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Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland

Your Professional Development

Why is Skills Development Important?

No matter where you are in your research career, whether at the very start of your PhD, an established researcher or somewhere in the middle, skills development has a critical part to play in your employability and career development. Whilst your PhD is in itself an outstanding academic qualification, it may not be enough to prepare you for the career you aspire to and the MASTS PG Cert aims to enhance your skills and competencies. When thinking about skills development, it is often helpful to think about dividing development into ‘discipline specific’ and ‘transferrable’ professional skills. Developing both supports you to be a more effective researcher, ultimately improving the quality of your research, and enhancing your employability in many different sectors. Employers in academia and elsewhere recognise and place high value on transferable skills in prospective employees. Your research and professional skills development will have relevance to marine science and technology, giving you broad social, economic and political perspectives, and together with your transferrable skills development, will allow you to take on innovation, leadership and influencing roles across many sectors, in and out with academia.

The MASTS PG Cert provides opportunities to:

  • Get the most from your current research activities as part of MASTS and for your future career
  • Build your confidence through the development of research-related and transferrable skills
  • Identify and plan your own personal training and development package
  • Help fulfil your potential and succeed in a highly competitive employment market
Your Bespoke Programme

You should regularly discuss your training and professional development requirements with your supervisor(s), making them aware of the training you are undertaking and ensuring their support. The MASTS PG Cert team are happy to help with this if needed.

Through discussion with supervisors, MASTS Graduate School and the management team in Strathclyde, MASTS encourages you to create a bespoke development programme that best meets your needs and aspirations, undertaking activities at the right time in your PhD studentship. Your host university may also require that you complete specific training and professional development. The exact details will vary according to your university/department/school or Faculty and information will be available from your university’s graduate school or researcher professional development staff. Please discuss your local opportunities and any mandatory requirements with your supervisor, researcher developer or university graduate school contact. However, engagement in such activities can also be recorded as a contribution to the MASTS PG Cert, provided you meet the assessment criteria and provide appropriate evidence for development of particular skills or competencies.

A number of core activities are organised by MASTS which specifically support the development of competencies and attributes of a professional marine science researcher. These are provided by the MASTS partners and other external organisations and are offered in addition to the professional development for researchers organised by MASTS partner universities. The number of credits allocated to an activity varies depending on the scope of the activity, the level of engagement and evidence of achievement. 


Tools to help you plan
As a researcher, you are responsible for your own skills development. There are a variety of personal development tools (see below) to help you identify what opportunities are most appropriate for your development needs. In all cases, regular review will help keep you on track, as well as accommodating the inevitable changes that occur in your research, personal development and aspirations for the future.
The Researcher Development Framework (RDF)
This is a competency-based framework that describes the knowledge, behaviours, skills and attributes required by successful researchers. You can use the RDF to measure yourself against each competency and plan how to advance to the next competency level. You can purchase, at your own expense, a personal subscription to the RDF planner, an interactive online tool that describes the skill level required at all career stages.
Training Needs Analysis
To help you focus on your PhD and first job, we have developed a training needs analysis based on the RDF. The tool is a simple way to judge your own skill levels and it can be linked to the MASTS PG Cert. Once you have identified what competencies you would like to develop, you can explore activities that will help you develop those competencies, recording achievements as part of your own MASTS PG Cert programme.
Personal Development Plan
To help you decide on appropriate training, your department/school/Faculty may also have a personal development plan (PDP) in place which you are strongly encouraged to use. Using the available resources at an early stage of your PhD will allow you to focus on your training needs. Knowing this, you will then be able to create a tailored training package from all the opportunities available to you, selecting appropriate activities at the optimal time to support your research or career needs, which can also fulfil the requirements of your MASTS PG Cert.
Postgraduate Progress Monitoring
You will also have regular meetings with either your supervisors, sponsors or others, as prescribed by your university’s postgraduate policy. At these meetings, your skills and progress can be discussed. Formal progress reports should happen at least annually, using PGR monitoring systems at your registering university. As well as discussing your research, your supervisor will review your training progress with you and this can help to inform the bespoke programme of development you undertake as part of the MASTS PG Cert.
MASTS Resources

We’re working behind the scenes to bring you a suite of useful, and updateable, resources including: 

  • Find an expert
  • Find facilities & equipment
  • MASTS Publications


If you would like to be updated when the resources section is live please let us know.