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Transferable Skills for Postgraduate Students

Melissa Santana de Oliveira - A Desana woman, Northwest Amazonia


Researcher Development encompasses all of the learning and development –personal, professional, career-related, academic, entrepreneurial, transferable– that our graduate students and postdoctoral researchers might wish to experience and acquire, both for today andy or the future. A great many of these skills will be developed through the everyday business of conducting research, such as specific research techniques or methods for analysing data.

The Researcher Development programme is intended to offer opportunities for the development of skills which are not offered as part of the normal training and supervision you receive.

This page is intended to be a valuable resource for all researchers working in Social Anthropology, and bring together all the available resources and opportunities for development within both the discipline-specific offering of the Division, and the broader centrally-run resources.

Quick Links

Researcher Development programme
Career Service
Social Sciences Research Methods Centre (SSRMC)
University Language Centre
Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)


On this page:

Research Skill Development for Postgraduate Students

Research Skill Development for Postdoctoral Researchers

Conference Funding

Ongoing Activities

Events Organized by the Division

Central Provision



Research Skill Development for Postgraduate Students

The Division of Social Anthropology is careful to ensure that students gain thorough training in transferable skills during the course of its research degree. Thus, students gain experience in generalisable research skills (problem definition; research design; writing research proposals/grant applications; data analysis; modes of presenting results), environment and management, individual as well as group communication and presentational skills, networking and teamwork, research ethics, personal effectiveness through the mechanisms of individual study in close discussion with a supervisor, and through the extensive course of research and fieldwork training undertaken in the first year.

We note that many transferable skills are an entrance requirement for postgraduate study, and thus present on commencement. Where our students feel the need to develop their skills in any of these areas further we strongly encourage them to do so using the full range of courses available through the School. We also recognise with appreciation that many Colleges also offer services (such as writing skills workshops) which complement our graduates’ professional training.


Research Skill Development for Postdoctoral Researchers

The Division of Social Anthropology is keen to ensure that its research staff continue to develop their skills and would encourage post docs to make use of the centrally-organised events as well as those run by the Division.


Conference Funding

Through the School’s Researcher Development Fund, the division has some funds available to assist PhD students and postdoctoral researchers in organising a conference or workshop. The idea is to give PhD students/postdoc researchers an opportunity to develop their ‘transferable skills’ of organising, budgeting, networking, and presentation.

Funds are limited, and the amount allocated will depend upon the number and quality of applications that we receive, but as a guide, it is unlikely to amount to more than £500, and may be considerably less. If you would like to apply for this financial support, please send a 1-2 page summary of the conference/workshop theme, any proposed speakers, and a budget, to the Graduate Administrator (graduate-secretary[at] by Friday 4th December 2015.

Informal enquiries can be sent to Dr David Sneath (ds114[at]

NB Conferences funded from this call need to take place before the end of September 2016.


Ongoing Activities

Students are encouraged to attend the various personal and career development courses run by the Joint Schools and the University, according to their own needs. When students attend any of the courses, we ask them to inform us of their attendance and then note it on their files. These courses are advertised to the students by means of:

  • Posters in the Social Anthropology building
  • Discussion of the courses with the student cohort as a whole, at both pre-fieldwork level and post-fieldwork level.
  • Discussions with their supervisors. Where supervisors note down students’ training needs, such notes are held on the student’s individual file in the dept.
  • Individual Skills Development meetings with one or more members of the PhD committee soon after return from the field, with the aim of identifying any specific skills training required. This meeting helps to develop Career Management skills, without creating excessively high expectations of future academic careers and of direct support from the Division for such careers. The notes from this meeting are held on students’ files.

Individual support for students

Subject to a divisional application process (via the PhD committee), we support students who wish to:

  • Undertake language classes
  • Attend courses elsewhere in the UK that develop their transferable skills.

We support the Cambridge University Social Anthropology Society (CUSAS), by means of a small grant to fund the organisation of seminars and other events throughout the year. This helps foster organisational skills, but most particularly networking and teamworking skills across the postgraduate student population.
For the post-fieldwork students: We provide financial support for the students to organise graduate conferences, thus developing organisational, networking and presentation skills, and so on. Students’ roles in organising such events are noted on their files.


Events Organised by the Division

The division is planning the following event in the 2016-17 academic year.

Michaelmas Term 2016

Statistics for Anthropologists

Dr David Sneath/Dr Zsolt Lavicza

Time: 27 October (11am - 2pm) and 3 November (10am - 1pm)

Place: Seminar Room and Phoenix Teaching Room 1 respectively

This workshop of two sessions is intended for MRes students, Pre-Field PhD students, and any other interested PhD students. It aims to provide an introduction to statistics, statistical methodologies and SPSS software: to present you with some important concepts and methods, familiarise you with appropriate terminology and give you the information necessary to identify any further training you think you may need. It will start at an introductory level and move at the pace of the group, so is very much designed with your needs as social anthropology PhD students in mind.

First year PhD and MRes students are expected to attend, however other researchers interested in attending should contact the Graduate Administrator (


Central Provision

Transferable skills training aimed specifically at Humanities and Social Science postgraduates is provided through a School-wide programme of courses and events which run throughout the academic year. Skill areas covered by these courses include:

  • Presentation Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Time Management
  • Writing Skills
  • Preparation for the Viva
  • Planning & Project Management
  • Publishing
  • Effective reading (speed reading)
  • Negotiation skills
  • Stress Management

For up-to-date details of the skills training available to you please consult the transferable skills pages of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences website.

Please also see the University of Cambridge Transferable Skills Training Portal for its graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. The aim of the programme is to help you, as a researcher, broaden your horizons above and beyond the focus of your research work and to provide you with some key skills for your future career, whatever that may be.



We gather feedback from students and post docs regarding their own perception of their skills-training needs. Subject to demand, we organise specific courses on an ad hoc basis each year. The activities we are able to run are largely dependent on the availability of funding and suitable instructors. If you have any suggestions for activities, please let us know.