University Graduate School development opportunities

Postgraduate researchers need to develop a host of knowledge, skills and behaviours throughout their time at the University in order to be successful in their research and in their chosen future careers.

The University Graduate School is dedicated to providing a framework in which students can develop the skills required to become effective researchers. 

Dr Mark Rowan, PhD in Computer Science  "I took part in training on writing skills and team building and am now working in a collaborative team to meet goals and am writing papers. I enjoyed the freedom to follow my own research path in my PhD"

Development Needs Analysis

Development Needs Analysis, often referred to as DNA, is a requirement for all postgraduate researchers at the University of Birmingham. DNA involves the postgraduate researcher having a conversation with their supervisor about their development needs over the coming year, including subject-specific skills, but also broader skills like critical thinking, communication or enterprise. This conversation is then recorded on the DNA form, providing a structure for researcher development. 

Your Development Needs Analysis discussion is framed by the Researcher Development Framework developed by Vitae and endorsed by the UK Research Councils. 

Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Research Methods and Skills

Or PGCARMS for short! This is a collection of advanced research methods and transferable skills modules covering topics from consultancy skills, to narrative research, to public engagement; all covered as short taught courses, online courses and placements. These extra modules are also credit bearing, cumulating in a Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) qualification. 

As part of the University's Economic and Social Research Council Doctoral Training Centre, PGCARMS was developed by the Graduate School and the College of Social Sciences to give postgraduate researchers advanced training in research and transferable skills. A limited number of places are available to other doctoral research students from the Colleges of Social Sciences, Life and Environmental Sciences, and Arts and Law. It is also now available for BBSRC-funded postgraduate research students who are part of the Midlands Intergrative Biosciences Training Partnership (MIBTP). 

More information can be found on the Graduate School's PGCARMS pages.

PGR development programme

There is a wide range of formal training available to PGRs, including both face-to-face workshops and online courses.  Although much of this is delivered by departments around the University, the University Graduate School works closely with those departments to ensure that PGRs are aware of the wealth of opportunities available. 

In particular, there is a programme of workshops specifically targeted at PGRs which includes reading strategies, presentation skills, writing skills and increasing your productivity.  Online courses include ethics, career planning and getting published. 

There are a wide range of additional training opportunities available to PGRs at the University of Birmingham such as the Postgraduate Enterprise Summer School, Endnote training by Library Services and Learning and Teaching in Higher Education by the Centre for Learning and Academic Development and Learning Spaces.

Opportunities to develop transferrable skills

The University Graduate School is committed to supporting and creating a vibrant postgraduate community where each postgraduate researcher can access valuable opportunities to develop transferrable skills for future careers and gain the most from their time at the University of Birmingham. As part of this commitment, we offer a range of development opportunities for PGRs to practise their skills in a supportive environment such as the Research Poster Conference, the Three Minute Thesis competition, the Images of Research competition, activities at Westmere and peer-led initiatives such as the Westmere Scholarships. For more information about opportunities to develop transferable skills, please visit the University Graduate School Events page or the UGS intranet website for current students.

Dr Wilber Sabiiti, PhD in Bioscience  "I took advantage of all the training opportunities on offer, for example in using software. The University is a great place to pick up lots of skills and the advantage of taking these courses while you are a PGR is that it’s all available for free!"