Postgraduate Researcher Development Committee

Shortcuts: Purpose | Terms of Reference | Membership | Mode of OperationMeeting Dates

The Postgraduate Researcher Development Committee (PGRDC) is a sub-committee of the University Graduate Studies Committee, which itself reports to University Education Committee.


The key purposes of the Committee are to:

  1. ensure the PPD (Personal and Professional Development) Programme for PGRs reflects the needs of all postgraduate research students, supporting the development of PGRs at all stages of the student lifecycle;
  2. ensure that due consideration is given to the requirements of PGRs with specific needs such as those:
    • with non-standard start dates
    • who are not located on / near campus
    • who are registered part-time  or as a visiting student
    • with accessibility or health (including mental health) issues
    • with caring responsibilities
    • who’s first language is not English
    • who are primarily based outside of the University (for example at another HEI, research organisation, or corporate / industry / other collaborative partner);
  3. ensure central provision reflects the needs of faculties, schools and doctoral training entities (DTEs), by supplementing local faculty / school / DTE programmes and complementing specialist or subject-specific provision;
  4. ensure that the PPD programme meets requirements of funding bodies (such as RCUK), external sponsors, and potential employers;
  5. ensure a high quality and consistent user experience, better aligning processes and systems across providers;
  6. endorse the use of the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF), developing guidance and resources to enable faculties, schools and DTEs to make effective use of the Vitae RDF in evaluating the content of their own programmes.

Terms of reference

Strategic planning:

1. To provide an overview of recommendations by funding bodies and external sponsors and based on that, to develop an institutional Researcher Development Strategy.

2. To develop a consistent and sustainable approach for the support of Bristol’s PPD Programme for PGRs.

3. To monitor programme delivery, ensuring alignment with the PPD priorities of each provider.

4. To identify long-term aims and evaluate potential for investment in key development areas such as: funding and sponsorship; corporate / industry engagement; shared multi-institution training.

5. To provide a focal point for academic and professional services staff and PGR students to bring researcher development issues for discussion and decision-making.

6. To maintain awareness of any national changes or requirements in researcher development (e.g. RCUK Statement of Expectations for Postgraduate Training, and the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers) and communicate these accordingly to relevant stakeholders.


7. Ensure that the central PPD programme for PGRs offers comprehensive provision across all domains and sub-domains of the Vitae RDF, responding to additional bespoke demands or specific needs as they arise.

8. Monitor and review user engagement and feedback across all providers to ensure that the content of the programme is maintained at a high standard, and addresses the needs of all PGR students.

9. Ensure that the PPD programme for PGRs is comparable with other Russell Group universities, utilising GW4 partnerships on a consultative basis.

10. Oversee formal annual review of central PPD programme for PGRs, reporting outcomes to UGSC.

Operational planning:

11. Oversee and ensure coordinated management of day-to-day operations across all central providers and members of the PG Researcher Development Network in line with the academic cycle.

12. Ensure that the access needs of all users are considered including international and ‘non-standard’ PGR students.

13. Establish a unified approach to gathering feedback and monitoring engagement with the PPD programme for PGRs.

14. Ensure effective integration with, and support of, the PPD programme for PGRs via existing University systems (such as OnCourse and STaR), and make recommendations on institutional system development.

15. Define a University endorsed ‘needs analysis’ method to enable students to assess their own development needs against the Vitae RDF and provide guidance for schools and supervisors in supporting this process.


The membership of the Committee for 2016-17 is as follows:

Mode of operation

1. The Committee will meet 3 times per year with day-to-day oversight devolved to the proposed PG Researcher Development Network.

2. Each meeting of the Committee will focus on one of the key areas of the ToRs to tie in with the academic cycle: e.g. April-May (Review), Aug-Sept (Operational planning), Jan-Feb (Strategic planning).

Meeting dates for 2016/17