Faculty training expectations and personal development planning Faculty training expectations and personal development planning

Training Pathways & Learning Outcomes

The Faculty of Social Sciences (SSF) at UEA, in line with Research Councils UK, expects each full-time PGR student to complete the equivalent of 10 days training and development activities per year, with part time students completing 5 days per year on a pro rata basis. These are minimum requirements. We are equally keen, however, to ensure our PGR students complete training which satisfies their individual needs and leaves them 'well trained' and highly employable compared to others in the sector.

For this reason, we have introduced a system of training pathways which are to be followed by PGR students registering after October 2017. A training pathway provides a description of the range of developmental activities that can be undertaken by a research degree candidate to support and enhance their programme of study. The goal of the pathway is to develop a range of research, discipline-specific, and transferable/professional skills and attributes that will support the development of the research project, the timely completion of the thesis, and equip the researcher for a variety of future careers. All the SSF training pathway documents can be found here.

The training pathways are themselves defined by a set of learning outcomes. These have been designed in response to the Economic and Social Research Council's 'Postgraduate Training and Development Guidelines 2015', which lay out expectations for PGR training across the social sciences. They include learning outcomes relative to research methods, researcher development and transferable skills, as well as subject-specific knowledge and expertise. The expectation is that all our PGR students will have demonstrated - prior to graduation and through the provision of reliable evidence - that they have achieved/satisfied all of these stipulated outcomes.

The Personal and Professional Development Planning (PDP) system is the means through which this evidence will be presented. The official PDP form and instructions for its completion can be found here. The idea is for you to consider your own profile of skills and attributes relative to the learning outcomes and to identify your future training needs on that basis. In order to help you with this process, SSF has created a 'Evidencing your Learning Outcomes' document which should be used to enter and collate your evidence, relative to each learning outcome, so you can start (and continue) to identify personal areas of strength and weakness. Instructions are included within the document itself - please read them carefully - and keep your personal document up-to-date, so it can be used to facilitate discussion with your supervisors and/or the faculty training coordinator. At least one piece of evidence must be presented relative to each learning outcome before you graduate (although we would expect considerably more in many areas) and you can use your Masters training, formal training sessions completed during your PhD, recent practical/work experience (including teaching, conference attendance, publication, and so on), and completion and submission of your thesis as reliable evidence.  

If you have any questions you would like to ask about the SSF training pathways, learning outcomes, the PPD process, or if you would simply like to discuss your own training needs with a helpful third party, please feel free to contact Dr Simon Watts, the PGR Training Coordinator for SSF (simon.d.watts@uea.ac.uk), who will be happy to help. 

Training Credits

The Faculty of Social Sciences (SSF) at UEA, in line with Research Councils UK, expects each full-time PGR student to complete the equivalent of 10 days training and development activities per year, with part time students completing 5 days per year on a pro rata basis. These are minimum requirements. For PGR students registering before October 2017, each day or training (or equivalent activity) is worth one training credit. It follows, as a condition of your registration, that you will be expected to accumulate a total of 30 training credits over the research degree period (and hence before you submit your thesis).

Credits will be awarded automatically provided you sign the register at UEA PPD and SSF Advanced Training events. You will need to claim credits for all other training events and activities. Attending research seminars in your school, for example, a training session at another university, a UEA Masters course, a research conference, organising a research event, committee membership, and so on, all qualify as training activities, but you will need to claim the approprite number of credits by submitting a Confirmation of Activity Form to the PGR Service.

Obviously, you might also learn and develop such skills through practice, activity or experience, not just through formal training sessions. It is possible, for example, to develop new skills whilst teaching or during publication of a paper. In these cases, you can claim for credits using a Reflective Report Form. This form requires that you write a short report reflecting on the completed event/activity and which benchmarks the skills learned and/or developed against the Researcher Development Framework (RDF) and here are some Instructions for completing a reflective report form.

For some guidance regarding the number of credits to claim in a particular case please see the attached training credit claim document, or for personal advice on the process of submitting training credit claim forms, please contact the PGR Training Coordinator (simon.d.watts@uea.ac.uk).

You are also responsible for developing a personal training plan under the guidance of your supervisory team. Obviously, we are aware that different students bring different skills and experiences to their doctoral studies and so you are likely to have your own particular set of training needs. At your first supervisory meeting, you should discuss your current attributes and skills, as well as your career aspirations, with your supervisors as a means of identifying (and planning to address) any obvious gaps in your skills and knowledge. You should also complete a Researcher Development Plan.

To help you complete your plan, you might like to make use of the ‘Researcher Development Framework' and ‘Researcher Development Statement' issued by the Vitae organisation. These have been adopted by all the UK Research Councils as indicative of their standard requirements for PGR training. The Researcher Development Framework (RDF) highlights the need for training in four domains: (1) Knowledge and intellectual abilities; (2) Personal effectiveness; (3) Research governance and organisation; and (4) Engagement, influence and impact. Each of these domains is further divided into three sub-domains. You can find more information about the RDF and its accompanying statement on the Vitae website.

We recommend that you continue to assess your training needs on a regular basis and as a minimum requirement your ‘Researcher Development Plan' should be reviewed as part of your Annual Progress Review.

If you have any questions you would like to ask about the Faculty training expectations, the training needs analysis process or you would like to discuss your own training needs with a helpful third party, please feel free to contact Dr Simon Watts, the PGR Training Coordinator for SSF (simon.d.watts@uea.ac.uk), who will be happy to help.