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The list of core generic skills and resulting training needs analysis have been compiled at the request of MPLS DPhil students, and to provide a supporting structure for you and your supervisor to talk about and plan for the skills and experience you will need and want to develop throughout your DPhil. The first part of the training needs analysis is structured around the core generic skills; you should complete the space provided at the end with the discipline and research specific skills you will need. You might want to start the training needs analysis process by discussing these with your supervisor.

Core generic, research and discipline related skills for graduate students

Core and discrete skills



Yes/ No / Partly / Other notes

Is this a current development need?

Action ( What? By when?)


  • Referencing
  • Grammar, punctuation and spelling
  • Structure
  • Clarity and narrative flow
  • Argument and critical analysis


1. Able to write a thesis to a high standard

2. Coherent, purposeful, structured, critical writing

3. (In later years) Able to write to the standard of lead author on journal article / funding application



Research Ethics and Integrity


Able to design, carry out, and report on research to meet the ethical and integrity standards of your discipline(s) 



Owning a Successful DPhil / Managing your Supervisor

  • Independence
  • Confidence
  • Assertiveness
  • Responsibility
  • Communication
  • Commitment
  • Time management
  • Resilience



Actively taking responsibility for the success of your DPhil



Presentation skills

  • Understanding your own presentational style
  • Planning, selecting and structuring content
  • Creating AV materials
  • Delivery – body language, tone of voice, audience engagement


Able to communicate scientific ideas effectively within your discipline and engage with questions in a variety of contexts.



Managing your DPhil Project

  • Basic project management skills


Able to devise and maintain a comprehensive and up to date plan for completing your DPhil on time




Completing your DPhil / Writing your Thesis and Viva Preparation


Able to complete a D.Phil that meets the requirements of the University’s examinations procedures

See guidelines for examiners: and

Understand the formal requirements and purpose of the viva

Understand the formal processes and possible outcomes

Able to employ strategies to prepare effectively




Career development 

  • Taking ownership and responsibility
  • Assessment of skills and experience
  • Presenting self effectively through CV and other means
  • Awareness of career landscape
  • Networking and collaborating


1. Have an awareness of the need to consider careers early in the DPhil

2. Think and plan for the career at appropriate times during the DPhil





Additional Career skills

For example teaching, internship, public engagement, enterprise.

These should be added as appropriate throughout your DPhil





Research Basics

Discrete skills will be appropriate to and defined by your discipline and department. Examples include:

  • Keeping lab books
  • Finance – eg for field work
  • Researcher data storage and management
  • Technical skills
  • Understanding the importance of doing reproducible / repeatable research
  • How to make your research useful
  • The scientific method
  • Good laboratory practice
  • Lab safety
  • Basic Statistics
  • Statistical analysis
  • Programming
  • Health and Safety


You will have the essential skills and training you need to be able to make timely progress in your discipline and department.




Research and discipline related skills to be added by student and supervisor

Research and discipline specific skills, and those related to individual needs / aspirations


Yes / No / Partly /Other notes

Is this a current development need?

Action (What? By when?)