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Professional Development for Postgraduate Researchers 

Postgraduate study is demanding. You need a clear understanding of your discipline and the contribution you intend to make. Whatever your chosen field you will require research skills, but you will also need to develop a wider range of personal transferable skills. 

At Durham, we recognise the importance of continuing professional development for early-career researchers. The Durham Centre for Academic Development provides an extensive range of opportunities for postgraduate researchers to develop their knowledge and skills, including the Durham Researcher Development Programme, and the Durham University Excellence in Learning and Teaching Award (DELTA). 

We also offer grants towards conferences and events. 

Researcher Development Programme 

The programme is open to all full- and part-time students registered for higher degrees by thesis. We provide training that is relevant for the professional development of all postgraduates, irrespective of your particular area of study, and which is intended to complement the training offered by departments, which is normally discipline-specific. The skills you will acquire are intended to help your research at Durham and also to enhance your life skills and employability. 

We will complement your discipline-specific training by offering workshops and courses covering: 

  • Research skills and techniques 
  • The research environment 
  • Research management 
  • Personal effectiveness 
  • Communication skills 
  • Networking and teamworking 
  • Career management.  
The result [of DELTA] was a marked improvement in my understanding of the best way to deal with problems encountered in tutorials, a positive attitude towards the use of different techniques in teaching and a grounding of my approach within currently accepted best practice based on research into teaching.

James Edwards
Mathematical Sciences

Development Needs Analysis (DNA) 

The Development Needs Analysis (DNA) form is accessed via the Postgraduate Training And Development space in Duo (Durham University Online) and is completed online using the PebblePad portfolio system. Just as everyone’s research is unique, so are their skills development needs. Development Needs Analysis will help you identify your needs and plan your training and development activities. Under the guidance of your supervisors, you are required to undertake a development needs analysis in the first month of your research. To help you begin this process, it is recommended that all beginning postgraduate researchers attend your Faculty Induction Session which will be held in October and January of each year. If you have any questions or would like further guidance on completing your Development Needs Analysis, please contact the Researcher Development Team. 

Focus on Research Management 

The Researcher Development Team offer a series of training workshops and support for researchers in managing their research. This can include Time Management, Project Management, Data and Information Management, even relationship management with your supervisor. 


The Durham University Excellence in Learning and Teaching Award (DELTA) provides an opportunity to develop and enhance your practice in learning and teaching. The programme is open to all postgraduate research students, post-docs and part-time teaching staff who have taught in Durham for a minimum of 30 hours in the previous two years. Successful completion of the programme leads to the University award and also to Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, the UK professional body for teaching and learning in higher education.