skip to content

Department of Social Anthropology


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 postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers might wish to experience and acquire, both for today and/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 Department, and the broader centrally-run resources.

Quick links

Researcher Development Programme

Careers Service

Social Sciences Research Methods Programme (SSRMP)

University Language Centre

Economic & Social Research Council DTP Partnership 


Postgraduate Development Programme

The Department of Social Anthropology is careful to ensure that students gain thorough training in transferable skills during the course of their 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 postgraduates’ professional training.


Research skill development for postdoctoral researchers

The Department 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 Department.


Conference funding

School of the Humanities and Social Sciences researcher development funding for student-led conferences

Through the School’s Researcher Development Fund, funding is made available for PhD students and postdoctoral researchers  in the Department to bid for funds to assist with 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.

The Department has some limited funds to help towards the cost of students attending (and presenting at) conferences through the Henry Ling Roth Conference Award. Students should also apply to their Colleges.


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. 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. Supervisors may keep a record of students’ training needs.
  • 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 Department for such careers. 


Individual support for students

Subject to a Departmental 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. 


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.

The University Careers Service is another important source of advice and guidance.


ESRC DTP Training Partnership for Social Sciences

The ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership for Social Sciences is an interdisciplinary framework for training in the social sciences which runs workshops and other training in the social sciences. Many of these workshops and courses are open to all PhD students.



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.