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The University of Southampton
Doctoral College

Faculty Training

Postgraduate Training

Training is a compulsory element of all UK PhD degrees. There are several routes by which training is given dependent on the needs of the student. Each student should discuss their needs with the supervisory team. Training is a continuous and recorded process throughout the PhD programme, but it is particularly important that this consultation takes place at the beginning of Year 1. Each postgraduate must maintain a Training Record (via PGR tracker) that certifies successful completion or attendance on a particular training activity and its credit value.

The scope and nature of ‘training’ is wide and diverse. It includes:

  • formal instruction in subject-specific areas in School or elsewhere in the University e.g. enrolling on taught modules
  • informal instruction within the School, e.g. working with your supervisor, annual conference and attendance at Academic Unit seminars
  • courses for specific techniques e.g. attendance at NCRM events
  • courses for generic research and presentation skills e.g. through Gradbook, Vitae, or Doctoral College
  • national or international student training courses e.g. summer schools, institutional visits
  • specialised training in areas such as First Aid, School Vehicle induction, Demonstrating (OTD Parts 1 – 3.)
  • spending a period reading relevant resources on an area or topic that requires additional knowledge, for instance on a methodology or conceptual framework (e.g. Bloomsbury’s ‘What Is?’ Research Methods series).

Core Training

All Faculties at Southampton must provide students with access to a core set of training which is outlined in Your PhD in the Handbook. The core training will be delivered by Faculties in a variety of ways, as outlined below.

Mandated University-level training

In addition, all new doctoral researchers must complete the following mandated training. Failure to complete successfully the mandated training below is a failure to meet the progression requirements and so will result in a failure to progress.

Postgraduate researchers commencing their studies in 2020/21 must complete the following by the time they undertake their Academic Needs Analysis:

Please note that you'll need to be logged into your Office 365 account in order to access the mandatory training page, which is hosted on the new PGR Development Hub SharePoint site.

Online training on data management will be provided by the Library and should be completed by all doctoral researchers commencing their studies in 2020/21 by the time of their first formal progression review.

Formal training through taught modules

All graduate students can enrol on modules taught by the School, attend modules taught within the wider Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences, as well as sit in on modules across the university (with the convenors consent). Graduate students should only consider attending level 6 (i.e. masters level) modules. Appropriate modules to study should be discussed with supervisors. This discussion should occur at the earliest opportunity as modules commence in either early October or late January and are often not repeated until the following year.


Informal instruction

There are many ways in which informal instruction can occur including supported ‘learning by doing’ with supervisory guidance, attendance at research seminars, Graduate School induction, and participation in the Geography and Environmental Graduate School Conference.

All Year 1 graduate students are encouraged to attend the annual Graduate School induction programme. This takes place over 2 days at the start of each new academic year (usually end of September) providing basic information on the process of the PhD, administration, key contacts, and an introduction to other PGRs and staff in the academic unit. Informal instruction will be provided on an on-going basis by your supervisor and the supervisory team.

Graduate students are required to deliver a poster/seminar/lecture on their research during each year of full-time registration, at the annual Postgraduate Conference. Part-time candidates must present a seminar/lecture every other year of their part-time registration, and are welcome to present others if they wish. Attendance at the Graduate School Conference and appropriate research seminars is compulsory for all full-time graduate students as part of their training.

Research seminars by staff and visiting speakers are also arranged by the School within the main research themes: attendance at theme seminars is compulsory for all full-time graduate students. Seminars can provide valuable opportunities for postgraduate students to meet and be involved with cognate staff within the School research themes and outside their direct supervisory team. In addition, the School runs an annual lecture in honour of Professor Ken Gregory, a previous Head of the School, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Goldsmith’s College, University of London. The Gregory Lecture series aims to bring some of the world’s top-ranking geographers to Southampton, and all staff and postgraduates are expected to be present.

For those planning to use qualitative methods in their research, there are also methods seminars organized by QUEST: Qualitative Expertise at Southampton University. There are also some recorded sessions from previous seminars on their website.


Formal training at other UK institutions

Opportunities occur every year for training at other institutions. Through your supervisor you should be able to find out about other training that exists that is necessary for your studies at another institution. A good source is the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) which documents all ESRC approved training across the UK. Your RTSG is available to support you to pay for this, and your supervisor should advise you where to go to find additional funds if needed.


National or international student training courses

National or international student training courses are often available and affordable to attend. These can be organised as events at post-graduate conferences or as summer schools and institutional visits. These are also popular ways of engaging with a wider academic community within your subject area. Information about summer schools will be circulated through the email lists by the Doctoral Programme Director – however ask your supervisor if you have specific needs in this area.

Institutional visits can also support learning. University of Southampton is part of the World Universities Network (WUN). You can arrange (and request funding for) institutional visits through this; for more information visit the website.

Eleanora Gandolfi is the WUN coordinator in Southampton (email:


Annual Postgraduate Conference

This compulsory annual event provides the opportunity for all postgraduates to give oral presentations to staff and students, and to receive feedback. It is one of the mandatory training activities.

First years students are required to produce posters, whilst the second and third years make presentations. Each oral presenter has 15 minutes for their talk plus five minutes for questions. The presentations and posters are an integral part of the postgraduate training programme and two members of staff will therefore make notes on each talk or poster as the basis for formal feedback. There will also be the opportunity for peer review of posters and talks.




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