Postgraduate researcher workshops

The Researcher Development Programme offers workshops to help bring all threads of your research together into your thesis.

You will need to register your place on a workshop through Surrey Self-Service, under the tab 'Researcher Development Details.' You can find out how to book a workshop through this guide

Workshop registration

What's on offer

Virtual workshop delivery 

All workshops continue to be held as virtual events via Zoom. You can still register for workshops and download course materials from Surrey Self-Service as normal. A Zoom link will be emailed to you on the morning of the workshop, once we know the definite attendee list. You do not need to download Zoom for this to work, just follow the link in the email. If you are new to using Zoom, TEL have provided a ‘Zoom student guide’ on SurreyLearn.

Virtual support

We have produced a booklet summarising virtual key support and resources available to postgraduate researchers, which you can view on SurreyLearn.

Throughout this time, we would like to reassure you that the Researcher Development team is here to support you. We monitor the RDP inbox throughout normal working hours and the team is available to have one-to-ones by phone or Zoom for those wanting bespoke skill development/planning, academic writing and careers coaching support, or even if you just need to talk something through with someone. 

We will also be looking at new and innovative ways to extend and enhance this virtual support. If you have any suggestions or ideas of how we can better support our researchers virtually, send the team an email:

Virtual researcher café

Our virtual researcher café takes place over Zoom, and operates on a drop-in basis – no need to book a place. Every Wednesday between 11am and midday, members of the Researcher Development Programme team will be available to chat with whoever wants to join in. 

Compulsory workshops

There are three compulsory workshops all postgraduate researchers (PGRs) attend during their doctorate. These typically run at least every six weeks throughout the calendar year.

For full workshop details and to register please log into Surrey Self-Service. You can find out about how to book workshops using this guide.



06-09-2114:00 - 16:00The Confirmation Process
10-09-2110:00 - 12:00Viva Examination Workshop


01-10-2110:00 - 12:00Welcome to your Doctorate
04-10-2114:00 - 16:00Confirmation Process
12-10-2115:00 - 17:00Welcome to your Doctorate
18-10-2111:00 - 13:00The Viva examination
29-10-2115:00 - 17:00Welcome to your Doctorate


04-11-2110:00 - 12:00Confirmation Process
15-11-2110:00 - 12:00Welcome to your Doctorate
23-11-2114:00 - 16:00The Viva examination
30-11-2110:00 - 12:00Confirmation Process


06-12-2114:00 - 16:00Welcome to your Doctorate


10-01-2210:00 - 12:00The Viva examination
18-01-2210:00 - 12:00Confirmation Process
25-01-2210:00 - 12:00Welcome to your Doctorate

Compulsory workshop descriptions

The PhD process is unlike any other form of education. Independent research requires that the PhD student learns to structure and plan their own project, often from the very beginning. This can make incoming students feel unsure about what to expect, and sometimes quite lost. In this workshop, we discuss the experience of becoming a PhD researcher and give advice on how to make the most out of the first year of your PhD. Uniquely, this workshop features advice to incoming PhD researchers from current PhD students who are now in their second or third year.

Therefore, incoming students can truly learn from the experiences and words of advice from those that have recently gone through this process. Also, this workshop introduces a web-based action planner, designed especially so that University of Surrey PhD researchers have a tool to help them assess their skills and receive suggestions for further skill development.

During this workshop participants will:

  • Understand their expectations and how they compare to the realities of the first year PhD experience
  • Learn how to make their first year more productive, through advice from more senior PhD students (and some thoughts from the RDP team, as well)
  • Recognise the importance of taking control of your PhD and your personal, professional development
  • Be introduced to a web based action planner that will help PhD researchers to plan their future skill development

The PhD Confirmation Process has under-gone University wide changes, which has lead to a change of name and also added an increased emphasis on the importance of this milestone in the PhD process. This process was previously called 'transfer' or 'PhD upgrade', when researchers were initially enrolled as MPhil students and then upgraded or transferred to PhD students. 

New PGRs are registered as probationary PhD students and the status of PhD student is 'confirmed' after successful completion of the Confirmation Process which includes a written confirmation report and a viva examination.

As the Confirmation Process is the first formal assessment, often PGRs are quite anxious about this stage in the PhD journey. Many PGRs are unclear about what is expected of them throughout the process and what the possible outcomes are.

During this workshop participants will:

  • Understand what is expected of the postgraduate researcher, the research project and the supervision team at this stage in the PhD process
  • Explore ways in which this process will benefit you and how to maximise these beneficial aspects
  • Discuss technical aspects of the PhD confirmation process, its purpose and its possible outcomes Consider what is expected out of various aspects of the confirmation report (ie the literature review, the research design, etc)
  • Gain insight in to what to expect for the viva itself

The last hurdle, your viva examination, but what will it be like? What will the examiners ask? How can you prepare for it?

This workshop provides delegates with an insight into the process, and helps them understand what to expect within a doctoral degree viva. The workshop aims to demystify the process by addressing common student concerns and uncertainties regarding the viva. The workshop explores the viva's purpose and issues relating to the conduct of the viva (typical processes and procedures, who is there and what they do, and so on). We will discuss the type and nature of questions which are most-likely to be posed by examiners during viva examinations, and give practical ideas for viva preparation as a result.

During the workshop participants will:

  • Receive answers to questions or concerns you may have about any aspect of the viva
  • Share research which provides insight into the types of questions you are likely to encounter during your viva
  • Understand the process and requirements of a doctoral degree viva
  • Gain an understanding of possible viva outcomes and the procedures that follow
  • Increase confidence in your ability to prepare for and perform well during your viva.

Essential skills development and workshops

View the schedule below of upcoming RDP events and training. Use the subsequent menus to learn more about the training on offer for PGRs.

For full workshop details and to register please log into Surrey Self-Service. You can find out about how to book workshops using this guide.



03-Sept-2110:00 - 13:00MINI Writing Retreat - Virtual
07-Sept-2110.00 - 12.00Driving your Doctorate
08-Sept-2111:00 - 13:00Writing a Confirmation Report
13-Sept-2113:00 - 15:00Engaging with your Literature: Critical Reading and Thinking
13-Sept-2110.00 - 17.00Writing Retreat - Virtual
14-Sept-2110:00 - 12:00Demonstration in Laboratories*
14-Sept-2110.00 - 12.00Getting the Most out of your Progress Reviews
16-Sept-2115:00 - 17:00

Critical thinking in Research Integrity. Governance and Ethics

21-Sept-2110:00 - 12:00Engaging with your Literature: Critical Reading and Thinking
21-Sept-2114:00 - 16:00Effective Job Search: agile strategies for uncertain times
27-Sept-2110.00 - 12.00Mentorship Training 
28-Sept-2114:00 - 16:00Demonstration in Laboratories*
28-Sept-2110:00 - 13:00MINI Writing Retreat - Virtual
28-Sept-2114:00-15:30Data Management Plans
29-Sept-2113:00 - 15:00Editing
30-Sept-2115.00 - 16.00Plan It, Do It


04-Oc-2111:00 - 13:00Writing Critically
05-Oc-2113:00 - 14:00Demonstrating in Laboratories for Maths PGRs*
08-Oct-2111:00 - 13:00Getting Started with Thesis Writing
11-Oct-2111:00 - 12:30Research Data Management
11-Oct-2114:00 - 16:00Demonstrating in Laboratories*
12-Oct-2114:00 - 16:00After the Doctorate, what next?
13-Oct-2111:00 - 13:00Writing Coherently
13-Oct-2114:00-16:00Managing your Supervisory Relationship
14-Oct-2110:00 - 17:00Writing Retreat - Virtual
19-Oct-2110.00 - 12.00New to Research? How the Library can help
19-Oct-2111:00 - 13:00Thesis Writing: Literature Review
20-Oct-2111:00 - 13:00Writing Concisely
21-Oct-2115:00-17:00Time and Project Management for PGRs
25-Oct-2113:00-15:00Getting the Most Out of Your Progress Reviews
26-Oct-2111.00 - 12.30Introduction to Mendeley
26-Oct-2111:00 - 13:00Writing a Confirmation Report
26-Oct-2110:00-12:00Demonstrating in Laboratories*
29-Oct-2110:00 - 11:00Plan It, Do It


01-Nov-2110:00 - 17:00Writing Retreat - Virtual
02-Nov-2110:00-12:00Driving your Doctorate
02-Nov-2114:00 - 16:00Preparing for a Postdoc
03-Nov-2110:00 - 11:00Bright Club Training: Presentation Skills Plus
04-Nov-2114:00 - 15:00PGR Work Placements – Opportunities in the UK and Abroad, and Accessing Funding
05-Nov-2110:00-12:00Unconscious Bias Training: Understand, Identify, Act
08-Nov-2110:00 - 17:00Writing Retreat - Virtual
08-Nov-2110:00-12:00Mentorship Training
08-Nov-2111:00-12:30Data Management Plans
08-Nov-2114:00-15:30International Researchers – Staying on after the Doctorate: working, studying and living in the UK
09-Nov-2114:00-16:00Research Funding: The Basics
10-Nov-2114:00-16:00Marketing yourself: CV workshop
16-Nov-2111.00 - 12.30Introduction to Endnote
16-Nov-2111:00 - 13:00Writing Critically
16-Nov-2110:00-12:00Presentation Skills Essentials
16-Nov-2114:00 - 16:00Presentation Skills in Practice
17-Nov-2110:00 - 17:00Writing Retreat - Virtual
18-Nov-2114:00 - 16:00Making the most of your doctorate: career planning and professional development for PGRs
22-Nov-2110:00 - 17:00Writing Retreat - Virtual
23-Nov-2111:00 - 13:00Writing Coherently
24-Nov-2114:00 - 16:00Preparing for Online Interviews
25-Nov-2115:00 - 16:30Research Data Management
29-Nov-2110:00 - 11:00Plan It, Do It
29-Nov-2111:00 - 13:00Writing Concisely
30-Nov-2110:00-12:00Managing your Supervisory Relationship
30-Nov-2110:00 - 17:00Writing Retreat - Virtual


02-Dec-2110.00 - 12.00Demonstrating in Laboratories*
07-Dec-2111.00 - 12.30Introduction to Mendeley
07-Dec-2111:00 - 13:00Getting Started with Thesis Writing
07-Dec-2111:00 - 13:00Editing
07-Dec-2114:00 - 16:00Poster Presentation
08-Dec-2110.00 - 12.00Engaging with your Literature: Critical Reading and Thinking
08-Dec-2115:00 - 16:30Data Management Plans
10-Dec-2110.00 - 12.00Building your Professional Network: An introduction 
13-Dec-2111:00 - 13:00Thesis Writing: Literature Review
14-Dec-2110.00 - 12.00New to Research? How the Library can help
14-Dec-2110:00 - 11:00Plan it, Do it
15-Dec-2110:00 - 13:00MINI Writing Retreat - Virtual


12-Jan-2214:00 - 16:00Managing your Supervisory Relationship
14-Jan-2210:00-12:00Mentorship Training 
17-Jan-2214:00 - 16:00Demonstrating in Laboratories*
18-Jan-2211.00 - 12.30Introduction to Endnote
18-Jan-2211:00 - 13:00Driving your Doctorate
19-Jan-2214:00 - 16:00Research Funding: The Basics
21-Jan-2210:00 - 11:30Data Management Plans
25-Jan-2213:00 - 14:30Research Data Management
26-Jan-2214:00 - 16:00Time and Project Management for PGRs
31-Jan-2211:00 - 12:00Plan It, Do It


01-Feb-2210:00-12:00Demonstrating in Laboratories*
03-Feb-2210:00-12:00Presentation Skills Essentials
03-Feb-2215:00-17:00Presentation Skills in Practice


03-Mar-2213:00 - 14:30Data Management Plans
16-Mar-2211:00 - 12:30Research Data Management


12-Apr-2213:00 - 14:30Data Management Plans


03-May-2214:00 - 15:30Research Data Management
23-May-2211:00 - 12:30Data Management Plans


10-Jun-2210:00 - 11:30Research Data Management


14-Jul-2215:00 - 16:30Research Data Management
20-Jul-2214:00 - 15:30Data Management Plans

*Demonstration workshops are compulsory for PGRs who will be demonstrating.

Essential skills development and workshop descriptions

Academic writing

Critical writing is vital for engaging with the literature in your field, for developing your arguments, and for articulating how and why your research is significant. Therefore, it is important to understand the difference between critical and descriptive writing and how and when to use these writing styles.

The skills covered on this workshop will be applicable for all areas of doctoral writing but may be particularly helpful for participants seeking support with literature reviews, or with transitioning between disciplines or languages.

The workshop will focus on the following:

  • The difference between critique and description
  • Techniques for reading critically
  • Literature reviews
  • Identifying critical writing
  • Developing a critical voice in your writing

This is the first of three core writing workshops designed to develop key skills in academic writing for doctoral researchers. You may also be interested in the other workshops in this series; Writing Coherently and Writing Concisely.

Good academic writing communicates complex ideas with precision and clarity. Writing with coherence is often a challenging and time consuming process. However, it is important that readers can easily read your work in order to understand, and engage with, your research and ideas.

This workshop will focus primarily on structure and on editing. The structure of chapters, paragraphs and sentences is key to your reader’s ability to follow your argument or understand your results. Similarly, the editing process is essential to developing a clear writing style.

The workshop will focus on the following:

  • Developing a successful editing process
  • Writing with different readers in mind
  • Techniques for organising large amounts of information
  • Using paragraphs and sentences to guide your reader

This is the second of three core writing workshops designed to develop key skills in academic writing for doctoral researchers. You may also be interested in the other workshops in this series; Writing Critically and Writing Concisely

When trying to communicate complex ideas, researchers often develop a writing style that is overly complicated. It is common to; restate the same idea in different ways, hold too many clauses in one sentence, use vague or general terms, or move between large ideas too quickly.  These difficulties arise when researchers write to figure out their thoughts and ideas rather than communicate those ideas to their reader. This workshop will develop understanding of the difference between writing as a thinking process and writing as a tool for communication and will introduce participants to techniques for writing with precision.

The workshop will focus on the following:

  • The writing process and the thinking process
  • Sentence and word functions
  • Becoming your own editor
  • The importance of redrafting
  • Writing for your discipline
  • Tools and techniques for writing clearly

This is the third of three core writing workshops designed to develop key skills in academic writing for doctoral researchers. You may also be interested in the other workshops in this series; Writing Critically and Writing Coherently

Much as we would like to get it right first time, editing is an inevitable part of writing. Whether you're working on your thesis, articles or other projects, making editing part of your research and writing process is essential.

Here we will talk about breaking editing down into specific stages: substantive editing, copy-editing and proofing. This can make your attention and your work schedule more effective. As well as tips and techniques for general editing, we'll adapt the methods and checklists used by professional academic copy-editors to the requirements of thesis writing.

Editing is an essential skill, applicable to many different career paths. You can also develop yourself in several areas of the Research Development Framework, including A1, literacy and information management; A2, Critical Thinking and Evaluation; C2, Research planning , and D2, Publication.

Through this workshop you will:

  • Learn about different types of editing and their functions;
  • Practice copy-editing and be introduced to helpful tools and techniques;
  • Discuss best practice and innovative approaches to editing with other researchers

This workshop is part of our writing skills support. You may also find these workshops useful:

  • CORE writing workshops: Writing Critically, Coherently, Concisely
  • Getting started with Thesis Writing
  • Engaging with your Literature
  • Writing for 4-Star Publications
  • Turning your Thesis into a Book

This workshop is designed to support doctoral researchers at an early stage of writing for their theses.

Your thesis is likely to be one of the largest writing projects that you have undertaken thus far in your career. This workshop will provide you with strategies to help break down your thesis into manageable stages of writing. Participants will also become familiar with the expectations for thesis writing compared to other modes of writing. 

The workshop will cover the following:

  • The role of writing in the doctoral process
  • Overcoming writers’ block
  • Strategies for managing a large scale project
  • Different examples of how to start a thesis
  • The difference between thesis chapters and journal articles

This a professional mentor-ship training workshop for all doctoral researchers who are interested in being a mentor or developing transferable mentoring and coaching skills.

The workshop covers some mentoring theory, introducing you to a range of models and techniques as examples of best practice. The session also includes practical elements to help you reflect on, practice and develop your own mentoring techniques. You will learn how to encourage others to see opportunities and take up new challenges, build confidence, and help people to feel motivated and empowered to achieve their goals.

After attending this workshop, you will receive a certificate or digital badge recognising you as an Researcher Development Programme trained mentor, which you can use for your careers and professional development profile.

Attendance at this workshop is essential if you have signed up to volunteer as a mentor for our peer mentoring ‘Transitions’ programme, ECR mentoring or STAR mentoring schemes.

This workshop also aligns with Domain D (Engagement, influence and impact) of the Vitae Researcher Development framework:

  • Effectively supports the learning of others when involved in teaching, mentoring, demonstrating or other research activities.
  • Recognises the importance of mentor-ship and receiving mentoring.
  • Develops skills as a mentor and uses own mentor-ship effectively.
  • Shapes the mentoring strategy of own institution.

Analytical skills

In this short workshop you will discover techniques to use when dealing with the data you are collecting.

This workshop examines the process of data collection and analysis and discusses some of the pitfalls of data analysis, using real-life examples. At the end of the workshop, you may not know what test to do, but you will know the steps you need to take to get there.

During the workshop participants will:

  • Learn the correct process of data collection and analysis
  • Consider some of the pitfalls of data integrity
  • Create a plan for your data collection

This workshop is designed to give guidance on how to manage and get the most out of the research literature in your field.

Every PhD student is responsible for reading and understanding the research literature in their field. This literature based research is vital at every stage of the research cycle, from proposing and designing research projects to interpreting results. However, managing this literature research is often a challenge. The amount of research out there is often overwhelming, conversely, sometimes it seems as though you cannot find a reference with the information you need. Engaging with literature can be extremely time-consuming and in the end your supervisor may still comment that you are not reading ‘critically’ enough.

During the workshop participants will:

  • Gain a better understanding of the breadth and depth of literature based research expected of them
  • Learn how to manage their time in order to stay on top of their literature-based research
  • Gain a better understanding of what critical reading means
  • Learn some specific techniques to help them read more critically

This series, hosted by faculty in FHMS covers a variety of statisical methods in SPSS. Typically in the Spring term, you can attend all or a selection of the following:

  • Statistics Lecture Series - 1 Data Types and Graphical Representation 
  • Statistics Lecture Series - 2 Numerical Summarise, Statistical Inference and Normal Distribution 
  • Statistics Lecture Series - 3 Central Limit Theorem, Confidence Interval and Hypothesis Testing 
  • Statistics Lecture Series - 4 Comparing two or more groups (T-Test /ANOVA/F-Test) 
  • Statistics Lecture Series - 5 Chi-squared test, Correlation and Linear Regression 
  • Statistics Lecture Series - 6 Multiple Linear Regression and Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) 
  • Statistics Lecture Series - 7 General Linear Model, Generalised Linear Model and Logistic Regression 
  • Statistics Lecture Series - 8 Experiments, Observational Studies, Diagnostic Testing, Sample size, Power, Meta-Analysis 

Career and professional development

We run a number of workshops for preparing for your professional life after the doctorate. The careers team within the RDP offer a range of workshops to support you with your professional development and transition to employment after the doctorate, both within and beyond academia. Tailored workshops can be offered on request.

If applying for roles or getting ready to make applications, the more preparation you do for interview, the more likely you are to succeed. This workshop will give an overview of current selection techniques, such as psychometric testing and assessment centres, and provide an opportunity to review presentation skills and strategies to answer interview questions.

Are you considering a career in academia? Relevant to any postgraduate researcher considering or planning to continue in research beyond their doctorate, this workshop explores postdoctoral roles. We examine the skills that applicants are expected (or encouraged) to demonstrate, and what you can do during your doctoral studies to meet these criteria. We also explore the differences between postgraduate and early career researcher roles.

Are you currently seeking work or planning an active job search? Whether a postgraduate or early career researcher this workshop offers the opportunity to discuss strategies in a competitive and currently unpredictable labour market, and how to make effective applications.

  • Analysing the labour market and finding vacancies
  • Evaluating job search strategies, including working with recruiters
  • Bridging the gap - professional development
  • Effective applications - marketing your transferable skills
  • Planning for career success

Aimed at first year PGRs, whatever your background or experience, this is an opportunity to explore how best to leverage opportunities for career development as part of the research journey, whether considering a career in academia or beyond. The workshop offers an overview of a broad range of career options and explores different approaches to professional development and career planning.

Aimed at mid-stage or final year doctoral researchers, this workshop explores options after the doctorate and offers the opportunity to review career plans before entering the next stage in your career. Are you on track to make the most of future opportunities?

  • Researching and evaluating opportunities
  • Key drivers and values – what is important to you?
  • Reviewing achievements and marketing your transferable skills
  • Consolidating professional development
  • Career planning strategies, long and short term

Building and maintaining your network is key to your continuing professional development, whatever field you may work in. In the current circumstances, online networking is increasingly important. This introductory workshop is designed to help you build your confidence when networking both online and face to face. We’ll introduce strategies for successful networking in different contexts such as career development and exploration, job search and raising your profile at conferences.

During the workshop we will:

  • Reflect on experiences and understanding of networking
  • Audit your current network to consider how to build and strengthen your connections
  • Prepare for, and practise, online networking
  • Explore the benefits of social media and online platforms

Develop confidence in their own authentic networking approach and strategies

Preparation is the key to impressing at recruitment interviews and even more so now that interviews are being held online. As with face to face interviews online interviewers want to hear examples that best demonstrate your suitability for the role and organisation and also what to gauge your enthusiasm for the role. Knowing you have done all you can to prepare for an online interview will help you approach the experience with confidence.

By the end of this workshop you will:

  • Understand the different types of online interview you might face
  • Develop strategies on how to prepare for different types of questions using the STAR structure
  • Be able to effectively present yourself, your skills, experience and motivation for the role

This online workshop is interactive and will include exercises during which you can practice asking, answering online interview questions, as well as gaining feedback. You will be expected to have your camera turned on during this workshop, just as you would in an online interview. 

Is your CV up to date?  Could it be strengthened? For those with less experience of CV writing or wanting to explore ways of using their CV more effectively, this workshop examines different styles of CV, academic, narrative, technical/skills based, commercial CVs for example. Share ideas about how to tailor CVs to meet employers’ expectations across different sectors

In the workshop we will focus on what makes a successful CV, including:

  • Comparison of different styles of CV.
  • Targeting the content of a CV to an advertised role
  • Effective CV presentation - layout and language.
  • Application Tracking Systems and CV submission, including cover letters.
  • A chance to review your own CV's checking they are up to date and where they need strengthening.

Tom Pease from International Student Support presents information and takes questions on the Graduate Route, Skilled Worker Visa and Start Up.

Followed by a brief presentation on the UK Job Market, an introduction to opportunities, applications, and planning strategies presented by one of the professional careers consultants from the Doctoral College.

Research and information skills

We provide a number of tools and training for managing your research literature and data.

About to start a research project? Preparing a bid? You should make a data management plan! While many funders now require data management plans, it’s a good idea to create one before every project. We will cover key elements of a data management plan, what funders expect in a DMP, and look at the DMPOnline tool.

By the end of the session you will:

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

This session is in two parts. During the first part, participants will use creative learning techniques to explore the various facets of their topic in depth, and will have the opportunity to share their thoughts with others. During the second part of the session participants will use their deepened understanding of their topic to devise an effective literature search strategy and employ relevant search techniques.

Recommended for: All stages of study

Find out about the options available for managing large amounts of literature or references. Participants will have the opportunity to consider their specific needs and explore various reference management options with the support of a Learning Development Librarian.

Need a place to share your data for a project or a publication? Join us for a brief hands on demonstration of the data repository Surrey is piloting. Learn the ins and outs of the new repository, the various ways to share data, and how your team can contribute to shared project spaces on the repository. Want to try it out the system with some data you currently have? Bring it along!

By the end of the session you will:

  • Know how to access the repository, upload and describe your data, and get a DOI
  • Understand the different levels of sharing on the platform (public, restricted, and confidential)
  • Learn how to create project spaces and connect collaborators to your shared data.

NVivo, developed by QSR, is a CAQDAS package which integrates the handling of textual data with quantitative and multimedia forms of information/data.

The Doctoral College is pleased to offer a two-day workshop, taught by a member of the CAQDAS Networking Project at the Department of Sociology, that provides the opportunity to gain a thorough introduction to the software and practice tasks using one’s own data. The focus is on gaining confidence in the early tasks of setting up projects efficiently, exploring and coding data whilst having an eye on longer term tasks.

This is an NVivo 11 for Windows course.  Participants using the Mac version are welcome to attend but the main part of the course will cover the functions available for the Windows version, which are not all the same for the Mac version.

The first day uses sample data in order to become familiar with tools and functions, following through common tasks as a group and practicing exercises as individuals. Work is structured to provide step-by-step support for commonly used early software tools, with others demonstrated to illustrate longer-term potential.

The second day provides participants with the opportunity to get started using NVivo with their own project data. This may comprise interview/focus-group transcripts, audiovisual data, documentary evidence, etc. Those who have not gathered their primary data yet are encouraged to bring pdfs of journal articles pertinent to their project. The first part of the day focuses on translating the tasks explored on day one into practice. Individuals and teams work independently with the support of the tutor. The remainder of the day focuses on experimenting with more sophisticated interrogation tools. Possibilities and implications are discussed, demonstrated and practiced.

The course will suit those who are complete beginners and those who have looked at the software and tried to use it in a limited extent. However you should have some idea about what your approach to qualitative data analysis will be. The course does not teach you 'how to do' qualitative data analysis per se. The workshop is accompanied by fully step-by-step documentation and is led by an expert user of NVivo who has been working with and training in qualitative software packages for many years. In the two day format there is time to discuss individual needs and particular methodological approaches.

Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis. 

Good research data management practices make projects more efficient and minimize risks to data. Beyond this, funders are increasingly interested in research projects that produce well managed datasets that are ready for re-use, sharing, and long term preservation. This event will cover best practices for file management, documentation, storage, and sharing data.

By the end of the session you will:

  • Understand what research data management is and why it’s important to the increasing requirements to share and preserve data within academia
  • Become familiar with best practices for file management, documentation, storage, and security of data
  • Be briefly introduced to data management plans and the DMPOnline tool.

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

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.

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.

Publishing and presenting

Publishing and presenting are essentials skills for researchers. RDP run a number of workshops to support researcher development in these areas.

This workshop aims to help you communicate effectively and confidently in an academic context.

Presenting your research can be daunting, but is a crucial part of sharing your research and establishing yourself within the field. In this workshop we address best practice for several aspects, including structuring your talk, connecting with your audience, and preparing yourself for questions. We’ll consider how to maximise audience attention, and understanding the expectations of different audiences and disciplines.

The workshop includes some preparatory material that you can download when you register on the event. It includes a set of slides with links to other resources and videos. On the day we will mix time for discussion with practical activities to try out different techniques in a supportive environment.

Presentation skills can boost you in several areas of the Researcher Development Framework, including Personal Effectiveness (self-confidence) (B1), Networking (B3), Engagement and Impact (D3) and Communication (D2).

Through this workshop participants will be able to:

• Visualise the structure, content and tone of a presentation
• Consider different audiences and occasions
• Discover how to best use their own strengths and preferences to good effect
• Prepare for answering tricky questions
• Share experience about what makes for a great (or weak) presentation

You may also like to combine this workshop with:

  • Presentation Skills in Practice
  • Writing and structuring a conference paper
  • Bright Club: stand-up comedy training for academics
  • Visual aids and infographics
  • Networking


This practical workshop is designed for people who have some experience of presenting and understand the basic principles involved, but would like to get more hands-on practice to develop their academic presentation skills at a higher level.

You will have the opportunity to plan, prepare and deliver a 5-10 minute mock presentation within a small, friendly and supportive peer group of fellow researchers.

After delivering your presentation, you will receive constructive feedback that will help identify your strengths and weaknesses, build your confidence, and find new ways of enhancing and improving your presentation style.

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.

Presentation skills can boost you in several areas of the Researcher Development Framework, including Personal Effectiveness (self-confidence) (B1), Networking (B3), Engagement and Impact (D3) and Communication (D2).

Please Note:

To get the full benefit from this session, all participants should arrive with their own materials for a presentation that they want to work on. This can include pre-prepared slides and content, although you will be given time to build and design your workshop in the session.

If you have a specific presentation that you are hoping to deliver (e.g. for a forthcoming conference), then you can bring in the materials for that and use this workshop to practice for it. Alternatively, your practice presentation in this workshop can be based around a topic related to your research (e.g. ‘The inspiration for my research’ or ‘Why my research is important’).

We strongly advise that participants first attend our workshop on ‘Presentation Skills: Essentials’ before attending this interactive workshop, as it will allow them to pick up on best practice that they can try and apply in their own presentations.

Recommended for: All stages of study and research staff.

You may also like to combine this RDP workshop with the following ones:

  • Writing and structuring a conference paper

  • Bright Club: stand-up comedy training for academics

  • Networking

Most doctoral students will be asked to design and present a poster about their research at some point during their research degree. However, what makes an effective poster, and how to present it well are topics that are rarely explicitly discussed.

This workshop will run slightly differently to a usual session. You will be sent a booklet of information to look at in your own time, and the time you spend in the workshop will be used for poster critique and consolidating your ideas. During the session you will explore what makes a successful poster presentation and examine how key components of a poster can be designed to make the poster more effective.

As a result of this workshop participants will:

  • Improve their understanding of what makes an effective poster presentation
  • Understand the importance of deciding on key message(s) and narrowing the scope of a poster
  • Have a clearer idea of good poster design, planning, layout, graphics, illustrations, colours, text and data display
  • Increase confidence in their ability to answer questions and interact with the audience.

Recommended for: All stages of study.

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 eight-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. It's 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.

Did you know that the University requires all PGRs to submit an electronic copy of their thesis, upon completion? And that this copy is openly accessible, as per the requirements of the open research agenda? This of course raises further questions, i.e. what is open research and why does it matter? How do you feel about sharing your thesis, publications and data? Where do you stand on public engagement and citizen science?

In this short workshop you will have the chance to discuss different aspects of open research and work out how to adopt open practices suitable for your research area and as per the requirements of the University.  

This is the first of two workshops designed to develop your understanding of the technicalities and the process of getting your research published.  In this workshop, we examine the technical aspects of writing up your research in a format appropriate for publication. You will learn about the importance of following journal guidelines and house style, and the value of using a clear structure to frame your paper. You will also receive guidance on how to produce clear writing in a register appropriate for the readership.

This is one of a number of workshops offered collaboratively by facilitators from the School of English and Languages and the Researcher Development Programme. These workshops concentrate on the "technical business" of academic writing for research students.

During the workshop participants will:

  • Gain an appreciation of the importance of adapting writing style to respond to Journal Guidelines
  • Understand the importance of identifying grammatical errors and eliminating them from a paper before peer review
  • Gain experience of producing a small piece of writing in response to a simulated journal ‘Call for Papers’.

Getting published is a central part of being a researcher. Peer-reviewed publications allow researchers to communicate their research to the broader research community, and thus, make a contribution to the body of work within their field. Increasingly, emphasis is being placed, not only on getting publications, but getting high impact publications. Therefore, it is important for early stage researchers, not only to understand the publication process, but also to learn how to maximize potential impact of each publication.

Academic peer review is a process of self-regulation of academic literature, by evaluation involving qualified individuals. Typically the peer review is completed prior to the publishing of the article. Peer review aims to maintain standards, improve performance and provide credibility to the output of researchers. Scholarly literature provides dissemination and archiving of knowledge, quality control and credit for authors. Peer review concentrates on giving a form of quality control to the publishing of scholarly literature.

This is one of a number of workshops offered collaboratively by facilitators from the School of English and Languages and the Researcher Development Programme. These workshops concentrate on the "technical business" of academic writing for research students.

During this workshop participants will:

  • Learn how to exploit their publication to its maximum potential
  • Gain a better understanding of the technical aspects of the publication process
  • Talk about being reviewed and a reviewer
  • Have an understanding of the peer review system
  • Be aware of alternatives to anonymous peer review methods.

This workshop will familiarise PGRs and ECRs with the process of, and the various issues involved with, turning their PhD thesis into a published monograph. The workshop will focus on the following:

  1. The differences between a thesis and a monograph
  2. The copyright and editorial issues of publishing material from an open access e-thesis
  3. The process of selecting a publisher and writing a book proposal
  4. The publication process, from submission of the proposal up to actual publication of the  book. 

Though turning a thesis into a monograph frequently happens across all fields, it is more common within the arts, humanities and social sciences. Thus, the workshop is designed primarily for FASS students. That being said, PGRs and ECRs are more than welcome to attend.  

The current climate of competition among academics to have high-impact publications is producing increasingly selective Quartile 1 journals. Q1 editors are looking for manuscripts which are more than well-written; they are looking for papers with ‘star quality’.  For many, star quality remains a rather elusive ingredient in their writing.      

This highly interactive, half-day workshop is designed to explore the question: What aspects of writing help to give a journal manuscript star quality?  The session starts by considering the widely acknowledged mechanisms for producing quality writing, such as coherence, clarity and conciseness.  It then moves on to explore less obvious mechanisms that are used to communicate consistency and authority. This is done by analysing the language used in articles from various high- and low-impact journals. The session is open to all ECRs and Post-docs.

Session objectives

  • To consider the aspects of writing that contribute to the star quality of high-impact journal articles
  • To compare and contrast differences in writing style between high-impact and low-impact journal articles.

By the end of the session, you should

  • Be able to identify writing techniques that make an article readable and authoritative
  • Have experience of analysing extracts from journal articles  to identify particular writing mechanisms used for coherence, clarity and consistency.

Need help with networking? Want to get the most out of conferences? Are you getting bogged down by networking blogs? Then this is the workshop for you.

The workshop will cover:

  • Networking basics
  • Clear communication
  • Adapting your message
  • Face-to-face networking
  • Virtual networking.

This session is based on a flipped classroom model. Participants will be sent materials before the workshop that will cover networking basics and contain suggested tasks, with relevant web links, to further explore the learning.  These materials will be used in the session, which will be highly participatory. You will explore networking skills (e.g. adapting your message, elevator pitches), the network within the room, and discuss all aspects of networking in academia and beyond. 

Project and self-management

All postgraduate researchers have to complete six-monthly progress reviews. This may seem like just another thing that is taking you away from your research; however, these reviews are actually brilliant opportunities to receive feedback and guidance, which can help you to become more productive in your doctorate. In this workshop, you will be given the opportunity to reflect on your past accomplishments, to discuss what areas you feel you need feedback on most and to learn how to use your review to help ensure your doctorate stays on track. You will be able to use the outcomes of the exercises within this workshop when filling in your review forms, saving you time. The workshop will also help prepare you for your review meeting with your supervisor.

In this workshop you will:

  • Become aware of how the review process can benefit you as a postgraduate researcher.
  • Learn how to use good reflective practice to improve your research.
  • Become more aware of your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Develop techniques which will help you to become more pro-active in seeking feedback from you supervisor.
  • Put together an initial development plan to be discussed with your supervisor at your review meeting.

Transferable skills you will be learning in this workshop include: reflective practice, project planning and interpersonal communication.

Among the big changes and challenges that doctoral students encounter is how little of their project is laid out for them. Even if you are part of a larger project, you are expected to be in charge of your own research, workload and writing. Sometimes this can be liberating and wonderful; sometimes it will feel daunting. This workshop covers ways to make the most of your doctorate by taking control, using recognised planning techniques, and making the structure of a doctorate work for you.

In this course you will be able to:

  • Consider how you can take ownership of your doctorate, helping you to feel in control rather than passive
  • Discuss the benefits of an outcome-driven approach
  • Share strategies for planning – for the longer-term, for the next few months, for the unexpected
  • Sketch out your own plans for the coming months.

The student-supervisor relationship is vital for success in all research degree programmes. In many ways, this relationship is different than any other relationship you have encountered in your previous experiences as a student or employee. This is because of the unique nature of a research degree, which is based on independent study and mentoring. However, the exact role of the supervisor is often unclear and sometimes it may feel as though you are not getting the support you need. This can be frustrating for students and supervisors alike, and can lead to a negative doctoral experience.

This workshop features case studies to illustrate different characteristics of students and supervisors, and explore how these can lead to different expectations. We will discuss how, as students, you can be pro-active in the supervision process to ensure you receive the advice and support you need at certain times, but also the creative freedom that is necessary to truly own your project.

During this workshop participants will:

  • Consider various aspects of the student-supervisor relationship and identify potential areas of conflict or misunderstanding
  • Explore ways of dealing with conflict and promoting understanding
  • Discuss how to use their own initiative to ensure that they are getting the type of supervision they require at any given time
  • Receive practical advice on how to get the most out of supervisory meeting and manage a supervisory team.

Helping you start off your week with a sense of achievement and progress.

When we’re working at home, we often miss our familiar routines and the motivating feeling of working alongside peers in the office, lab, or library. Without this structure to our days, it can be hard to decide which tasks we should to focus on. Where should we start to build up some momentum for the week ahead?

The Focus Zone is a structured time management session designed to give you space and motivation to tick off some tasks on your to-do list. No need to chat or turn your camera on – just join the session with a list of specific tasks, and commit to setting aside the time to complete them.

We will be using the ‘Pomodoro’ time management technique. Each session will consist of four ‘Pomodoros’ – 25-minute intervals of work, with five minute breaks between each one. Select an achievable task to complete during each Pomodoro, and at the end of the session you can take a break for lunch knowing you have ticked four things off your to-do list.

Work on whatever you want, whether it’s writing, reading, or admin tasks. It might be…

  • Marking up edits to a draft piece of writing
  • Filling in a form that is due soon
  • Searching for and filing new publications
  • Responding to an email that you have been putting off
  • Tidying up the entries in your reference manager
  • Drafting a conference abstract

After registering you will be sent a Zoom link on the morning of the session. An RDP trainer will structure and facilitate each session, providing time updates during each interval. After the final Pomodoro, you are welcome to stay and chat, ask questions, or reflect on what you’ve been working on.


If you are planning on teaching during your doctorate, or wish to pursue an academic career, you may consider the teaching training on offer through RDP and the Department of Higher Education.

This workshop will examine the role and responsibilities of research students undertaking demonstrating and other teaching-related activities (e.g., supporting tutorial classes) in science, engineering and related subject areas. The session considers the purpose, aims and objectives of practical classes within the curriculum, and perspectives on the "demonstrator" role from students, academic staff and demonstrators themselves. In considering "what makes a good demonstrator" the session offers practical suggestions for PG demonstrators to improve their own understanding and practice.

By the end of this session participants should:

  • Understand their roles and responsibilities in these teaching environments
  • Understand the skills necessary to be effective in their teaching roles
  • Learn practical techniques to help them develop their teaching skills.

Recommended for: All stages of study.

  • Introdution to learning and teaching
  • Assessment and feedback
  • Graduate certificate in learning and teaching.

For a list of DHE workshops and information on how to book, see their webpages

23 Things: Digital tools for your professional and personal development

23 Things international is a unique annual collaboration between universities around the world, offering participants fantastic opportunities to build their network, develop skills with research tools, and establish their professional profile. The Universities of Cambridge, Otago and Florida, Auckland University of Technology, and Avondale University College invite you to explore some amazing connections. The course is also open to members of Techne and SeNSS institutions, and the Africa Research Excellence Fund. 

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.

We also put you into 'pods' with researchers from other institutions who work in a related field - instant global network! 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.

Learn more on the 23 Things website.

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