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Being a research student in Cambridge offers all kinds of opportunities to build skills towards becoming a professional researcher. There are plenty of skills you can gain during your time here which can also be applied in non-research situations, relating for example to personal effectiveness, communication and working with others. Researcher development enhances the subject and research specific skills that you acquire during your course, which will help you to manage your own research programme and career path more effectively. Good researcher development training will also enhance your ability to communicate your passion to other astronomers and a much wider lay audience.

As astronomers, we are often funded by public bodies so it is important to communicate our work to the general public. In addition many of you will also find yourselves working with larger teams of collaborators. Being able to function effectively within such a team is an important skill to develop. Many astronomy PhD students go on to find employment in the academic research environment but there are those who diversify into related fields utilising their specialist analytical skills. Examples include oceanographers, software developers, meteorologists, teachers, general practitioners, solicitors, and hedge fund analysts. Researcher development training helps expand the opportunities available to you by giving you the confidence and vision to see how your specialist skills can be adapted and expanded.

Explore some of the opportunities available to you - Postgraduate Researcher Development | (

University Policy

It is now a requirement that all PhD students funded by the UK Research Councils, including STFC, participate in 10 days per annum of training in researcher development. The University has since decided that such training should be available for all PhD students irrespective of their source of funding. For IoA students, this is funded by the University and by the School of Physical Sciences. Researcher development should be developed alongside your subject/research specific skills and should be monitored using log sheets provided by the department.

You should take personal responsibility for ensuring that you undertake the required amount of training during the course of your PhD. The completed sheets are then returned to the Office of the School of Physical Sciences to monitor the Researcher Development Development Programme and the information used to help determine future funding.

Training at the IoA

The Institute of Astronomy, being a relatively small department, relies on obtaining the majority of its researcher development training courses from the School of Physical Science and from other courses run by the University. There are, however, some ways of obtaining researcher development skills through the department.

The Induction Programme for first year students incorporates some researcher development training including:

External Training and Resources


Historically, the IoA has approved attendance at external training courses and conferences including:

If you wish to attend an external course, you will first need to check if funding is available.