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Proficio and research degree resources

Browse and book

Proficio icon

Browse Proficio to see the range of training courses available or search for a specific course. You can also use the system to book your place and check your remaining funds.

Proficio is our innovative professional development scheme for postgraduate research students, unique to Essex. We believe that your academic and professional development is vital to your growth as a postgraduate research student and we give you funds that can be spent on a variety of courses and conferences.

As a postgraduate research student you are automatically registered on the Proficio system and can use your University of Essex password and username to book courses and to check your funding. Go to the ‘My Home’ tab in Proficio to check your funding, view your training record, to book or cancel courses.

Our postgraduate research training courses

Proficio is designed to provide you with the resources to maintain the highest levels of research skills, plan your research degree effectively and tackle problems common to researchers. Proficio courses will offer you the opportunity to develop skills and articulate them to either academic or non-academic employers confidently and effectively. They also enable you to network with other postgraduate research students.

Transferable employability skills for research degree postgraduates are critical, as they enable you to work effectively within industry as well as academia. Thinking carefully and strategically about your skills, objectives and the areas in which you need to develop will enable you to take charge of your professional skills development and to become a successful researcher.

We offer courses in a wide variety of areas:

  • career management
  • personal development
  • communication and public engagement
  • influence and impact
  • managing your research and production of your thesis
  • IT and software
  • languages
  • advanced research training and knowledge

External courses and workshops

  • External training courses

    If you have identified an external training course which would be beneficial to the successful completion of your research degree, but a similar course is not available through Proficio at Essex, with the Director of Research Training’s approval, you can use your Proficio funds to pay for the course.

    To apply for approval to use your Proficio funds to attend a training course not provided through Proficio, please complete an approval form (.docx).

    Training course definition

    • Will have a tangible outcome such as new skill acquisition.
    • Generally will be around a theme and will have longer sessions.
    • Akin to courses offered under Proficio at University of Essex.

  • Conference attendance

    From 1 October 2016 doctoral students can use their Proficio funds on conference attendance. For details and information on the amount available for conference attendance, please see the ‘Funding’ section.

    If you would like to attend a conference using Proficio funds, please fill in a conference approval form. (.docx)

    Please allow at least two weeks to receive a response from the Proficio team before you receive a reply regarding your application.

    Conference definition

    • Generally have a broader topic focus.
    • Usually comprise of multiple presentations that are short and concise, with the programme often including key note talks that are longer.
    • Larger events where multiple sessions are running at one time (not always the case but this would make an event clearly a conference).
    • Student may have the opportunity to present their own research, organise a session or just attend to increase subject awareness.


PGR Interdisciplinary Conference Fund

This academic year we have launched a new Postgraduate Research Education Interdisciplinary Conference Fund. This new funding opportunity will award £5000 to the best proposal for an interdisciplinary conference organised by postgraduate researchers. The award will enable the selected applicants to develop an ambitious cross-department, cross-faculty conference. It is aimed to enhance PGR research collaboration and networking at the University level as well as your international and national research visibility. All categories of postgraduate research students are eligible to apply.


Applications must come from students from at least two different faculties and at least three different departments. The conference must take place before Wednesday 31 July 2019.

How to apply

You will need to complete the application form and submit to by 5pm on Monday 21 January 2019.

Please read the guidance on how to write your application.

Applications will be considered by the PGR Interdisciplinary Conference Selection Committee and the successful applicant will be announced on Wednesday 30 January 2019.

  • Students starting from October 2016

    As a new postgraduate research student, you will receive all your funding at the start of your course. Once you have completed your Training Needs Analysis, your Proficio funds will be released. The Training Needs Analysis will be introduced at the Research Student Welcome Conferences in October and January.

    For all new students, Proficio funds are allocated as follows. Part-time students will receive the same pro-rata.

    PhD, PhD by Programme and Doctorates

    PhD, PhD by Programme and Doctorates are allocated £2,500. Your funds are based in two accounts:

    • £2000 will be in your Proficio account
    • £500 will be kept separately and will be dedicated to conference attendance

    You can use up to £200 from your Proficio account for conference attendance. Thus, in total, you can spend up to £700 in conferences.

    Masters by Dissertation

    Masters by Dissertation programmes are allocated £1,000. You can use £500 from your Proficio account for conference attendance.

    Masters of Philosophy (MPhil)

    Masters of Philosophy (MPhil) programmes are allocated £1,500.

    Integrated PhD

    Funding for Integrated PhD programmes is the same as for PhD students. Your funds will be released at the beginning of the 2nd year, but you can make a request to use them during the summer term of your 1st year, once the taught element of your degree is completed.

    Spending in your first year

    In your first year, you will need to seek your supervisor’s approval if you want to spend more than £1,000. Your supervisor should email to confirm this. We do recommend that you regularly discuss your training needs with your supervisor.

  • Doctoral students who started in academic year 2015-16

    You have an additional £500 in a new separate account that can be used solely for conference attendance. Additionally, you can now spend up to £200 of the remaining funds in your Proficio account on conference attendance.

  • If you started your Doctoral Degree before October 2015

    You can now spend up to £700 of the remaining funds in your Proficio account on conference attendance.

  • Business Boost Funding

    Business Boost: Funding and training for business engagement

    Thanks to the ESRC, we currently have funding available via our new Business Boost grant to help PhD students in the social sciences to:

    • Create links with business and industry
    • Extend and consolidate skill sets
    • Address critical societal issues

    If you’ve never worked with a business before but think that your research could be important to make a difference in the world, we are here to help you explore these ideas. And if you already have business connections, we are here to support you in exploring those links further. We can offer:

    • Funding to explore links with, and directly engage with, businesses
    • Free training on business networking and other business engagement skills
    • Help in exploring and establishing business links

    These opportunities are only available for a very short time, so please do get in touch as soon as you can for further information.

    Funding opportunities

    Business Engagement Fund – max £1,000

    The aim of the funding is to support SeNSS & other social science PhD students in engaging with businesses, whether this means developing new relationships, or continuing established links.

    The funded activities of the Business Engagement Fund should be based on your social science research with an aim to explore collaborations that could lead to long-term positive changes in the ‘real world’. This could encourage activities such as:

    • Exploring and understanding business needs and how they can be incorporated into research
    • Understanding how to better collaborate and co-produce knowledge with industry partners, including through existing collaborative research
    • Undertaking social science-informed projects and activities to support an identified business user-need
    • Organising or attending collaborative events

    For further information, and the application form please go to the SeNSS website.


    Before applying, please contact Nikki Pockett, SenSS-IAA Business Engagement and Impact Officer at

    University of Essex students can also contact Dorian Hayes, Knowledge Exchange Manager, Social Sciences at

    Training and other activities

    The SeNSS Business Boost will be holding training sessions on both general topics and specific themes. These are currently being planned and will be posted here when available.

    Terms and Conditions

    Funding and training opportunities are part of the ESRC-funded Business Boost grant for the SeNSS network and includes opportunities for any PhD student working in a social science discipline - or with at least 51% of their research connected to the social sciences - across the 10 SeNSS universities.

Course development

Members of staff and research students can shape the development of Proficio courses by identifying gaps in the training provision and feeding this back to our team ( or by creating Proficio courses.

We welcome course applications from any member of staff or research student, but if you are a student you must discuss your idea with your Director of Research Students or Head of Department to start with.

If you are considering setting up a Proficio course, please read the following information.

  • Criteria for courses

    A successful application will demonstrate that the event

    • offers relevant and timely advanced training for postgraduate research students
    • has content or structure not otherwise available to students within the University
    • meets perceived training needs
    • will contribute to the reputation of the University as a research-excellent institution, supportive of its postgraduate research students
    • encourages students to undertake training here rather than elsewhere
    • is costed and priced appropriately and sustainably

    When developing a course, please have in mind that delegates from outside the University can book onto and attend Proficio courses.

    If you would like to discuss your ideas and course content before applying to run a course, please contact the Director of Research Training.

  • Promoting courses

    All approved courses will be promoted to postgraduate research students by the Proficio Team through the fortnightly bulletin and will be listed centrally for online booking by participants on Proficio. Course providers are responsible for promoting their courses more widely.

  • Funding and costs

    The Proficio Team can support you in the completion of your Proficio Course Application form, but it is your responsibility to set the costs and prices appropriately. This is important as your department will keep any profits, as well as will bear any losses, incurred from the course. For example, if the course is cancelled, but costs have already been incurred, such as paying for administrative support, external speakers or refreshments, the department will bear these losses.

    Once the course goes live on Proficio, students and delegates will pay for the course through Proficio. The department will receive all the fees from Proficio once the course has finished and attendees to the course have been confirmed, via the cost code that has been provided. Please note, if students or delegates do not attend the course without given prior notice, they will still be charged.

  • Administering courses

    The Proficio Team will support you, but it is your responsibility to administer and organise your course. For example, you must book your own rooms, photocopy materials, etc. Some departments have employed Frontrunners to do this. You may wish to include additional administration costs in your financial plan to reflect this.

  • Monitoring attendance and payment of course fees

    It is the responsibility of the course provider to monitor the attendance of delegates at the course. Using their ‘user’ status on the Proficio system, the course provider must mark attendees on the schedule following the course. Once this has been completed, the funds from the bookings will be transferred to the cost code provided.

    If the course provider is not a ‘user’ on Proficio, the course provider must provide the Proficio Team with a list of attendees following the course. Once this has been completed, the funds from the bookings will be transferred to the cost code you have provided.

If, after reading the guidance above, you would like to make an application to the Director of Research Training to run a Proficio course then please complete this form:


Help us give you the courses you want by completing our short survey.

Contact details

If you have any queries about Proficio, please contact the Proficio Team at

Further research degree resources

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Funding and training


Our Doctoral Training Centres offer PhD funding and skills training in a wide range of subject areas. You'll gain the skills and knowledge to tackle important issues facing the world today.

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Use our Research Finder to find the right PhD or supervisor for you. PhD study at Essex lets you investigate your topic in depth, develop new skills, enhance your professional development and build networks.

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