Professional Skills Training

The Graduate School at Imperial provides an internationally renowned and award winning Professional Development Programme for Postgraduate Research and Postgraduate Taught students.

Funders of doctoral programmes, including governments, industry and research councils expect that you spend time on your professional development (RCUK, 2013), and developing generic research, personal and professional skills is an important part of your postgraduate training.

Our Professional Development Programme offers you support in your study and research, as well as the opportunity to develop skills relevant to your Master’s or Doctorate and your future career whether inside or outside academia. These skills can improve your ability to undertake focused and successful research, present your work to a variety of audiences, and enhance your overall experience at College. Postgraduate alumni, academics and employers have noted the value of the programme.

We work across College with academic and support departments, alumni, students and externals to enable and enhance joined up opportunities. This has a social benefit, fostering networking and collaboration, as our courses, events and activities provide fora for students to interact with others from different departments and divisions.

The Postgraduate Development Unit (PDU) ensures that the Programme is educationally relevant, developing new initiatives and safeguarding quality and relevance. Our Programme is underpinned by educational research focused on the postgraduate student experience.

The Programme

The Graduate School Professional Skills Development programme is one of staged learning to ensure that you acquire basic research skills at the start of your doctoral studies and continue to develop as a well rounded researcher, gaining the skills and experience to successfully complete your research degree and move on. The programme is an integral part of your research degree and you should use it to support your personal development. The courses vary in length and format, from one-hour lectures, webinars and on-line courses, to three-day interactive residential workshops.

The short programme is divided into “innovation” areas as follows:

  • Writing for Success
  • Perfecting Presentations
  • Ensuring Integrity
  • Information Landscape
  • Maximising Management Skills
  • Understanding Yourself and Others
  • Successful Interactions
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Teaching

The Programme is regularly reviewed and updated and new courses added throughout the year. Courses are free but we do have a cancellation policy.

Why does the Graduate School offer 'professional skills' courses?

Research funders, including: Research Councils, Governments and Industrial sponsors require universities to invest in your professional development. This requirement stems from the 2002 Report of Sir Gareth Roberts’ Review SET for Success which discussed the changing nature of doctoral programmes and recommended skills training for doctoral students. The report found that doctoral graduates were often too narrowly focussed on their area of research and had difficulty adjusting to work (which involves a broader range of skills) whether inside or outside of academia. (On a national basis only 3.5% of domestic science doctoral graduates go on to become permanent academic research staff (Royal Society report (2011).

Following the 2002 report the RCUK Joint Skills Statement recommended  that skills including “Personal Effectiveness, Communication Skills, Networking and Teamworking, Career Management” should be covered (as well as “Research Skills and Techniques, Research Environment and Research Management” available via departmental provision). 

The Joint Skills Statement has now been replaced by the more elaborate Researcher Development Framework (RDF)