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    What do researchers do?

    What do researchers do? Early career progression of doctoral graduates (2013) looks at trends in employment for doctoral graduates three years on from their graduation and highlights the major value of doctoral study to researchers, employers and society.

    University of Nottingham Career Support for PhD students

    The Careers and Employability Service has careers guidance for PhD students including:

    • Exploring your skills and career options
    • Career development online courses
    • Information about academic careers
    • Information about careers outside academia
    • Applying for academic jobs
    • Applying for jobs outside academia
    • Careers advice
    • Events

    Beyond the PhD - a Careers website for PhD students

    The Centre for Career Management Skills (CCMS) at the University of Reading has launched Beyond the PhD: a career resource tailored specifically for arts and humanities PhD researchers. Beyond the PhD is a good place to explore possible career paths within and outside academia and brings together audio interviews, video discussions and articles aimed at making visible what happens to postgraduate researchers after they graduate.

    Vitae Resources for PhD Graduates 

    Vitae also has a large database of resources for Research Degree graduates and those looking to build an academic career.

    Opportunities to develop your CV

    Whilst at Nottingham, there are also many opportunities for you to develop your CV. In particular, there are regular PG seminars at which you will be able to discuss your work and the work of other students and academics. PG Seminars deal with help getting your research published, delivering conference papers, applying for funding and pursuing a career in academia.

    The School offers the opportunity for some postgraduate students to teach on certain undergraduate modules and be paid as appropriate. Such teaching can provide a valuable opportunity for career preparation, although opportunities will depend on student demand and individual research specialisms. There are also opportunities for postgraduate students who want additional teaching experience on their CV to help undergraduate seminar Tutors with teaching preparation and delivery

    Postgraduate Placements Nottingham

    Every year, Postgraduate Placements Nottingham (PPN) offers a suite of paid placements with hosts ranging from Hodder & Stoughton to Broadway Cinema and Media Centre. These are offered to students across the University, who are undertaking Postgraduate Study (a Masters degree or PhD). The placements offered a great opportunity for students to develop their skills in a work context and run throughout the year. They can be full-time placements for 3 months, or part-time projects (one day per week) for around 4 months. 

    Further information can be found on the PPN webpages.

    Students who have completed placements have said the following: 

    ‘The most valuable gain has been meeting people working in other areas of the culture industry who have allowed me to see other possible future careers.'

    ‘This placement will help me put together a CV that will allow me to apply for a range of positions in the academic, archival and curatorial arenas.'

    ‘I was assigned really hands-on practical tasks, which was unlike other placements I have done where the work tends to be admin-related. This meant that I could fulfil one of my goals for the placement of increasing my confidence as a communicator in a range of settings.' 

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    Social Sciences and Arts Graduate Centre Skills Development

    The Social Sciences and Arts Graduate Centre (SSAGC) organises a programme of training in areas including: archives; footnotes; use of images; CV development; applying for jobs; surviving the viva; writing for journals; review-writing. The skills-development programme is largely led by academics from the Faculty with years of experience in these areas. If you have any ideas for other sessions that would be beneficial, please e-mail

    SSAGC supports your onward journey into employment in a number of ways. They often host seminars run by industry professionals which might talk about pathways into specific areas such as publishing or Higher Education. Please keep checking their Careers web pages for updates. 

    Students who have attended training sessions have said: 

    ‘It was useful to hear about people’s personal experiences’. 

    ‘Superb. It was an excellent panel who were very open and engaged with the topic and spoke extremely well’. 

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    When applying for jobs, courses, and other opportunities, you will likely be asked to provide the names and contact details of people who can provide you with a reference. A reference is a recommendation where the referee vouches for your qualifications, skills, and suitability for the opportunity that you are applying for. Academic members of staff in the School of English regularly receive such reference requests and consider it part of their role to complete these for students. However, please note the following points:

    If you wish to ask a member of staff to act on your behalf as a referee, you MUST contact them in writing at least two weeks in advance of the reference deadline. This is partly to comply with data protection policy, as academic members of staff will be unable to write you a reference unless you obtain their WRITTEN permission beforehand (e.g. by email) to act as a referee. For each reference, you must also give your referee your written consent to disclose data about you. This is particularly important if you wish your referee to mention any periods of suspension or ill health.

    It is expected that you should go to your Personal Tutor or main PhD Supervisor for a reference in the first instance. Your Personal Tutor/Supervisor can comment on overall academic performance and provide general information. For UG and PGT students, for more subject-specific applications, you may additionally request that a particular academic member of staff provides you with a reference, but should note that staff are not obliged to provide a reference for students who are not one of their Tutees/PhD students and, at very busy times of year, it may not be possible for them to do so.

    If you plan to make a number of applications, you MUST gain permission to name a particular member of staff for each one: you should detail each opportunity that you are applying for (though you may request a reference for more than one opportunity at a time), and should not assume consent in the future because it has been granted at some point in the past. It is suggested that you offer some explanation of why you are making the application that you are, mentioning aspects of your experience at University that it might be relevant for your referee to highlight in their reference. You should also let your referee have an up-to-date copy of your CV for use when writing their reference for you.

    If you are a UG or PGT student and intend to apply for a postgraduate programme of study, please be advised that it is far better to submit one well-written application, tailored to the institution that is the best fit for your interests, than to apply for several diverse programmes at once. If you do plan to make a number of applications, please also be advised that it is unlikely staff will be able to write multiple individual references, each of which is tailored to a specific programme.

    In academic references, staff are usually asked to comment not only on a student’s academic performance (e.g. marks awarded, quality of written work) but their overall professionalism; this includes such qualities as punctuality, personal organisation, and reliability. You are therefore advised to do all that you can in your interaction with all staff in the School, throughout your time studying here, to ensure that staff can comment favourably on these aspects. Please also note that, if staff do not have evidence of particular qualifications or skills relevant to the application being made, they will not comment on them in their reference.

    If you are required to complete an online form as part of your application, which will then be sent on to your referee for them to complete their part, you MUST complete all relevant personal information first. Your referee will not do this for you. 

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