PhD training and development

Pursuing a PhD is increasingly seen as more than producing a thesis and acquiring a scholarly specialism.

Your motivations for embarking on a PhD journey may vary, but by the end of it, you will be expected to be able to operate as an independent and competent researcher in various professional contexts and achieve broader social impacts.

In order to better prepare you for the current competitive economy and other challenges ahead of you, SOAS is committed to the academic and professional development of all doctoral researchers. Our doctoral training programme is robust and in line with the recommendations of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Vitae Researcher Development Framework, and other good practices of the sector.

    Training Needs Analysis 

    Given the abundance of opportunities but the pressures of time, it is crucial for doctoral researchers to plan and monitor their researcher development activities strategically. The annual Training Needs Analysis (on PhD Manager) has been designed to help you and your supervisors in that process.

    The TNA is a conversation between a doctoral researcher and their lead supervisor at the beginning of each academic year, whereby both parties identify skills areas that need further development and make prioritised action plans for that year.

    Throughout the rest of the year, the doctoral researcher then maintains a record (on PhD Manager) of development activities they undertake as per their TNA. That record will feed into the researcher’s Annual Progress Review.

    Common Core modules

    PhD training at SOAS takes place principally at the disciplinary level, led and overseen by the PhD Programme Conveners in the respective departments. This is complemented by interdisciplinary and transferable research skills training open to all research students across the institution, including two credit-bearing “Common Core” modules by the Doctoral School. Besides their department training, all first-year students are expected to complete Common Core I at least. 

    These two modules are designed to provide all SOAS PhD students with a strong foundation in research ethics, risk assessment, wellbeing, data management, open scholarship, and critical digital literacy, as well as fostering collegiality and collaboration beyond the students’ home departments.

    SOAS is a member of the ESRC’s UBEL DTP, the AHRC’s CHASE Consortium, the Bloomsbury Postgraduate Skills Network (BPSN), and the Bloomsbury Doctoral Partnership (with Birkbeck, LSHTM, the UCL Institute of Education, and the Royal Veterinary College). We benefit from and contribute to training sharing schemes and events within all of these networks.