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Graduate Training Programme

Graduate Training Programme

Doing a PhD isn't just about your research; it's also about gaining new skills and further developing old ones which will be useful down the line, whether you stay in research or move into another career. The Graduate Training Programme in Zoology is comprised of the following compulsory and optional elements:



The Department and Graduate School of Life Sciences require students to engage in transferable skills training


Researcher Development and Core Skills Training Programme (CSTP)

What is Researcher Development?

Researcher Development (RD) encompasses all of the learning and development that you acquire and apply during your time in Cambridge. It will provide you with the skills and experiences that you need as a professional researcher, both today for your degree, and for the future, whatever that might be!

The Cambridge Researcher Development Framework (CamRDF) presents these skills as 15 core competencies. You can use the CamRDF to explore why these skills are helpful for a researcher, understand what they look like in the real world and point you towards how you can further develop them.

The Core Skills Training Programme (CSTP)

The Graduate School of Life Sciences (GSLS) has developed a Core Skills Training Programme (CSTP), which you are strongly recommended to complete in your first year. Completing the CSTP will ensure that you are informed of the range of RD opportunities available in Cambridge and provide the foundational skills in personal effectiveness and scientific communication that are essential for progression.

You will be enrolled onto the CSTP Introductory Moodle in early October, which can be accessed from your dashboard at with your Raven login. This will provide you with all the information you need about the components of the CSTP. The first is the online Skills Analysis Survey, which introduces you to the CamRDF, helps you identify your training needs, and allows you to create a personal development plan. The other components will be available from November and you will receive regular updates by email.

Completing the CSTP

Completion of the CSTP is sufficient for the training requirements that are assessed in your First Year Report.  We will track your engagement, update your department on your progress and present you with a certificate when you finish the CSTP. You should also maintain a training log of other activities that contribute to your professional development, and be aware of any department-specific requirements.

Other RD Opportunities

The Researcher Development Programme ( is your first stop in finding out more about RD in Cambridge, including information about other providers. The Graduate School of Life Sciences also runs specific events for life scientists throughout the year. If you want to know more or have any questions you should contact Dr Ben Murton (, who is responsible for RD in the Life Sciences. There is a one-to-one consultation service available for all GSLS members.


Finding Courses

 The Graduate School of Life Sciences puts on a wide range of transferable skills courses which cover career planning, communication skills, IT skills and other general topics, and other institutions within the University also put on courses, including the Careers Service and the Computing Service.

You can find full details of courses on the Graduate SchoolPersonal and Professional Development and University Training websites, including an introductory workshop on Research Data Management.  Really though, you should attend anything you think sounds interesting or useful.

Depending on where you get your funding from you may also be able to go on external courses supported by your funding body. Notable external courses include Vitae's UK GRADSchools, a popular personal development and careers course. This intensive course on Programming for Evolutionary Biology has also been found to be very useful.