Social Sciences & Arts Graduate Centre

Arts Researcher Skills Programme

sagc arts prog header


About the Researcher Skills Programme

The Arts Researcher Skills Programme is for all research students from the Faculty of Arts and is tailored to your stage of study. 

The Programme has been designed and is run by a team of staff comprising academics from the Faculty of Arts, researcher development professionals from the Graduate School, and library specialists. 

Programme Listing:
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Not sure if you’re in the Faculty of Arts? Have a look at the Faculty’s list of schools and departments

These courses are searchable on Short Courses


A Message from the Associate Dean

"To become more effective researchers you need to develop a range of professional skills—from writing and presentation skills to public engagement and project management. This is a significant part of our provision for you as a research student at The University of Nottingham, which includes: this Faculty Researcher Skills Programme, the central Graduate School Researcher Development Programme, the Social Sciences and Arts Graduate Centre Programme, and placements with local partners through Postgraduate Placements Nottingham.

Whatever future career choice you make, engaging with this Faculty Programme and other opportunities relevant to you will only enhance your future employability. Taking part also represents a great opportunity to meet researchers from outside your own discipline and to develop networks that will be useful to you in the future."



Dr Graham Thompson
Associate Dean



Skills development for research students—why, what and how?

      The Researcher Development Framework and Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC) Research Training Framework outlines the skills a researcher in the arts and humanities needs in order to “develop in their field and as a highly qualified individual in preparation for their future career”. It expects universities to assess, meet and monitor researchers’ training and development needs. At the University of Nottingham, the Faculty of Arts and Graduate School work together to support each research student to undertake a development needs analysis, offering a core programme tailored to different research stages, and providing additional developmental activities that address their identified needs. The monitoring of progress is embedded into the supervision process. Here it is in more detail:
  1.  Development needs analysis:
    At the beginning of your research degree you will undertake a ‘development needs analysis’ to identify which of the skills from the Researcher Development Framework you should prioritise for development. This will become your individual developmental programme for the year. In subsequent years you are encouraged to repeat this analysis with your supervisors.
  2. Core and optional programme:
    The Faculty of Arts has a development programme for all its research students, with core (compulsory) and optional sessions tailored to their stage of study. Early, mid and late stages correspond roughly to years 1, 2 and 3 of a full-time doctorate so if you’re part-time or are registered on another research degree, you may wish to undertake the core sessions at different times. The programme is designed and run by a team that includes researcher development staff from the Graduate School, academic staff from the Faculty of Arts, and library and career development specialists.
  3. Additional activities:
    The Social Sciences & Arts Graduate Centre (SSAGC) also has a range of optional development activities, including careers talks and public engagement events that are open to all research students. Additional opportunities (e.g. placements) are offered by the Postgraduate Placements Nottingham. These may all form part of your individual development programme for the year. They are publicised by email and through the SSAGC Facebook page.
  4. Monitoring:
    At the beginning of each year you should review and discuss your individual development needs with your supervisors and target relevant opportunities offered by the Graduate School and other units across the University and beyond. At each subsequent supervisory meeting, you will have the opportunity to talk about your progress against the goals you have set for yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What do I do if I miss a core compulsory course or can’t make the date?

    If there is sufficient demand to repeat a course, core or optional, in the second semester, we’ll do our best to create an additional instance. So that we can judge demand, please add your name to the relevant course waiting list to register your interest in a repeat instance. It might be viable for you to attend the course in the next academic year (if appropriate, timing-wise) or alternatively, the majority of the above courses run on the Graduate School’s Researcher Development Programme (RDP), attended by research students from all faculties so you can book onto the parallel session on the RDP. There are also additional courses offered on the RDP, as well as additional provision from the Library, IT, Careers, Academic Support, etc—so whatever your training need, just search for the course name or a keyword on Short Courses).
  2. What do I do if a course is fully booked?

    Please add your name to the relevant Arts course waiting list (on Short Courses) to register your interest. It may be that we are able to move the course to a larger room and then we will contact you to offer you a place. If we aren’t able to move to a larger room, once the waiting list reaches a critical mass, we’ll schedule another course instance and contact you.
  3. Can I opt out of a core course?

    Yes. The number of core (compulsory) courses was reconsidered and reduced accordingly after the last Programme Review but if you feel that you have grounds for being opted out of a core course (i.e. because you already have demonstrable experience or expertise in that area or have completed the course before), you should talk to your supervisors as soon as possible. If they are in agreement, one of your supervisors can opt you out – they must confirm this by sending an email to with details of the course(s) and reason for exemption.
  4. I’m doing an MPhil/MRes/MA or MSc by Research – should I attend the core (compulsory) courses too?

    The Arts Programme is geared more towards PhD/doctoral students but you are welcome to attend the core (and optional) courses that you and your supervisors deem relevant. Because your research degree programme is different to and shorter than that of a doctoral student, you may find some of the courses less applicable to you, e.g. Preparing for the viva. We would advise you to be more strategic and attend only the courses that will aid your progress within and beyond your Masters. If you’re not sure how to work that out, come to ‘Starting out as a researcher’ where we’ll take you through the Development Needs Analysis process and this will allow you to formulate a plan for the year. If you are intending to continue onto a PhD programme, you may decide to defer your attendance on the Arts Programme until then so you can apply the knowledge and skills acquired more fully.
  5. I have some feedback—where should I send it?

    The Arts Researcher Skills Programme evolves every year based on student and tutor feedback (as well as adhering to any University-wide changes or amendments to the AHRC Research Training Framework), so we’re always keen to hear from you. The Arts Programme is reviewed at the end of each year, either by a mini-review or every four years by a more comprehensive review, so you will be invited to feed back on the courses you've attended and the overall programme. If there's anything that can't wait until then, please speak to Eleanor at one of the courses or send her an email

Social Sciences & Arts Graduate Centre

The University of Nottingham
B floor, Highfield House
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

Tel: +44 (0115) 748 4430