Students Staff

Professional programmes

Professional programme workshops

Our workshops are designed to help you develop the fundamental skills of professional life in the context of our University. Workshops are open to any member of University staff (unless otherwise stated). Most courses are up to one day in length but we also run some longer events, such as Springboard (for female professionals).

To book a place:

  1. log in to your HR Organiser
  2. click on the professional development tab
  3. choose learning activities and search for your event
  • Lean facilitators course

    This one day workshop will provide you with a good understanding of lean, combining hands on exercises with case studies.

  • Improving assertiveness

    This programme takes place over two half days and will show you, through discussion and practical exercises, strategies that will help you become more assertive and confident.

  • Presentation skills

    A half day workshop aimed at increasing your confidence as a presenter.

  • Mastering the media interview

    A course for staff who are required to give radio interviews within their job role. You will get to practice your interview techniques with an experienced journalist.

  • Mental health first aid

    A two day education course which teaches people how to identify, understand and help a person who may be development a mental health issue.

  • How to get the best from your appraisal

    A session outlining the university’s appraisal scheme, and advising on how appraisees can get the most our of their appraisal interview.

  • Springboard

    A four day development programme for women. Using reflection and self-evaluation techniques this programme helps women to improve their confidence and take action.

  • Unconscious bias

    A bitesize workshop exploring how the beliefs and values gained from family, culture and a lifetime of experiences influences how we make evaluate both others and ourselves.

  • Customer Service

    We offer bespoke customer service training to support teams to gather and analyse customer feedback. We also offer a customer service workshop designed to address development needs identified and give your team the tools to improve customer service.

Further information

If you can't book a place on any workshop or if there are additional workshops that you would find useful to develop you and/ or your colleagues, then please email

For further information about our workshops, email Mandy Borges or telephone ext. 2382.

Academic programme

Throughout the year we organise a large number of workshops for academic and academic-related staff at the University and partner institutions. This programme of events focuses on different aspects of learning, teaching, and research. It responds to changing contexts and new technologies. Elements of the academic programme will be relevant to you regardless of your specific role and level of experience. Sessions draw on the expertise of colleagues based at Essex and at other institutions. The “academics and researchers” section of the events page provides more details and upcoming dates.

Some of the key themes covered this year are listed below.

  • Assessment and feedback
  • Curriculum review
  • Employability
  • Innovation
  • Internationalisation
  • Performance element of lecturing
  • Permanency and promotion
  • Plagiarism prevention
  • Research-led education
  • Retention
  • Sector-wide developments
  • Supervision
  • Supporting students
  • Technology-enhanced learning

Please contact us if you have any queries.

Research programme

  • Workshops

    We run several courses that are relevant to your role. A full list of these opportunities is now listed on your HR Organiser page. To make a booking on any event, simply log in to your HR Organiser, click on the professional development tab, choose learning activities and then select your event.

  • Coaching

    One-to-one coaching is available for research staff. Career coaching gives you the opportunity to have a confidential discussion about issues connected with your current employment and future with a professionally-qualified and experienced careers adviser. It can help you to reflect on your career goals, discuss your career plans in higher education or non-academic sectors, develop your job-hunting strategies and get feedback on your CV and interview technique.

    Please contact us if you wish to discuss a specific training need or to request coaching.

  • Resources

    HR Excellence in Research Award

    The University holds the HR Excellence in Research Award which reflects our commitment to harnessing the talents of all the members of its academic community, supporting those engaged in research to reach their full potential and recognising that individual members of staff can contribute to the University’s research excellence in different ways. Our application included a Gap Analysis and Action Plan for the implementation of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers.

  • Documents

  • External websites

    • Vitae provides a dedicated researchers' portal with information, news and opportunities. It includes labour market and careers information for research staff including surveys and research, and a programme of national courses connected with career development.
    • Science careers offers a range of articles on career development, including funding and getting published.
    • Euroaxess: Researchers in motion provides information about research in Europe, European research policies, career opportunities in Europe, international collaboration and transnational mobility.

  • Extending your portfolio

    Many Essex researchers have contributed to talks or participated in work–related programmes. The experience can help to extend your skills and form the basis of a growing network of contacts, of value in academia or beyond.

    • Biology4All is a school-based initiative which invites researchers to contribute to their talks.
    • The Society of Biology runs an intern programme for recent graduates and scientists on career breaks or those considering a move into science or education policy. It is also possible to join a committee as a researcher to advise the society's council on a range of topics including research careers, science education, and issues in agriculture, environmental and biomedical sciences.

  • Feedback

    What can our programme do for you? The stories below provide examples of how it has helped other research staff.

    Applying for posts outside academia

    “I attended this workshop session at a time when I wasn't sure what my next career move might be.

    “What was valuable about the session was that it gave me the impetus to think through not only the decisions I was facing about my career direction, but also how I would need to promote myself and my research skills and experience to a third party.

    “The workshop and the individual careers coaching that followed helped me towards constructing a really effective CV. I subsequently found a senior research post with which I am very happy. I can undoubtedly attribute some of this success to the workshop and the support provided by the Learning and Teaching Unit.”

    Research Officer, Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

    Interviews for lectureships

    “This course was an indispensable aid to my (successful!) interview preparation. The mock interviews with a lecturer gave me a real feel for the sort of questions I would be asked. I then used the handouts we took home to prepare model answers. This gave me real confidence when I came to the real thing.

    “I subsequently succeeded in securing a lecturing post at a London University.”

    Teaching Fellow, Sociology

    Project management

    “I found this course very inspiring and motivating for improving my performance in my research role. It provided a great confidence-boost and improved my ability to articulate my skills better.

    “I thought I knew a lot about the practice of project management, but the course showed me there were more tools out there I could use, and use the ones I am already conversant with to greater effect.

    “I can already see the benefits of these tools immediately when applying for grant funding. I am more confident drawing up a project plan taking account of all the stages that we learnt about: statement of work; stakeholder analysis; work breakdown structure; Gantt charts; cost analysis; risk analysis; review and evaluation.”

    Senior Research Officer, Biological Sciences

GTA programme

Graduate teaching assistants

All graduates who teach are required to meet standards outlined in the Guidance on the employment of Graduate Teachers. In order to achieve this you must:-

  • Attend two day induction event in September 2016. To make a booking on any event, simply log in to your HR Organiser, click on the professional development tab, search for the induction event and complete your booking.
  • Pass Module 1 of the online Equality and Diversity training
  • Successful completion of Level 1 of CADENZA resulting in achievement of Associate Fellow recognition with the Higher Education Academy

Graduate demonstrators and graduate laboratory assistants

  • Attend one day induction event in September 2016. To make a booking on any event, simply log in to your HR Organiser, click on the professional development tab, search for the induction event and complete your booking.
  • Pass Module 1 of the online Equality and Diversity training
  • If your responsibilities include assessment and feedback you may be required to complete Level 1 of CADENZA

For further information please contact ldev.

Doctoral programme

We offer our University's doctoral candidates a variety of learning and development opportunities.

  • Workshops

    • We run an extensive range of courses for doctoral students, as part of our University's Proficio programme.
    • We also offer Wise Up Wednesdays - a series of one-off events that take a broad look at research-related topics. Often delivered by guest speakers, these popular sessions are likely to be of interest to research students from a wide range of disciplines. Previous topics have included getting published in top journals, timely completion of your PhD, managing your research data, and demonstrations of research software packages.
    • To listen to feedback from previous participants, please click one of the links below.

    What have you gained from the programme?

    How has the programme helped you with your research?

    How do you feel the programme has contributed to your career development?

    Would you recommend the programme to other PHD students?

    What excites you about the programme?

    Which course has made the biggest impact on you?

    Reflections on surviving the viva course

    You can find more information about upcoming workshops and book your place using the Proficio booking system.

    There are many other development opportunities open to you. Check with your supervisor for other development opportunities events available through your School or Department.

  • Coaching

    One-to-one coaching is available for doctoral students. Coaching provides you with an opportunity to have a confidential discussion about issues connected with your PhD and study, as well as your future plans.

    If you are interested in a coaching session, please contact us.

  • Resources



    The following videos provide advice from academics and doctoral students at the University of London.

    The good presentation video  (.wmv) - improving your presentation skills.

    The good supervision video (.wmv) - making the most of your supervision.

    The good viva video (.wmv) - managing your viva.

    External websites

    • Vitae provides a dedicated information and news portal for researchers. It includes labour market and careers information, including surveys and research, and a programme of national courses connected with career development.
    • The researcher development framework developed by Vitae is a useful resource for researchers in planning their skills- and career- development.

  • Feedback

    What can our programme do for you? The stories below provide examples of how it has helped other doctoral candidates.

    Sustaining your motivation

    “I attended the Sustaining Your Motivation course, part of the programme run by Learning and Development, not long after I began my PhD. The course included a talk from someone who had completed his PhD quite recently. The talk illustrated a number of ways in which that student had sustained his motivation.

    “I was particularly struck by the fact that writing articles for publication had been such a motivating experience for the speaker. Writing articles gave him a break from his usual research activities and getting things published had been both an immediate boost to his motivation and a longer term benefit – by adding to his academic profile. I realised from the talk that it was possible to write an article for publication even as early as the first year of my PhD.

    “I discussed writing an article with my supervisor the next time I saw him. It can take a long time for an article to appear in print, so I am glad I raised the question then. I wrote my article, which appeared in a journal one year and one month after the course.

    “A further message from this course was to build variety into your work as a research student in order to sustain your motivation. As a result I have enrolled on the University's Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Practice and frontrunners programmes. I am also a member of the University's Dignity and Respect working group.

    “Looking back, I feel that the course I attended was very valuable. It alerted me to the possibility of getting some of my work published. The varied things I have become involved with have added greatly to my experience and as well as sustaining my motivation, they will hopefully enhance my career prospects too.”

    PhD Student, Health and Human Sciences

    Presentation skills

    “I am a first year PhD student. This year I have attended a number of workshops organized by Learning and Development, but the most useful ones, and the ones with skills that I have been able to practice right away, have been the Presentation Skills and Advanced Presentation Skills workshops.

    “I knew from the start that I have a problem with public speaking as I have encountered difficulties related with stress management during a presentation before while being a student and later presenting at conferences in my home country. This is why I initially decided to attend the courses, but later had an even greater motivation, as I was to present at a conference in Cambridge in March this year.

    “I found the classes to be very useful as while being able to practice my skills, I received very valuable structured feedback from other participants. This helped me realise that what I had initially considered to be my problem was in reality not something I should worry about and that I should concentrate instead on other aspects of presenting, such as pace and voice levels. Without the feedback I would have never realised the mistakes I had been making previously. The workshop also helped me a lot to be more open in communicating with the audience and making eye-contact.

    “My Cambridge presentation went very well and the whole conference turned out to be one of the highlights of the term. I am very grateful to everyone from the Learning and Development team for their dedicated and highly professional work with the students.”

    PhD Student, Literature, Film and Theatre Studies

    Poster presentations

    “I took part in a poster competition organised by Learning and Development. My poster was chosen to go forward to the Regional Poster Competition which was held in Cambridge. This was a meaningful experience which motivated me as a novice researcher. Approximately 60 PhD students from different universities participated in the competition and experts in various areas were invited as judges of the poster presentation. The first step which was making a poster was difficult as it was necessary to consider how to show my research on a limited space effectively. I was not only asked to present the poster orally but also to judge other posters as a peer evaluation.

    “It was challenging for me to talk about my research to people who are not familiar with my research topic. I needed to simplify the contents as much as possible to make the audience understand. Although some of the audience gave me unexpected questions, I received useful and encouraging comments on my presentation. I was glad to hear that my poster was interesting and easy to follow. Through this experience I became confident in talking about my research and I think that my presentation and communication skills were improved. Furthermore, I learned how my poster presentations can be better by evaluating other posters objectively and critically, which is beneficial to my future poster presentation.”

    PhD Student, Language and Linguistics

    Surviving the viva

    “In the final year of my PhD, I attended the Surviving the Viva course. The thought of sitting the viva was a relatively stressful one, and I was keen to get as much information as I could before I sat down across from my examiners. The session was exactly what I had hoped for. It included presentations by a professor who had served many times as an internal and external examiner, and a recent viva “survivor”. I found this especially useful, as it gave me a direct look at what happens in the viva – arguably one of the most mysterious aspects of doctoral study! We also worked in groups to enact mock vivas – one person acting as the examiner, the other being examined. I was surprised at how useful this exercise was in streamlining my ideas, even if my “examiner” had limited familiarity with my subject – a skill I have put to use in countless academic and non-academic situations since. The atmosphere was collegial, and it was interesting to imagine oneself in both roles. To assist in the process, we were primed with a list of common viva questions prepared by examiners. I put these to use after the session in my preparation for the real thing.

    “There is nothing that brings quite the same feeling of confidence as knowing you are prepared. After Surviving the Viva, I felt much better both about how to prepare for the viva, and also about what it was that was expected of me on the day. I would recommend it to anyone preparing to defend their thesis.”

    PhD Student, Art History and Theory