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Current Postgraduate Students


The Researcher Development Programme (RDP) offers you a wide variety of workshops, courses and events that help you in becoming a professional researcher. In order to provide you with some guidance on what to engage with, the RDP have developed the  Cambridge Researcher Development Framework (CamRDF). It is based on the national RDF and developed for University of Cambridge PhD students. The CamRDF suggests 15 competencies that are valued by both academic and non-academic employers in an increasingly interdisciplinary and international context. Some of those skills are naturally enhanced during the everyday research life, but others will need some help.


    Personal Development Planning is the formal process of reflecting upon your learning, performance and achievements, as well as planning your personal, educational and career development: in short, considering the career path you would like to pursue and the skills and actions you need to achieve it.

    To assist you in this aim, as part of the compulsory elements carried out by all students during their first year, you will complete the School of Physical Sciences Core Skills Training Programme (SPS CSTP), which has been designed as a starting point for your researcher development and aims to:

    • Help you identify your existing skills and skill gaps
    • Give you training in key areas of personal effectiveness and communication
    • Provide a foundation for further skills development in subsequent years
    • Give you recognition of your training upon completion of the CSTP

    The CSTP consists of four core components: Skills Analysis Survey, Time Management Toolkit, Presentation Skills Toolkit and Academic Writing  (consists of two face-to-face sessions to choose from or complete both). In addition, there are several components of choice (delivered by Library, Office of Scholarly Communication, Research Strategy Office etc.). If you complete the four core components of CSTP, alongside the other Departmental compulsory course elements, you will receive the SPS CSTP certificate and also have an opportunity to book an optional one-to-one session with one of the Researcher Developers who can help and advise further.

    Enrolling onto CSTP: all first year PhD students will be automatically enrolled into the SPS CSTP by the end of October. Through Moodle you will receive all the information relating to it and all the emails, reminders etc. will also be sent through Moodle.  If you have any problems with accessing the CSTP, please email Sonja Tomaskovic and Alice Wood, who will be able to sort out any problems you are having.

    In addition, we recommend that you take time with your Academic Mentor in the Department early on in your time here (during the first term in your first year if possible) to discuss your personal development planning and work out how best to go forward, following their input.  Some other potentially useful avenues are:

    • The University Careers Service  offers a wide range of services, including personal consultations with a careers adviser.
    • VITAE is a national organisation championing the personal, professional and career development of doctoral researchers and research staff in higher education institutions and research institutes.
    • Prospects, the UK’s official graduate careers website, has a useful online database of jobs and job sectors (including information on working abroad) and provides information on the kinds of skills required in many different jobs.