Accessibility statement

9. Development of research and other skills


In line with The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and UK Research and Innovation’s Statement of Expectations for Doctoral Training, PGRs are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the training made available to them to support their research, to enhance their employability and to assist their career progress after completion of their degree. 


Much of the training that PGRs receive is informal (eg instruction on techniques or the use of equipment and other resources) and comes from their supervisor(s), TAP, or wider research group. Formal training is provided by departments, and by BRIC. BRIC offers a comprehensive suite of personal and professional skills training. Training is also provided by external partners, for example within collaborative Doctoral Training Centres and nationally (for example


PGRs are responsible for keeping an accurate and comprehensive record of the training (whether provided centrally, departmental or externally) and other enrichment activities that they have undertaken (eg presentations made, conferences attended, teaching, demonstrating, or internships undertaken, etc.). The SkillsForge system provides a means for recording training and other activities alongside records of professional development engagement.

Funder-training requirements


Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that PGRs are aware of any training or development requirements imposed by a research council (or other sponsor/funding body) and for ensuring that opportunities are available to satisfy any such requirements. PGRs are responsible for ensuring that these requirements are met. 

University-training requirements


All new PGRs are required to complete the online tutorial on Research Integrity (see section 11). PGRs are expected to complete the ‘Being an Effective Researcher’ (BERT) and ‘Information Security Awareness’ online tutorials within six months of the start of their programme. Departments are responsible for ensuring that their PGRs have completed these tutorials. PGRs are encouraged to undertake training in the production of accessible documents so that they can ensure their e-theses are accessible. PGRs are required to undertake Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) training prior to teaching or demonstrating (see below). PGRs may also be required by their departmental Graduate School Board to undertake subject-specific training (see below).

Professional development planning


PGRs are entitled and expected to spend a minimum of 10 days (pro rata for part-time PGRs) per year (can be averaged across years) engaged in activities and training to support their professional and career development. Supervisors must respect this time and discuss and review the activities undertaken during formal supervisory meetings.


PGRs are expected to complete, in consultation with their supervisor and with guidance from BRIC, a Professional Development Plan (PDP). A PDP is a record of the skills developed throughout a PGR’s programme and its purpose is to prompt reflection on, and discussion about, the PGR’s personal, professional and career development. The PDP process is as follows: 

(a) initial analysis - by six months for full-time PhD/EngD/MPhil PGRs and by three months for full-time MA/MSc (by research) PGRs). PGRs should use the relevant BRIC resources to: (i) take stock of their existing skills, strengths and opportunities, (ii) consider future professional development opportunities, (iii) identify appropriate professional development goals and record them in a PDP. PGRs should share their initial PDP with their supervisor(s) for comment;
(b) review and updating - PGRs should review and update their PDP on a regular basis. PDPs should be considered during regular supervisory meetings and at TAP meetings (with this discussion recorded as part of the TAP form). PDPs should also be considered during the progression process (MPhil, PhD and EngD PGRs only).


PGRs are encouraged to take advantage of the careers advice and guidance available to them. PGRs can use their York email address to access the extensive Vitae Careers Resources.

Departmental training requirements, including taught modules


The Graduate School Board is responsible for deciding whether PGRs on a particular PGR programme should be subject to any formal training requirements (for example auditing or passing particular courses or credit-bearing modules, and/or completing a certain number of hours/days of training per annum), taking into the account, where applicable, the expectations of the relevant research council (or other sponsor/funding body). The introduction of, or significant changes to, formal training requirements should be considered a major modification to a programme and submitted to PPPC for approval (normally by Chair’s action).


The Graduate School Board should ensure that formal departmental training requirements are: (i) necessary (directly relevant to the PGR programme), (ii) reasonable (achievable within the time-frame available without negative impact on a PGR’s research, see below), and (iii) equitable (for example, within the department or inter-institutional Doctoral Training Centre or equivalent).


PPPC would not normally expect a three-year or four-year PhD programme (not including iPhDs or other programmes with an enhanced training component where this has been explicitly approved by PPPC eg a DTP/CDT programme ) to include significantly more than a total of 600 hours of additional activities (ie activities not primarily directed towards research or thesis preparation) in order to ensure that PGRs have sufficient time to spend on their research and thesis preparation to submit within the four-year deadline (or part-time equivalent). For credit-bearing modules, departments are reminded that 10 credits is equivalent to a notional 100 hours of PGR work. 


Departmental training requirements must be explained to the PGRs at departmental induction and specified in the department’s PGR handbook. PGRs must be told how they may obtain an exemption from departmental training requirements (including those relating to credit-bearing modules) through the recognition of prior learning (eg if a PhD PGR has already completed a relevant MRes programme they might be eligible to gain an exemption from certain compulsory methodology courses/modules). Where PGRs are required to pass, for progression or for award, non-credit-bearing courses and/or credit-bearing modules, it must be clear what reassessment opportunities, if any, are available.

Taught modules


PGRs may be required to take credit-bearing modules - normally at Masters or Doctoral level - within a PGR programme. Masters level modules may be taken from a taught postgraduate programme. Any credit-bearing modules created specifically for a PGR programme and not part of an existing taught programme require departmental approval and may require PPPC approval. All credit-bearing modules must be on the module catalogue. 


Where PGRs are required to undertake a credit-bearing module they should be registered for the module in the University student records system and will be eligible for an academic transcript. The level of attainment required should be that normally expected of the module (ie for Masters level modules the pass mark should be 50%). Where a module is shared with other students, the assessment tasks should be the same for all. It should be clear whether credit-bearing modules can be compensated or re-assessed and these rules must be approved by PPPC and specified in the department’s PGR handbook. 


All credit-bearing modules must be overseen by a taught external examiner in line with the University's standard procedures. Where PGRs undertake credit-bearing modules that form part of a taught programme, the external examiner for that programme should be asked to take responsibility for overseeing the marks awarded to PGRs registered on that module. Where PGRs undertake credit-bearing modules that do not form part of a taught programme, the department must request the appointment of a new taught external examiner for the module(s) in question (or the addition of responsibilities to an existing external examiner for a related taught programme if applicable) from the SCA.  

Failure to meet departmental training requirements


Failure to meet departmental training requirements (including those relating to credit-bearing modules) can be used to inform progression decisions (for example, if as a consequence of failure to meet departmental training requirements, a PGR does not meet the relevant University progression criteria). Failure to meet departmental training requirements should not, on its own, be grounds for a PGR to be discontinued from their programme or to fail a formal progression point unless this option is explicitly approved for a particular PGR programme by PPPC. 

Role of PGRs in teaching and demonstrating


Departments are encouraged to offer PGRs opportunities to engage in teaching (including demonstrating), where available. Departments must ensure that their practice with regard to GTAs is compliant with the University Policy Graduate Teaching Assistants, which is reviewed and updated annually by UTC, and which includes the circumstances in which PGRs can become GTAs, training and support for GTAs, selection of GTAs, and quality assurance and enhancement for GTAs.


Departments are responsible for ensuring that GTAs meet the minimum requirements outlined in the University Policy on Graduate Teaching Assistants before undertaking any teaching or demonstrating, namely having participated in the Introduction to Learning and Teaching course and having undergone appropriate departmental training. GTAs and those who are intending to pursue an academic career are encouraged to take advantage of the central training on offer, including the accredited ‘York Learning and Teaching Award’ programme. 

Policy sections

1. Introduction

2. The criteria for the award of PGR degrees

3. The research environment

4. Selection, admission and induction of PGRs

5. Supervision

6. Responsibilities of PGRs and supervisors

7. Periods of enrolment, changes to PGRs' status and personal circumstances (including illness), working hours and holidays

8. Progress and review arrangements

9. Development of research and other skills

10. Evaluation of PGR programmes

11. Research integrity and ethics

12. Assessment

13. Dissemination of research results, intellectual property rights and responsibilities

14. PGR complaints and appeals

15. Research away from York (excluding PGRs on distance learning PGR programmes)

16. Arrangements for non-York PGRs