an expert in the use of the particular instrumental technique. Hence it excludes PCR, HPLC, GC and similar.
- Home Office licence for handling animals.
The above list is not exhaustive but should give an indication of the types of training course which can be considered as part of your professional development. If in doubt, contact the PGR Skills Training Co-ordinator (email@example.com).
Check the online catalogue for details of how to have this recorded on your PPD record. Note that there are specifications relating to claiming PPD credit for some of these activities. As noted previously, we limit the amount of credit given for training which we consider relates very closely to a student’s specific research topic. This is the case for advanced skills training courses. However, if a course included a direct element of training that contributed to broader skills development, you can submit a reflective report (see below) giving details of the training. Examples would be if you made a presentation during the course, took part in activities specifically designed within the course to develop your team working skills, had special training sessions on publishing, developing CVs etc.
Learning by experience activities
During your studies you will become involved with activities that enable you to put into practise many of the skills discussed in PPD training sessions and that contribute to your personal and professional development. This is often referred to as ‘experiential learning' i.e. learning by doing. Such activities are considered as part of your personal and professional development and are recognised in terms of training credit.
It is not possible to list all potential activities that come under this heading but the more obvious ones are
- Giving a talk at a School or Departmental Seminar Series or internal conference*
- Attending Research Group, Departmental or School Seminar Series*
- Participating in School Research Days or Colloquia*
- Participating in research group meetings* (these meetings must involve other members of your research group, not just be between you and your supervisors)
- Attending external conferences*
- Presenting at an external conference* (poster or oral presentations)
- Training fieldwork assistants
- Participating in research cruises or fieldwork
- Working at another university or equivalent
- Publishing a paper or book chapter*
- Reviewing research articles for journals
- Participating in workshops
- Participating in ‘admission' days within your school where you may be involved in demonstrating your research to potential undergraduates
- Supporting student learning and teaching: e.g. demonstrating in undergraduate or master’s practicals and workshops; marking coursework assignments; lecturing; leading seminars, practicals etc.
- Supervising project students
- Organising meetings and conferences
- Taking your research into schools to enthuse the next generation of scientists
- Working with entrepreneurs to turn research ideas into commercial products
- Participating in public communication of science activities
The above list is not exhaustive and there are other activities associated with your research which may be eligible.
We limit how many times you can claim credit for participating in some activities, including those listed above. This is because we take the view that maximum learning takes place the first time you participate in some activities and that learning diminishes as the activity is repeated. Check the online PPD catalogue for further details.
Activities outside the research environment may also contribute to your personal and professional development. Examples include:
- Taking a leading role in a sporting activity e.g. president, secretary, financial officer, coach, organising national events, membership or chair of a committee.
- Taking a leading role in a society, charity or other voluntary organisation e.g. being on a local or national committee, organising local or national fundraising campaigns, coaching the less advantaged.
- Tutoring or teaching outside UEA.
- Senior Tutor in UEA Hall of Residence.
- Major role in village hall committee or town or local council.
- Mentoring the less abled through a gardening scheme
- Completing training to obtain football coaching badges and coaching youth team;
- Giving a talk to home town audience, including the local mayor
- Governor at local school.
If you are taking part in an activity which you think may be eligible but are not certain, contact the PGR Skills Training Co-ordinator.
Credit for activities marked * in the above lists can be claimed by completing a confirmation only form to confirm your participation in the activity, along with your supervisor's signature.
For other activities, we ask you to consider what you have learned from the experience by writing a "reflective report" that should be signed by a member of your supervisory team. This reflection on learning derives from Kolb's learning cycle, a model widely used in management education with the view that maximum benefit from experiential learning is gained by reflecting on the experience to derive ‘lessons learned'. Reflection on learning can also be useful for your CV and future job applications as it can help you articulate the knowledge, skills and attributes that you have gained. To aid this, it can be useful to link your development to the descriptors in the Research Development Framework. You may also find it useful to attend the PPD session on ‘Experiential learning and reflective practice' (SCI 6RB1Y) to give you a greater understanding of the benefits of reflective practice. In the reflective report, please provide sufficient details of the activity, your role and the skills that you have developed as a result, with emphasis on generic and transferable skills development. Be sure to mention any training that you had for the role and interactions with others, particularly in terms of legislative/regulatory authorities, national or international bodies and/or where you have had to negotiate to obtain desired outcomes.
The Reflective Report form can be accessed here. Example reflective reports and ‘top tips’ for writing reflective reports and be found at:
- Reflective Reports - 'Top Tips'
- Example 1 - A Good Reflective Report
- Example 2 - A Good Reflective Report
- Example 3 - A Poor Reflective Report
To request training credit for experiential learning activities, please submit completed forms detailing your participation to the PGR Service (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Reflective Reports are considered by the Science Co-ordinator of PGR Skills Training, in conjunction with the Associate Dean for Postgraduate Research in SCI. You will be notified by the PGR Service as to whether or not training credit has been awarded and how many credits will be added to your training record.
If you are uncertain about whether or not an activity is eligible for PPD training credit please contact the Science Co-ordinator of PGR Skills Training, Dr Sue Jickells (email@example.com).
Exemptions and concessions
It may be possible to gain a limited amount of exemptions or concessions if you can meet the specific criteria outlined below. In seeking an exemption or concession, you must be able to demonstrate that you have accredited prior learning, such as workplace training that covers the relevant learning. You should be able to demonstrate that exemption form the full expectation for training and development is warranted and beneficial to you. You will also need to consult with your supervisory team.
Exemption generally applies where there is a requirement to complete mandatory training and where a student considers that they have completed equivalent training prior to starting their research degree.
Students who start their research degree and who have considerable prior experience gained through employment may request a concession in terms of having to complete the 30 credit training and development requirement.
In order to gain exemption or concession from training courses:
- Postgraduate students must be able to demonstrate how their previous training relates to the areas outlined in the Researcher Development Statement.
- Relevant training that can be put forward as contributing to personal and professional development can include training undertaken as part of employment (current or previous), or as a member of a professional bodies, but cannot be part of the matriculation requirements of the PhD.
- Exemptions cannot be granted purely on the basis of postgraduate students holding an undergraduate or master’s degree, or similar, because we cannot guarantee that prior training was at research degree level.
- Introductory IT courses such as Word, Excel, Access etc. will not be considered for exemption.
- In general, exemptions are only considered if the training/experience was at a postgraduate or equivalent level and obtained recently.
Please note that you will not be exempted completely from the requirement to participate in training and development. Exemption is limited to 40% of the required training.
An exemption or concession can be applied for by completing the exemption form.
The Science Co-ordinator of PGR Skills Training, Dr Sue Jickells (firstname.lastname@example.org) will be happy to provide advice on submitting a case for exemption or concession.