Early career researcher workshops

To meet the development and training needs of early career researchers and research staff we offer a bespoke programme.

Being an early career researcher at Surrey: The unofficial guide

We will endeavor to meet all new research staff when they arrive at Surrey for a short chat about how we can best support you.

During this meeting you will receive a copy of "Being an Early Career Researcher at Surrey. The Unofficial Guide."  If you are already at Surrey and would like to meet with a member of the RDP team then please request a one-to-one appointment.

Please see below for RDP events and other selected events provided by other teams across the university. For more details and to register for any of these events, please email rdp@surrey.ac.uk. View a full list of the learning and development opportunities available to all staff here.

Schedule of events and training





03-Jul-20 09:30 - 17:30   Summer Writing Retreat Day One
04-Jul-20 09:30 - 17:30  Summer Writing Retreat Day Two
07-Jul-20  09:30 - 16:30  Supervisor Training (Day 1)
08-Jul-20 11:00 - 12:30 Data Management Plans
08-Jul-20 10:00 - 12:30 Introduction to Fellowship Writing
09-Jul-20 09:30 - 16:00  Supervisor Training (Day 2)
09-Jul-20 14:00 - 17:00 Virtual MINI Writing Retreat
10-Jul-20 11:00 - 12:00 Introduction to Vitae and Professional Development Planning
13-Jul-20 10:00 - 12:30 The Focus Zone – Virtual Time Management Session
20-Jul-20 10:00 - 12:30 The Focus Zone – Virtual Time Management Session
20-Jul-20 10:00 - 13:00 Research Funding: The Basics
23-Jul-20 10:00 - 13:00 Virtual MINI Writing Retreat
27-Jul-20 10:00 - 12:30 The Focus Zone – Virtual Time Management Session
28-Jul-20 10:00 - 12:30 Research Funding: The Basics
30-Jul-20 11:00 - 12:00 Plan It Do It
30-Jul-20 14:00 - 15:00 Summer Virtual Careers Drop In https://bit.ly/3huBpzE


03-Aug-20 10:00 - 12:30 The Focus Zone – Virtual Time Management Session
03-Aug-20 13:00 - 16:00 Internal Examiner Training.
06-Aug-20 11:00 - 12:00 Summer Virtual Careers Drop In https://bit.ly/3huBpzE
07-Aug-20 09:00 - 16:00 Virtual Writing Retreat
13-Aug-20 14:00 - 15:00 Summer Virtual Careers Drop In https://bit.ly/3huBpzE
17-Aug-20 10:00 - 11:00 Introduction to Vitae and Professional Development Planning
18-Aug-20 14:00 - 15:00 Summer Virtual Careers Drop In https://bit.ly/3huBpzE
21-Aug-20 10:00 - 13:00 Virtual MINI Writing Retreat
24-Aug-20 10:00 - 12:30 The Focus Zone – Virtual Time Management Session
25-Aug-20 14:00 - 15.30 Securing your right to study, work and live in the UK as an EU/EEA or Swiss National
27-Aug-20 14:00 - 15:00 Summer Virtual Careers Drop In https://bit.ly/3huBpzE


01-Sept-20 11:00 - 12:00 Summer Virtual Careers Drop In​​​​​​​ https://bit.ly/3huBpzE
03-Sept-20 10:00 - 13:00 Virtual MINI Writing Retreat
07-Sept-20 10:00 - 12:30 The Focus Zone – Virtual Time Management Session
10-Sept-20 10:00 - 13:00 Internal Examiner Training.
14-Sept-20 10:00 - 12:30 The Focus Zone – Virtual Time Management Session
15-Sept-20 10:00 - 13:00 Virtual MINI Writing Retreat
15-Sept-20 13:00 - 15:00 Introduction to Fellowship Writing
21-Sept-20 10:00 - 12:30 The Focus Zone – Virtual Time Management Session
22-Sept-20 14:00 - 17:00 Introduction to Vitae and Professional Development Planning
28-Sept-20 10:00 - 12:30 The Focus Zone – Virtual Time Management Session
30-Sept-20 10:00 - 13:00 Virtual MINI Writing Retreat


05-Oct-20 10:00 - 12:30 The Focus Zone – Virtual Time Management Session
12-Oct-20 10:00 - 12:30 The Focus Zone – Virtual Time Management Session
19-Oct-20 10:00 - 12:30 The Focus Zone – Virtual Time Management Session
28-Oct-20 13:00 - 16:00 Internal Examiner Training.


23-Nov-20 10:00 - 13:00 Internal Examiner Training.


14-Dec-20 13:00 - 15:30 Supervisor Training 1. A Positive Start.
16-Dec-20 10:00 - 12:30 Supervisor Training 2. Developing Evolving Research Relationships.
15-Dec-20 10:00 - 13:00 Internal Examiner Training.




06-Jan-21 13:00-15:30 Supervisor Training 3. Inspiring through Feedback and Support.
08-Jan-21 10:00-12:30 Supervisor Training 4. Supervising through the Final Stages and Beyond.


04-Feb-21 10:00 - 13:00 Internal Examiner Training.


26-Mar-21 10:00 - 13:00 Internal Examiner Training.


15-Apr-21 10:00-12:30 Supervisor Training 1. A Positive Start.
16-Apr-21 12:30-15:00 Supervisor Training 2. Developing Evolving Research Relationships.
19-Apr-21 10:00-12:30 Supervisor Training 3. Inspiring through Feedback and Support.
20-Apr-21 12:30-15:00 Supervisor Training 4. Supervising through the Final Stages and Beyond.
29-Apr-21 10:00 - 13:00 Internal Examiner Training.


19-May-21 13:00 - 16:00 Internal Examiner Training.


22-Jun-21 10:00 - 13:00 Internal Examiner Training.
24-Jun-21 09:30 - 16:00 Supervisor Training 1 and 2. (in-person)
29-Jun-21 09:30 - 16:00 Supervisor Training 3 and 4. (in-person)

Workshop Descriptions

Career Development

This workshop is for any Early Career Researcher who has recently made the move from research student to research staff member (e.g. postdoc, fellow, officer, etc.). You no longer have the pressure of preparing a thesis and a looming viva (!) but you may still feel like a student and are wondering what you should be aiming for now.  

If you are asking yourself questions such as:

  • What is expected from a postdoc / fellow / research officer / early career researcher?
  • What is different from being a research student?  
  • How can I become a valued member of staff?  
  • What do successful ECRs do?  
  • What does my P.I. / line-manager expect from me?
  • I am on a short fixed-term contract; how can I make the most of my time? 

Then please come along to this workshop.

Explore opportunities beyond academia, possibilities, resources and support for bridging the gap. Includes:

  • Discussing individual career ambitions and factors influencing career decisions
  • Identifying a range of career opportunities from research in academia and the private sector to the wide range of employment opportunities beyond
  • Evaluating strategies to research the options, uncover opportunities and build a network
  • Identify next steps towards an effective career plan

An introduction to different theories of career planning followed by a practical planning session in which ECRs, either individually or in groups, identify short- and long-term goals and make a step by step plan using a range of techniques. Concludes with individuals making a commitment to themselves and their plans.

Strategies for successful networking in different contexts such as career development, exploration, and job search, for example. Techniques for success, such as networking in person and managing social media, and overcoming nerves.

An interactive workshop covering the practicalities of effective interview preparation, presentation, performance and review, including:

  • Answering challenging interview questions, including competency, technical, and strength-based questions
  • Preparing an elevator pitch
  • Evaluating different assessment techniques including AI and video interviews
  • Reviewing employer expectations

Review of a range of job search techniques, examining factors which contribute to successful applications, including:

  • An evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of different job search strategies, including working with recruiters, and application techniques
  • Making appropriate career choices
  • Accessing careers and employability support to develop transferable skills
  • Networking for career success

In recent years, there has been an increased national strategic drive to encourage researchers to evaluate and take control of their skills training and professional development. 

Researchers need to be able to articulate and promote their research skills, whether they are competing for academic jobs or demonstrating the transferable value of their PhD studies to an industry employer.

This short workshop will introduce researchers to Vitae and its wealth of free resources that are designed to support researchers with their ongoing professional development.

Researchers will take a closer look at the Researcher Development Framework (RDF) and learn how to use it in order to conduct their own research training needs and skills analysis.

  • You will leave the workshop with an understanding of how to access nationally recommended professional development tools and resources.
  • You will be able to use the Vitae RDF to evaluate your own training needs and identify your strengths and weaknesses as a researcher.
  • If you are a PhD student, this workshop will help you prepare content for annual reviews and confirmation reports.

Communication and Dissemination

There is a great deal made about star ratings of academic outputs.  Pressure is put on early career researchers to produce three or four star outputs to enhance their career prospects.  But what does it mean to write a four-star paper?  What gives it that star quality and how do you know if your paper will be ‘good enough’? Within this workshop we will demystify star ratings and discuss common qualities of papers and of the journals they are likely to appear in which make them more highly rated. 

By the end of this workshop you will:

  • Understand what 4 star journals are looking for
  • Explore how to attract the broadest possible readership
  • Learn simple techniques to help you start to write in a 4 star way.
  • Think about opportunities to make the system work for you

Everyone knows that conferences are important for your CV and for your career progression, but are you really getting the most out of your conference experiences?  In this workshop, we will explore how to best promote your research and yourself in the context of an academic conference.  To do so we will look at a variety of common aspects of conferences, including delivering presentations, attending presentations, networking events and conference dinners and even interacting with the various publishers and companies selling their wares at the conference.  There are a wide range of opportunities and this workshop will help you become aware of these and plan to ensure you truly get the most out of your next conference experience.

In this workshop you will:

  • Learn how to use conference presentation to best advertise your research.
  • Create networking goals and strategies to enhance your chances of meeting and impressing key people in your field.
  • Think outside the box about how an academic conference can enable you to learn about a wide variety of career options and help you on the first steps to a career either within or outside of academia.

We all know it is often difficult to find the time to devote to writing. The Doctoral College offers virtual writing retreats, which are aimed at researchers who would like to benefit from a supported environment to assist in the progression of a piece of writing. Support, mentoring and motivation will be available from the academic writing teaching fellow and the Researcher Development Programme team. This is an excellent opportunity to progress with journal articles, funding bids, reports, or book chapters, within a structured and motivating schedule.

What is a Virtual Writing Retreat?

Our idea is that researchers can participate from any work space, either on campus or not; so, distance researchers can take part from their home office for example.  It will involve setting a plan, plenty of time for writing, checking in with your mentor at set time points via email, phone or video conferencing to update them on your progress.

Please note:

  • This is an intensive single-day writing retreat, during which you will have large blocks of time for writing
  • We particularly encourage participation by distance and part-time researchers.  Preference will be given to these groups of researchers
  • Participants will be contacted by their writing mentor prior to the retreat to discuss their aims for the retreat

All writing benefits from editing, but understanding the different levels of editing will help you plan and complete edits more efficiently. This workshop concentrates on copy-editing as a specific skill for researchers – one that will be of great value for the writing of theses and other publications. 

You will learn about tools and tips for effective editing, gain insights into the processes within academic publishing, and get opportunities to gain hands-on copy-editing practice.

During this workshop participants will:

  • Learn about different types of editing and their functions;
  • Practice copy-editing and be introduced to helpful tools and techniques;
  • Learn about copy-editing by academic publishers and opportunities for gaining experience.

This introductory course is open to postgraduate research students and early-career research staff who wish to develop their skills in delivering presentations. For more experienced speakers, the Advanced Presentation Skills workshop may be more suitable.

Most researchers benefit from giving presentations about their research by gaining feedback, sharing their findings, and raising their profile in the research community. Therefore, learning how to present your research effectively is an important skill to develop. This introductory workshop will help you learn how to create and deliver an effective presentation.

This workshop has a different format to many within the Researcher Development Programme schedule. Upon registration you will be sent a booklet of information to look at in your own time before the session. The time you spend in the workshop will be used for discussion, critiquing videos of presentations, and consolidating your ideas.

Presenting is a crucial skill for researchers, yet it is often something that even experienced scholars struggle with. This interactive workshop is designed for people who already have some experience of presenting and the basic principles involved, but would like to develop their skills in this area to a higher level.

This workshop provides the opportunity for practical experience of presenting within a supportive environment. During the workshop, you will be given time to design and deliver a short (5-10 minutes) presentation to a small audience comprised of your fellow researchers.

If you have a specific presentation that you are currently working on (e.g. for a forthcoming conference), then you can use the session to practice for it (bring your memory stick if you would like to use your own slides).

Alternatively, if you are looking to gain some general practice, the facilitators will help you to develop a presentation on the day based on your own research. The presentation may address a basic topic related to your research (e.g. ‘The inspiration for my research’)

During the workshop participants will: 

  • Present to a peer group
  • Exchange feedback with their peers
  • Gain an understanding of their style and how to improve it further
  • Be given the option to have their presentation video recorded, which many presenters find to be a very useful exercise.

Research Funding

Fellowships aimed at supporting Early Career Researchers (ECRs) are a fantastic opportunity to progress one’s academic career.  They provide funding for a researcher's own independent research, enabling them to establish their own individual research area. Therefore, fellowships are an attractive opportunity for ECRs wishing to pursue an academic career.  However, fellowship applications are time consuming and the competitions are highly competitive. 

Within this workshop we will explore requirements of various fellowships, enabling you to make informed choices about investing in fellowship writing now, or building your personal/research profile to improve your future chances.  Furthermore, we will discuss the basics of fellowship writing to help you gain the skill and knowledge to ensure your application has the best chance of success.

Within this workshop you will:

  • Develop an understanding about the difference between applying for Fellowship funding and standard grant funding.
  • Identify different types of fellowships for which you may choose to apply.
  • Began a professional development plan to ensure you are able to meet the ‘person spec’ requirements of a fellowship.
  • Start to define and articulate your specific unique research niche.
  • Learn how to adjust your writing approach and style to successfully demonstrate how you meet the criteria for a Fellowship.

This workshop will be helpful to ECRs and PGRs wishing to understand what research funding involves, particularly those who may be intending to apply for their first research grant.

This workshop briefly introduces researchers to the research funding landscape and focuses on the grant-writing process. 

Researchers will learn to adopt best practices and effective strategies when applying for funding grants and putting in a research bid.

By the end of the the session you will have:

  • Learnt how to avoid some of the common pitfalls associated with research applications
  • Understood how to tailor your application to meet funder requirements
  • Developed an awareness of what a good research funding application looks like

Note: Although a variety of funders may be introduced as examples, this workshop is not designed to advise attendees on where to apply for funding.

Research Leadership and Management

This is a compulsory workshop for all those new to doctoral examining in the UK. Examining at doctoral level is different to any other form of assessment.  This workshop looks at the rules and regulations for doctoral examination of both Confirmation and final Viva at the University of Surrey. We will share experiences and the basis for academic judgement within the context of these assessments.  Within the workshop, we will also discuss the role of the internal examiner as chair of the viva.  Through the use of real life case studies we will identify various techniques and approaches examiners can use to not only ensure the process is conducted correctly, but enable and empower doctoral researchers to perform to the best of their ability.

In this workshop you will:

  • Learn the rules and regulations of doctoral assessment at the University of Surrey.
  • Share best practice examples and a variety of approaches to assessing at Confirmation and final viva stage.
  • Use creative problem solving to establish ways to overcome potential problems that may occur in a viva situation.

By the end of the session you will:

  • Understand how to build a data management plan or DMP
  • What funders expect from a DMP and why DMPs matter to funders
  • Become familiar with the DMPOnline tool

For more information and registration details, please see here.

By the end of the session you will:

  • Identify what research data management, open research, and open data means for you
  • Learn how to best fulfil policy expectations around data sharing and preservation
  • Pick up some best practices for file management, documentation, storage, security of data, sharing, and preserving data at Surrey.

For more information and registration details, please see here.

One-to-one coaching sessions are available to investigate what you can do to “manage your manager” and discuss strategies for building an effective working relationship with your manager.  

Building a professional working relationship with your PI or direct line manager is important in creating yourself a happy and productive working environment.  Sometimes there are challenges in maintaining this relationship that can get overlooked or swept to one side in our busy schedules.  These one-to-one coaching sessions will investigate what you can do to “manage your manager” and discuss strategies for building an effective working relationship with your manager.  

Topics for discussion can include:

  • The roles and expectations of researchers and their PIs / managers
  • Ways to ensure that a good working relationship is maintained between you and your manager
  • Ideas for dealing with common issues

Public Engagement and Impact

Can you see the funny side of your research?

Bright Club takes a group of researchers and turns them into stand-up comedians for one night only.

Interested? Then read on. Each researcher does an 8 minute set seeing the funny side of their research (and wider academia and science) in a local pub with a supportive audience of about 70. Its great fun, good for those communication skills, confidence and your public profile development and allows an audience to easily access your research.

This workshop is a training session to equip you for this challenge, though there is no obligation to perform if you attend. You'll be guided through some techniques for shaping and presenting your ideas in an informal and engaging way. We recommend this for anyone who'd like to improve their presentation skills and confidence. It makes a great extension to the Doctoral College 'Basic' and 'Advanced' Presentation Skills workshops.

23 Things: Digital Tools for your Professional and Personal Development

Launching 3 March 2020 - Registration now open

23 Things international is a unique collaboration between universities at opposite poles, offering participants fantastic opportunities to build their network, develop skills with research tools, and establish their professional profile. The Universities of Otago, Victoria Wellington and Surrey invite you to explore some amazing connections. 

Our aim is for this course to suit researchers at different stages of their careers, including doctoral researchers, early career researchers and supervising academics. Whether you’re looking for project management tools, careers coaching, or a refresher in new apps and websites, there will be something for you. With the right support and community discussion, this should be valuable for everyone from beginner to expert.

The course consists of 23 ‘Things’, each of which is a useful tool or technique that you may not have encountered before, or may want to develop further. We release a blog post each week with two new Things (plus a couple of break weeks), so you can work through them to a simple regular timetable, or at your own pace. Most of the Things invite you to complete a short task to trial or reflect on the tools. By the end of the course we hope you will have your own professional academic website and profile, as well as hands-on experience with the tools discussed.

To register your place, please complete this short form to help us pair you with other researchers: registration form.

Learn more on the 23 Things website.

Contact us

Find us

Map of the University of Surrey
Researcher Development Programme
10 LB 05
University of Surrey