What is the Doctoral Development Programme?

Find out more about the aims and objectives of the DDP, and how engaging with the programme will benefit you.



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 your own development needs.

By engaging with the DDP, you will gain and enhance the skills needed to:

  • successfully complete your research project 
  • become a world-class researcher
  • reflect on your personal and professional development
  • increase your future employability 
  • get the most out of your PGR study and experience at Sheffield

What is the DDP, and what's so great about it?

The DDP....

...is flexible and tailored to you - whatever training or skills you develop and wherever you complete these things, they are relevant.

...will add value to your PGR experience, enhance your personal and professional development and improve your skills as a researcher. 

...is great for your career aspirations. Whether you are looking to stay in academia or pursue a career in another sector, engagement with the DDP should prepare you for the next stage of your professional development.

...should complement the natural progression of your research and evaluation of DDP documentation is built into key milestones in your student journey. The forms are concise and user-friendly, and your supervisor and the DDP team are available to answer any questions you may have. 

...is an opportunity for self-reflection. By fully engaging with the DDP, you will get the most out of your PGR study and experience at Sheffield

...is for all PGR students, not just PhD students. This includes MPhil, staff candidates, distance learning students, most CDT students, those on integrated programmes and other special doctorates. Only a very small number of exemptions apply.

...is a regulatory requirement of your PGR study. You must engage with it and provide evidence of this in order to be awarded your degree. We have made the DDP compulsory because, through extensive consultation with PGRs, we believe the DDP and the eight core competencies provide the best framework with which to demonstrate the skills and experience you have developed during your studies.

Find answers to more frequently-asked questions about the DDP

Key components of the DDP

Training Needs Analysis (TNA). Based on eight core competencies, the TNA is a tool to help you identify your technical and personal development needs and consider how and when to address these. Discussed and agreed with your supervisor, the TNA should be viewed as a living document which will inform your personal development plan.

Development Plan. This is a document informed by the TNA and the demands of your research programme. It may include formal training, informal training or experiential learning, and will set out which core competencies you will address alongside any actions needed. Agreed by your supervisor, it should be reviewed and updated annually. 

Research Ethics & Integrity Training. Compulsory ethics training is provided by your Faculty. Depending on which department you are in, you may also need to complete compulsory subject-specific modules and/or training. 

Training and development opportunities. You should engage with appropriate training and development opportunities as identified through your TNA and development plan. Remember to keep a record of these - it will help you when you come to write your DDP summary.

DDP summary. This will be either an Evidencing Development summary or ePortfolio, depending on when you started your PGR studies (more below). The principal means by which your progress on the DDP is monitored, submission of your DDP summary is a regulatory requirement and an opportunity to reflect on your development and training over the course of your programme.  It is signed by your supervisor and then submitted to Research, Partnerships and Innovation (RPI) for Faculty approval. 

Successful completion of DDP.  Your Faculty lead will review your DDP summary and make a judgement about whether the evidence you have provided fulfils the University standards. If approved, you will receive a copy of your DDP signed and stamped by Faculty as confirmation that you have fully completed your DDP. At this point, RPI) will also check with your department that all other compulsory elements of the DDP have been met, e.g. completion of the Faculty ethics and integrity training and any compulsory departmental modules. Your summary cannot be presented to Faculty without these core modules having been completed.

What you need to do 

What you will need to submit as evidence of your DDP will be slightly different depending on when you commenced your PGR studies.

How to get the most out of your DDP

Think creatively. Be open to development opportunities that might arise during your research, both inside and outside the University. For example, this could be attending conferences and meetings, publishing work, getting involved in outreach programmes, undertaking teaching and presenting, engaging with the careers service, acting as a PGR rep and making use of work experience or mentoring opportunities.

Don't over-stretch yourself. It might be tempting to sign up to lots of modules and training opportunities in your first year. However, be choosy and only select things that will help you to develop. As a guideline we advise no more than 100 hours of training and development per year.

Keep a record of everything you do. This will help you when you come to submit your DDP summary.

Don't leave it to the last minute. Submission of your DDP summary is a mandatory requirement and we cannot award your degree until it has been approved by your Faculty. We therefore recommend that you submit your DDP summary at around at around two to three months before the end of your normal registration period (or four to six months if you're a part time student).

Contact us

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