About Personal Development Planning (PDP)

What is PDP?
Why is PDP important?
What's in it for me?
What do I need to do?
PDP feedback

What is PDP?

Personal Development Planning (PDP) is about making the most of your experiences at University, and planning for your future. We’re all different, so for you this might mean a whole range of things – from developing your personal skills and confidence, taking up a new activity or planning your first steps on a chosen career path.

Access to your student record, a ‘structured and supported’ process of PDP and an opportunity to create records to support your personal development together make up what is known as a ‘Progress File’ – a set of entitlements that all universities have to provide for their students.

Why is PDP important?

If you engage seriously in PDP, you should be better equipped to: 

  • identify your personal goals, and work towards them.
  • ‘transfer’ skills you are developing to new situations.
  • become more effective, independent and confident in your approach to your studies and employability.
  • articulate your strengths and competencies to others.

What's in it for me?

The benefits of PDP can be:

  • personal - increasing your confidence in who you are, what you believe and what you want to achieve.
  • academic - identifying what it takes to help you learn effectively, what you'd like to achieve academically and how you're going to get there.
  • social - building your awareness of others and the importance of different team roles.
  • professional - helping you to be more strategic in developing skills for employability.

Awareness of personal strengths and weaknesses, and a demonstrable ability to learn from experience and to plan for future actions, are highly valued by employers looking for top calibre graduates. 

Recording your achievements and setting yourself action plans can therefore help to prepare you for job interviews as well as other professional situations, such as Professional Development Reviews (PDR) which you are likely to encounter in life beyond university.

What do I need to do?

Your College Office will be able to advise you on how PDP is undertaken within your programme.  You may be asked to review your overall progress in the context of a module; you'll also be asked to attend meetings with your personal tutor.  The important thing, though, is to think about the transferable skills you're developing, and to come prepared for a discussion with him/her about (i) what you've achieved so far and (ii) what targets you might set yourself for further improvement. 

The University offers an online tool (ePDP) for creating records of your personal development and sharing them with your personal tutor.   This and the other resources available from this website will help you make the most of the PDP process.

By updating your ePDP pages regularly, you will also be helping your personal tutor to get to know you better. This can be particularly useful if, in the future, you request a reference.

PDP feedback

What students say about PDP

"PDP is about stopping to reflect on how everything is going - be it academically, socially or in terms of job prospects. The personal tutor will have a wide range of knowledge and can illuminate opportunities and services which you may not know exist. PDP can be a useful tool in highlighting areas which can be improved and opening up new opportunities." Llywelyn Morris, Students' Guild Education Officer, 2009-10

"My tutor spends time going through [my PDP] with regards to my grades (and how I can improve) and career (what I’ve accomplished in work experience and what still needs doing). I am also aware that keeping her up-to-date with PDP is an excellent way of keeping her informed enough about me to write a good reference.

"Employers are looking for a rounded person, they’re not just looking for a degree. The degree nowadays is increasingly a requirement; what’s more important is how graduates develop their skills."

What academic staff say about PDP

"PDP is a way for students to think about and reflect on their progress and development and to engage with their tutors in a structured way which they probably haven’t had the opportunity to do before." Juliette Stephenson, Personal Development Tutor, University of Exeter Business School

"PDP can help students work towards their own career development, and puts an emphasis on thinking harder and deeper about the skills associated with it." Dr Rod Wilson, Biosciences, University of Exeter

What employers say about PDP

"I think there's a new skill, and that's the importance of being able to manage your own learning, and your own career. Employers will help, but I think today they recognise it's the individual who must take that responsibility." Carl Gilleard, CEO, The Association of Graduate Recruiters

"We require students who can demonstrate that they have not only performed well throughout their academic career, but also developed their skill set outside of it and will stand out from their peers." Accenture