What is the DDP?

Find out more about the Doctoral Development Programme (DDP) at the University of Sheffield.



The Doctoral Development Programme (DDP) is a programme of personalised training and development for all PGR students at the University of Sheffield. Although engaging with the DDP is a mandatory requirement, we recognise the diversity of academic and professional experiences, research projects and career aspirations present within our PGR community. This is why the DDP is designed to be flexible and tailored to a student's specific development needs. The DDP is also meant to complement the natural progression of a student's research, with evaluation of DDP documentation built into existing key milestones in the student journey. 

By engaging with the DDP, our PGR students will gain and enhance the skills needed to:

  • successfully complete their research project 

  • become a world-class researcher

  • reflect on their personal and professional development

  • increase their future employability 

  • get the most out of their PGR study and experience at Sheffield

Core competencies

The DDP framework for development focuses on demonstration of eight Core Competencies.  The core competencies have been selected based on feedback from academics, funders and industry, and thus encompass skills which are highly valued in doctoral graduates across a range of sectors. They are:

  1. Communication, networking and collaboration.

  2. Personal skills (time management, resilience, problem-solving, critical thinking).

  3. Professional skills (academic defence, academic writing, project/resource management).

  4. Leadership

  5. Ownership and understanding of the scope for career development options.

  6. Understanding the importance of impact and translation (public engagement, enterprise and IP).

  7. Responsible Research and Innovation, ethics and data management.

  8. Qualitative skills and/or quantitative and digital skills depending on discipline.

Key components of the DDP

Training Needs Analysis (TNA). Based on eight core competencies, the TNA is a tool to help students identify their technical and personal development needs and consider how and when to address these. 

Development Plan. This is a document informed by the TNA and the demands of the student's research programme. It may include formal training, informal training or experiential learning, and will set out which core competencies they will address alongside any actions needed. 

Research Ethics & Integrity Training. Compulsory ethics training is provided by Faculties. Depending on which department the student is in, they may also need to complete compulsory subject-specific modules. 

Training and development opportunities. Students should engage with appropriate training and development opportunities as identified in their TNA and development plan. 

DDP summary. This is the principal means by which a student's progress on the DDP is monitored. Submission of the DDP summary is a regulatory requirement and an opportunity to reflect on development and training over the course of their programme.  It is signed by their supervisor and then submitted to Research Services for Faculty approval. 

Successful completion of DDP.  Faculty leads review DDP summaries and make a judgement about whether the evidence provided fulfils the University standards. If approved, the student will receive a copy of their DDP signed and stamped by Faculty as confirmation that they have fully completed their DDP. Completion of compulsory modules will also be confirmed.

Contact us

You can email the DDP team on ddpenquiries@sheffield.ac.uk