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All Researcher Development Programme (RDP) courses

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Being Assertive: Making Yourself Heard Thu 21 Feb 2019   14:00 Finished

Research can be fraught with the challenges of working with others - whether your supervisor or PI or your colleagues – and the challenge of asserting yourself appropriately.

Why this course might make a difference
The overall purpose of this practical workshop is to help you develop your assertive communication skills, to enhance your everyday interactions with others.

With this in mind, the course seeks to help you develop:

  • An assertive mindset
  • Practical strategies for developing your assertiveness

Previous feedback:

“It was dynamic, provided a high level of interaction between trainer and trainees and presented very relevant and thought-provoking ideas.”

“It showed us ways to communicate more effectively with colleagues.”

Giving presentations is an essential skill for a researcher, be it in your deparment, at a major conference, or in your next job interview! You know your subject but sometimes issues of performance and clarity stop you being your best. Perhaps you can't project your voice, perhaps you are terrified of the Q&A, perhaps you feel your slides let you down, or perhaps you just don't know what to do to get better.

This is a highly interactive workshop that requires you to throw yourself into the activities. Everyone will be involved as we apply some of the material from the online Presentation and Performance toolkit and try it out in a safe and supportive environment.

The workshop is especially designed for those who feel less confident with the performance aspects of giving presentations. If you are comfortable standing up and talking in front of others then we recommend starting with the online materials.

Building Resilience and Coping with Setbacks Thu 21 Feb 2019   10:00 Finished

Perhaps because it’s at the meeting point between the known and the unknown, research can seem to be inherently stressful; our good intentions to complete our research can in reality be fraught with setbacks. So how do we cope with these challenges?

Why this course might make a difference
The overall purpose of this two-hour practical workshop is to help you develop your resilience to cope with setbacks in your research.

With this aim in mind, specific outcomes of the course include:

  • Developing your knowledge of the ‘6 Cs’ of emotional resilience: Coping, Commitment, Challenge, Control, Community and (self-)Care
  • Developing your application of these ‘6 Cs’

Previous feedback:
“I like the way the course was thought, it was a good mix of direct teaching, reflection and practical exercises. I think it is really well balanced as it gives you the possibility to reflect on what you are doing and what you could further improve.”

“Provided useful tools and perspectives for dealing with future set backs, and an interesting opportunity for introspection.”

“It highlighted the various support networks there exist to aid me in my PhD.”

Business Awareness for Postdocs new Thu 17 Jan 2019   09:00 Finished

The Researcher Development Programme (RDP), the Research Strategy Office, and the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) are offering this one-day course for Cambridge postdocs who are interested in enhancing their business awareness. It isn’t just for researchers considering setting up their own business or actively pursuing a career in the private sector. With more and more research funding being directed towards collaborations between academia and the commercial world, it’s vital for researchers to understand how businesses operate and the skills they value.

This fun, one-day, interactive course includes 'The Frame Game' to give you a taste of the commercial world. Delivery is by the Institute of Manufacturing's experienced industrial fellows. So, book a place to:-

* Experience how a business works
* Explore a range of key business issues including working with customers, different business models and working as a team
* Develop skills around developing and communicating your research and project

This course complements the supervising training and information your Department will provide. It is a course that consists of: an online module, which introduces practices and principles of undergraduate supervision at Cambridge, and a face-to-face workshop in which you will explore challenges and approaches to supervising.

This workshop is the first session in the mentoring and co-coaching strand which has been designed to enhance the learning and development opportunities of MRC Postdoc Fellows and will be supported by staff from the Researcher Development Programme (RDP). This session provides an opportunity to learn about and experience group coaching within a supportive, safe environment alongside other postdocs on the MRC enhanced training and development programme. We will use tools and techniques to support and facilitate you to coach others in your co-coaching group and be coached to progress your own ideas.


  • Discover how the model of coaching in group situations can support your development.
  • Experience a short term group coaching situation with your new co-coaching group.
  • Identify and agree how you are going to be working as a co-coaching group over the next few years.
Developing Your Leadership as a PhD Student Mon 25 Feb 2019   10:00 Finished

Leadership is a word that seems to be ubiquitous in universities these days, but keeping a handle on all its possible meanings is becoming ever harder: research leadership, team leadership, institutional leadership, thought leadership, educational leadership, ethical leadership, inclusive leadership…

Likewise, employers beyond academia repeatedly tell us that they’re seeking researchers who can be self-motivating, proactive, strategic; can build productive relationships with colleagues at all levels of seniority; are able to create consensus and shared understanding; know how to mentor and guide as well as take direction…

So, if leadership is being talked about everywhere and yet is also very hard to define, how can you as a PhD student identify your own leadership practice and your future potential?

This interactive workshop will combine practical insights with key leadership theories in order to explore the ways in which you’re already acting as a leader; to examine how ‘follower’ behaviours have a crucial role in shaping good leadership; and to consider leadership in a variety of contexts.

The session will be led by Jen Wade, a highly experienced trainer who has been leading her own business for more than ten years, working with a diverse range of organisations across the academic, public, and commercial sectors.


  • Review a range of definitions of, and styles of, leadership.
  • Recognise your current strengths and future potential as a leader.
Effective Researcher (Sciences & Technology) Thu 10 Jan 2019   10:00 Finished

This course is designed for first-year PhD students to help you increase your effectiveness and meet the challenges of your PhD. We cover several different aspects of personal effectiveness in this one-day workshop, with practical solutions to get you started on your journey.


  • Start planning the first year of your PhD
  • Be equipped to manage your relationship with your supervisor
  • Understand how to work effectively with others

The new Emerging Research Leaders’ Development Programme (ERLDP) is designed to support postdocs aspiring to achieve research independence in order to lead a research group and/or become a research leader in any field. This programme is intended for postdoctoral researchers from any discipline who have begun or are about to begin the process of applying for independent research funding and/or established positions. An additional criterion is that you must have 2 years’ experience as a postdoc.

The programme builds on RDP’s leadership workshop series (Postdocs: An Initial Guide to Leadership; Postdocs: Self-Leadership; Postdocs: Leading Others. ), which lay the foundations of leadership for postdocs, and provides a more advanced leadership programme for those wishing to explore and consolidate their leadership practice over a four-month period within a multidisciplinary group. It is an application-only programme to enable a group of participants to work together to explore leadership in different contexts, and apply subsequent learning appropriately within their individual situations, current roles and future leadership positions. This will be a highly participative programme and an active and collaborative contribution to the content will be encouraged throughout.

If you are considering making an application to ERLDP 2019 and have not already attended at least two of RDP’s leadership workshop series for postdocs linked above, we strongly recommend that you sign up to complete these courses in Michaelmas 2018. ERLDP will run from January to April 2019.

The Schools of the Arts & Humanities and the Humanities & Social Sciences have organised this event to help you settle into the Cambridge research environment, identify essential providers of advice and guidance, and make a positive start to your new research project. To hit the ground running, you need a sense of where you’re headed, so the theme of this induction is being strategic right from day one.

You will have chance to hear about information management from the Library, career support from the Careers Service, and personal development opportunities provided by the Researcher Development Programme.

This event is designed to complement other departmental and College inductions which you may have had.

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