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Durham University


Professional development

Postgraduate study is demanding. You need a clear understanding of your discipline and the contribution you intend to make. Whatever your chosen field you will require research skills, but you will also need to develop a wider range of personal transferable skills.

We will get you off to a good start at the outset and throughout your studies with our Research Training Programme, which offers around 2,000 places each year, the Durham University Learning and Teaching Award (DULTA), Key Skills Award and grants towards conferences and events.

Research Training Programme

The programme is open to all full- and part-time students registered for higher degrees by thesis. We provide training which is relevant for the professional development of all postgraduates, irrespective of your particular area of study, and which is intended to complement the training offered by departments, which is normally discipline specific. The skills you will acquire are intended to help your research at Durham and also to enhance your life skills and employability.

We will complement your discipline specific training by offering workshops and courses covering:

  • Research skills and techniques
  • The research environment
  • Research management
  • Personal effectiveness
  • Communication skills
  • Networking and teamworking
  • Career management.

Where to begin

Training Needs Analysis

The Training Needs Analysis form is accessed via the Review tab in Duo (Durham University Online: and should be completed online. Just as everyone’s research is unique, so are their skills development needs. Training Needs Analysis will help you identify your needs and plan your training and development activities. Under the guidance of your supervisors, you are required to undertake a training needs analysis in the first month of your research. To help you begin this process, it is recommended that all beginning postgraduate researchers attend your Faculty Induction Session which will be held in October and January of each year. If you have any questions or would like further guidance on completing your Training Needs Analysis, please contact the Researcher Development Team.

Focus on Research Management

The Researcher Development Team offer a series of training workshops and support for researchers in managing their research. This can include Time Management, Project Management, Data and Information Management, even relationship management with your supervisor.

For the latest information on the Durham Researcher Development Programme, visit our blog.


The Durham University Learning and Teaching Award provides an opportunity to develop and enhance your practice in learning and teaching. The programme is open to all postgraduate research students, post-docs and part-time teaching staff who have taught in Durham for a minimum of 30 hours in the previous two years. Successful completion of the programme leads to the University award and also to Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, the UK professional body for teaching and learning in higher education.

"I attended the Durham University Learning and Teaching Award (DULTA) course which opened my eyes to a research-informed approach to teaching. DULTA helped me to understand why some of my techniques had a positive impact in the classroom, putting my approach into the context of the Professional Standards Framework of the Higher Education Academy (HEA). It also encouraged me to reflect on my teaching and to understand how I could improve. Discussion with other teachers in science gave me some useful ideas to take into my classroom and engagement with pedagogical literature helped me to take an informed view towards my teaching.

The result was a marked improvement in my understanding of the best way to deal with problems encountered in tutorials, a positive attitude towards the use of different techniques in teaching and a grounding of my approach within currently accepted best practice based on research into teaching. After achieving an Associate Fellowship with the HEA I attended Durham's DREAM course and became a Full Fellow. I am now in the process of completing a third module of study towards a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice and remain committed to continual professional development throughout my career."

James Edwards, Mathematical Sciences.

The Key Skills Award for Postgraduate Researchers

The Durham Key Skills Award provides a means by which you can gain certification of your skills development. Based on national skills standards, participants collect evidence of their skills development, and submit a reflective portfolio for assessment.

Evidence can be drawn from academic and non-academic contexts…think creatively about the evidence you can include to show how you have developed communication, IT, analytical, teamworking, research and problem-solving skills. The Researcher Development Team will run a series of workshops and discussion sessions to support you through this process.

Conference and Event Grants

Applications are invited from individual and teams of doctoral researchers at Durham University responsible for organising short-term, well-defined conferences and events of a subject-specific, interdisciplinary or generic nature. Applicants should be able to demonstrate a high level of PGR involved, i.e. we normally expect at least a third of the presentations to be given by postgraduate researchers. Applicants should submit the application form below in which they will be asked to describe their proposed project, explain its relevance for the potential audience, justify the expenditure requested and provide a time-line for the completion of the project. The maximum level of award is £500 per conference or event. The next round of applications will be at the beginning of December 2015. Please contact us under if you are planning to hold a conference before that deadline.

Please return completed forms, by email or post, to:

Carolyn McAlhone
Centre for Academic, Researcher and Organisation Development (CAROD)
The Palatine Centre
Stockton Road

In addition to funding, Centre for Academic, Researcher and Organisation Development can provide:

  • project management support
  • equipment on loan, including poster boards, flip charts and delegate name badges

Applications will be considered by the Conference and Event Grants Panel and the results published within three weeks of the submission date. Doctoral researchers who wish to submit an application should discuss their ideas and submission with their supervisor(s) and other key stakeholders prior to making an application. CAROD can provide feedback on pre-application project ideas and outlines.