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Postgraduate research students (PGRs)

We support emerging researchers in developing efficient and effective approaches to completing their studies as they move into a career which utilises transferable as well as subject specific skills.

Please note that, areas of this programme have been introduced into the Professional Doctorate students’ taught programme and ‘Research Friday’ events so they can be more easily attended by Professional Doctorate researchers.

We have your success in mind

Research degrees are focused on the acquisition of research skills, the production of a thesis and the defence of this thesis in a viva examination. However, the real value of a research degree is in developing academic qualities of the mind and good skills sets in order for researchers to not only become ‘experts’ in their research field but leaders with the transferable skills which enable them to revolutionise and evolve global businesses with positive impact in a modern dynamic world.

The central development programme, therefore, offers support for developing researchers’ capabilities for effectively and efficiently completing their postgraduate research studies; but also offers support for developing transferable ‘life skills’ which are core requirements for any successful career.

Researchers recently said...

"Very informative, at the end of the (induction) course I was left feeling reassured that I can achieve my set goals and that help is available if needed. It has also left me knowing exactly what is expected of me..."

"I’ll now be organised, focused, think originally and be self-confident and motivated towards (my) goals."

"I’ll pay more attention to the credibility of my resources, the method of referencing, time and project management, and developing a robust relationship with my supervisor."

"Thank you for your support throughout (my PhD). Your training programmes were invaluable in providing me with the insight needed to prepare and present myself in a way that I can be proud of (in the viva examination)."

Our programme is designed to

  • Offer support to postgraduate research students at critical phases in the research degree to ease students’ progression through the process of undertaking a research degree and thus enhance the student experience 
  • Offer the quality and scope of transferable skills provision in line with local and national policy, equipping researchers with transferable knowledge and skills that can be utilised during and beyond their research degree
  • Offer a rich interactive learning experience with time for researchers across all disciplines to develop core skills as part of a cross-university research community, as well as develop knowledge on the breadth of research that is taking place. Thereby offering an environment for forming and strengthening a peer network that will enhance the student experience and could prove valuable in the development of future collaborative research projects.

Our teaching approaches will

  • Offer time for researchers to collectively explore the material in the context of their own research using a workshop approach where possible
  • Offer development opportunities in concentrated workshop programmes over a relatively small number of days. This will be useful for researchers who travel long distances or take annual leave to attend events at the University of Sunderland, and is especially important for part-time researchers.
  • Offer a flexible learning, student-centred, approach with blended learning opportunities, which recognises that every student at research degree level is an adult learner on their own learning journey. To support this:
    • Researchers are encouraged to take responsibility for constructing their learning journey in a Personal Development Plan (PDP) with guidance from their supervisory team. The PDP is task orientated for a successful research degree and focused on skills acquisition for a successful future career.
    • Researchers are encouraged to take advantage of both online and face-to-face learning opportunities, both on the programme and as self-directed learning.

The development programme

The central development programme is a series of courses designed to support activities during your research degree at critical points as shown below:


Critical point




Before teaching

Preparing to teach at the University of Sunderland

Compulsory for postgraduate research students who will teach on undergraduate programmes.

Provides an introduction to teaching and learning at the University of Sunderland and supports the planning of your first teaching session.

Getting started

Central Induction Course for MPhil and PhD researchers

Provides an induction to doing a research degree at the University of Sunderland and will support your literature review.

During your literature review and writing your four-month report

Writing a literature review and four-month report

Provides support whilst writing the literature review and four-month report.

Before data collection

Technologies for handling research information

Provides support for the use of software for handling research information, which many researchers find useful early in their research degree as they consider collecting, analysing and graphing data; as well as writing up their findings.

Before presenting your research

Presenting your research

Provides support for presenting research at conferences, in lectures, in a Three Minute Thesis competition

Before writing your thesis, attending your viva, updating your CV and attending job interviews

Completing your research degree

Provides support for the later stages of your research degree and moving on to a future career.

This programme is delivered alongside other learning opportunities, such as:

  • Webinars which we host and online learning materials we curate; to develop understanding and capabilities further
  • Submitting conference abstracts and presenting papers at the annual regional Three Rivers Learning and Teaching Conference which we co-organise with regional universities
  • Taking part in the annual University Three Minute Thesis presentation skills competitions which we host; the regional final which we coordinate (and host every five years) and the national Vitae competition which we financially support
  • Attending monthly ‘Research Friday’ events, for networking and short development workshops which span the areas covered in the central programme
  • Attending subject specific faculty organised workshops and seminar programmes
  • Attending full Masters level research methods courses (without paying additional fees) where it is appropriate


More information

Email: celt@sunderland.ac.uk