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Why professional development is important

“I am very happy to say that I didn’t get just a PhD” Jon Chouler, Integrated PhD Sustainable Chemical Technologies

Professional development is the learning or development of skills or knowledge to enhance your current work practice and future career. UK Research Councils and other funders expect doctoral students to demonstrate a commitment to professional development, particularly in the area of transferable skills.

In order to do your research, communicate it effectively and complete your doctorate on time, you will require a wide range of skills and knowledge. The development of a broad range of professional skills will also greatly benefit you as you develop your subsequent career as skills developed during your doctorate are highly valued by employers across a wide range of sectors.

By assessing, reviewing and recording your skills from day one, right the way through your doctorate, you’ll be able to easily identify your strengths, as well as areas for improvement.

You'll expand your expertise and develop an impressive set of transferable skills. You’ll build a better profile and be better placed to communicate your research to others. You'll stay up to date, and have a CV that sets you apart.

Doctoral training develops strong transferable skills in problem solving, research and analysis, as well as the ability to communicate complex information. These attributes were all frequently mentioned by employer interviewees as strengths of doctoral graduates.

Research Council UK

...Very few PhD students do themselves justice in the job market, often under-selling themselves to prospective employers because they fail to appreciate the value of the special skills they have honed during their research.

Times Higher Education

Being clear about the transferable skills you gain from your PhD will help you to identify career options suited to your skills, strengths and interests. It will enable you to demonstrate to employers the value you can bring to their organisation.

A picture of Ioannis Costas Batlle presenting at Science Show Off
‘Professional development delivered me clarity of thought’
Ionannis Costas Batlle PhD student and now Lecturer in Education

Managing your professional development

Read our guide to professional development