The ESRC is committed to the development of highly capable and innovative researchers, who are equipped for a wide range of careers and able to contribute to the broader economy and society.

Like all our research students, our ESRC scholars follow a programme of core and advanced research training throughout their doctoral studies. Each of our 23 pathways has specific requirements and expectations, but all comply with the ESRC’s 2015 research training guidelines.

Working with your supervisory team, you will identify your training and professional development needs. Carrying out a regular TNA (Training Needs Analysis) you will create a tailored plan designed to meet these needs over the full length of your doctoral life course.

As a student in the Grand Union DTP you will be able to take advantage of a mixture of pathway-specific, university-wide and online training opportunities across all 3 institutions. The dedicated training websites at Brunel, The OU and Oxford list courses and resources covering the four domains of the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF), including research design and methods, communication, entrepreneurship, research integrity, digital literacy, project and data management, fieldwork, collaboration, Knowledge Exchange, research leadership and cultural competencies.

Training is offered in both face-to-face and online formats, allowing you to pursue opportunities as appropriate for your own course of study. Students are encouraged to share their own expertise and access to cohort funds will enable students to design and deliver training, seminars, workshops and conferences where appropriate.

Training Resources

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Information about training available at Brunel may be found on the University's Researcher Development pages.


Information about training available at The Open University may be found on the University's Training and Development pages.

A site has also been created on the OU's intranet for DTP students which lists useful resources and training opportunities.

Headline learning topics:

  • What is a PhD? (incl. The supervisory relationship)
  • Starting your research (incl. Scoping your research, Research questions, Approaches to research)
  • Organising your research (incl. Project planning, Time management, Skills audit and PDP, Research data management)
  • Literature review (incl. Reviewing academic literature, Writing a literature review, Developing academic literacy)
  • Professional Academic Communication in English (PACE)
  • Professional conduct (incl. Ethics, Risk assessment, Health & Safety in the Lab, Health & safety for fieldwork and travel)
  • Teaching skills (Skills and learning outcomes in HE; Small group work; Learning theory, diversity and inclusion)
  • Intellectual property
  • Career development (Enhance your employability, Finding employment after a PhD, CVs, Job interviews)
  • OU Student-authored (Employability and job-hunting, Hardware and software, Wellbeing and mental health, Practical advice on the supervisory relationship).

Email for access to OU online training material.


A wide range of training opportunities are available in research methods and professional development for doctoral students. Details can be found on the Social Sciences training website.

Training Needs Analysis (TNA)

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We expect our ESRC scholars to develop a personalised plan for developing the research and leadership skills they need.  

What is a Training Needs Analysis (TNA)?

Throughout your degree, you are encouraged to reflect and think strategically about your ongoing development as a researcher. From 2017, the ESRC requires that all students must complete a training needs analysis on an annual basis as a condition of their studentships. This will help you work with your supervisor to develop bespoke training and development objectives each year.