Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click on 'Find out more' to see our Cookie statement.

This section provides background information, resources and tools to help you assess your discipline-specific, research and broader skills and experience, then to prioritise and plan for those that you need / want to develop.

Graduate training framework

Training needs analysis (TNA)

A training needs analysis has been developed at the request of current DPhil students. It has been designed to help you make the best possible start to your DPhil research, and to go on and complete a successful DPhil. It will help you identify, prioritise and record the things you need to learn and develop in order to carry out your research successfully.

Although it’s known as a ‘training needs analysis’, it should really be called a ‘learning needs analysis’. Skills and experience are developed mostly in informal ways in collaboration with your supervisors and colleagues, and through your day to day work, as well as through attending formal training / events. 

What is a training needs analysis (TNA) and how do I carry it out?

 A training needs analysis (TNA)  is a tool to help you, with the support of your supervisor, review you current skills and experience, and then prioritise and plan for those that you need / want to develop.

You can download the MPLS Training Needs Analysis (TNA) template here.  It is structured around the core generic skills that are essential to becoming a good and effective researcher, and should be tailored to your context by adding the research and discipline related skills that you will need. It also provides guidance on the standards required for each skill.

In discussion with your supervisor, add the research and discipline related skills you will need, together with some guidance on standards, to the relevant part of the TNA form. Consider your level of each skill against the standards guidance and identify any gaps. Then prioritise which of the gaps you should work on and how – for example you might attend a training course or develop the particular skill / experience in another way. The graduate training framework below will help you schedule which skills to develop when. 

There is a list of relevant MPLS divisional courses here.

You can find more information about training courses from the division's graduate training page, and details of  training available from other training providers in the University here

You should make notes and keep records on the TNA document.

When should I carry out a training needs analysis?

To help you make the best possible start to your research, and because core skills are reviewed at Transfer of Status, it is essential that you start thinking about this right at the beginning of your DPhil. You should have a project initiation meeting with your supervisor during the first weeks to get the process going, and then review and update it regularly.

The Project Initiation Plan Template  provides a useful framework for this.  It will help you start thinking about your research question and methodology, the skills and equipment that you will need, and about other aspects of your DPhil activities.

One of the critical aspects of the TNA is to make sure that you review and update it regularly throughout your DPhil - you should consider it as a living and evolving work. How often this happens depends on what you and your supervisor think is appropriate for you, but the division recommends a review at least once a year and preferably more often. You should review what progress has been made on the learning needs identified previously, and decide which new priorities to address.

This will mean that your skills and experience develop in the right way for you; and that you have a record of your learning, which you can refer to when you come to create your CV.

As you progress you should also think about which additional skills you need or want to work on – for example Public Engagement and Enterprise skills. The MPLS Graduate Training Programme and the Vitae Researcher Development Framework  provide information and ideas. 


To help you plan the activity that will help you develop the skills and experience you need and want, training courses for DPhil students in the MPLS Division have been organised into a framework of phases and categories to guide you through the broad periods of your doctorate, and help you decide which skills you want / need to develop. The framework is intended to act as a guide and is not prescriptive.

Your department / supervisor will be able to advise on when you should be developing academic, research and discipline-specific skills and experience. To browse the full range of courses provided by departments in MPLS, see the Researcher Training Tool

The Framework

The training categories are defined as:

Academic skills are lecture courses / subjects that form an extension to, and fill gaps in, undergraduate knowledge.

Research skills are those needed to actually carry out research, for example safety, equipment use, programming.

Transferable career skills are those which are core to every student’s development and are genuinely transferable, although they may have a subject nuance.

Academic skills and Research skills are provided in departments. Transferable career skills are provided both by departments and the division (and other providers as appropriate).

 Please use the phases for guidance rather than as rigid timescales. 




Foundations Phase (0-12 months)

Intensive Research Phase

(12-30 months)

Completion Phase

(24+ months)

Any Time during the DPhil

Transferable Career Skills courses


Foundations for a Successful DPhil

GRAD Challenge

Completing your DPhil



Scientific Writing: Getting your Paper Published

Viva Preparation and Practice

Thesis & Report Writing

Managing your Supervisory Relationship

 Poster Design and Presentation



Introduction to Public Engagement

Presentation Skills


Teaching: reviewing first steps and developing the next


Navigator for men (not 1st years)

Research Integrity


Developing Learning and Teaching (DLT)


Scientific Writing: Core Skills





Springboard for Women (not 1st years)


Research Skills



Research Skills at these phases are delivered in your department and research groups. For more details see the Researcher Training Tool.



Academic Skills



Academic  Skills at these phases are delivered in your department and research groups. For more details see the Researcher Training Tool.