Faculty of Mathematics and Physical Sciences

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Nickolai Berkoff

PhD Applied Mathematics - currently in fourth year

"My advice to anyone considering a PhD is to make sure that you have a good supervisor, maybe chat to some of the supervisors or PhD students before you apply."

Faculty training policy

To support your studies, and provide you with skills to take with you once you’ve graduated, the University provides training opportunities for you to take part in, either specific to your field or generic and highly transferable. Some changes to training requirements have taken place across our Faculty which may not have been clearly stated in your School handbook or website. Therefore this page hopes to bring together all the details you will need to identify, access, and record the training you require.

Compulsory Generic Training Points or Days 
The Faculty does not require students to complete a set number of days’ generic skills training, nor does it use a points system. This may still be stated in some School handbooks but is an old requirement which is no longer followed in either the Faculty or the University. Please disregard all mention of this. 

Foundation Training and Development Package 
The Faculty has put together a package of training which we expect all PhD students to complete. The courses and workshops listed here will give you a strong foundation of generic skills, providing you with the basics to complete each year of your studies. Although some titles may change over the course of a year, the basic aims of each workshop, course or activity is designed to provide the basic framework of skills. Other specific additional courses are highly recommended. 

See the training package

With the help of the Training and Development Needs Analysis tool, you and your supervisor will build a bespoke training and development plan, providing you with the skills and training required to support you through your studies. This can include generic and research-specific training, attendance at taught courses (either as full or non-assessed students), and local, central or external courses. 

Training and Development Needs Analysis Tool (TDNA) 
Accessible from the side bar of the PDR, the TDNA can help you identify the generic skills areas in which you could benefit from additional training. The statements given are centred on the four ‘competency’ areas, and are geared to guide you in your future training choices. The use of the TDNA tool is not compulsory but can certainly help, especially if reviewed on an annual basis.

Taught Courses 
Your supervisor or School may require you to attend taught courses. These could be either undergraduate or Masters level, or can be specific to your programme of study. It is important that you understand what is required of you, and if you are expected to be ‘formally’ assessed (e.g. are you expected to take an examination at the end). Some courses you may need to formally enrol for, again dependant on if there is any formal assessment. You should discuss the requirements with your supervisor and the module leader, and add them to your training plan. 

Annual Training Plan 
Each year, within one month of registration, you will need to meet with your Supervisor to discuss training and development needs for the coming year. In addition to those courses required as part of the basic Foundation package, you should make use of the Training and Development Needs Analysis tool to identify those areas which are most lacking. 

You will then need to complete a Training Plan, in which you list those courses you intend to take over the year. If you are taking any taught courses they should be included on the form so that you can gain access to the VLE, the tool used for taught module attendance. Once signed by both you and your supervisor, it should be uploaded to the PDR using the report type “Training Plan”. A new Training Plan will need to be completed each year, again signed by both you and your Lead Supervisor, and then uploaded to the PDR. 

PDR ‘My Training Plan’
Even once the Training Plan form has been uploaded to the PDR, you still have the opportunity to add things to your record through the use of the PDR tool, ‘My Training Plan’, available through the sidebar of the PDR. Your supervisor can confirm a specific course has been completed, and you can add to this at any point in the year. Use of this facility is not compulsory, but is a good way of keeping track of all the training you identify through the year as important and/or helpful to your studies 

PDR ‘Training and Events Log’ 
Completion of this section of the PDR is compulsory as it confirms the training you have completed over your studies. Accessible via a tab on your home page, you can see all training you have completed. Most centrally organised courses have their details automatically added following attendance, and some Faculty or School sessions may also be logged in this way. However, you are expected to check that this has occurred, and to add details of any School, Faculty, or external training events missing yourself. It can take up to two weeks for the details of School or central courses to show on the system, so please ensure you don’t duplicate the record by adding it yourself before checking. You can also add your reflections on your training. Just click ‘reflect’ at the side of each record once the details of the course have been added. The PDR currently still lists a point value for each course taken, and provides a ‘Points Summary’ at the bottom of the tab. However, this facility is not used in our Faculty so you can disregard this aspect.