Skip to main content

"The training in presentation skills has been really useful and I feel much more confident talking in front of people" - Josh

More videos »

I applied for a PhD as, towards the end of my degree, I became passionate about my Master's research project. I was drawn to XM2 because of its cohort-based approach and the training it provides in preparation for a career that may be outside of academia. I particularly enjoy having the opportunity to regularly interact with senior academic staff and always find this insightful.

Harry Penketh, Cohort 2016

Transferrable skills

The topics below are an indicative list of subject areas you can expect to cover based on current teaching. Please note that this is subject to change from year to year.

In the bi-monthly Beyond-a-PhD series (a mandatory activity for students in the CDT), visiting speakers from a variety of industrial and academic research environments will give insights into the myriad of career pathways open to a doctoral graduate in science and engineering.

The speakers outline their careers, what challenges they faced along the way, and how they tackled these challenges. How did their PhD training benefit their subsequent roles, what did they had to learn on the job, and was there something they wished they had done differently or known before?

The talks are open to all PGRs and postdocs in the College. The series' aim is to demonstrate the broad range of options that lie beyond the PhD and to provide networking opportunities with potential role models to learn from their experiences.

Previous speakers include:

  • Dr Jade Phillips (Research and Development Ingredient Specialist at Jacobs Douwe Egberts)
  • Dr Laura Stoica (Piezoelectric Materials Research Manager at Thales UK)
  • Dr Celia Butler (Senior Applications Engineer at Synopsys)
  • Dr Elena Ginina (Head of Data Science at Centre for Virtual Reality and Visualisation (VRVis), Vienna)
  • Prof John Bessant (Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at University of Exeter)
  • Dr Ben Masheder (Innovation Specialist at Business West)
  • Dr Emma Newton (Team Lead of Novel Materials at QinetiQ)
  • Dr James Claverley (Science Governance Co-ordinator at National Physical Laboratory (NPL))
  • Dr Chris Maynard (High Performance Computing Software Specialist at Met Office)
  • Dr Richard Watts (Chief Investment Officer for BMO Global Asset Management)
  • Dr Nina Meinzer (Associate Editor at Nature Communications)
  • Dr Rob Kelly (Teacher at Okehampton College)




Cognitive Behavioural Coaching is available for each cohort. These optional meetings are aimed at strengthening academic adaptability and problem-solving commonly experienced obstacles to progression. You will receive a mandatory introductory session during the Autumn term of your first year.

You will engage in two creativity sessions, led by Skillfluence. The first session will take place during Induction Week, the second session at the start of year 4.

We set up a variety of events for our PGRs to engage with industry partners and gain further business understanding on a regular basis:

  • They receive training in commercial awareness and entrepreneurship via Spin Up Science's SPARK training session.
  • We run an annual mentorship scheme programme for CDT PGRs with the industrial Advisory Board members.
  • Conduct on-site group visits to industrial collaborators throughout the study programme. These visits provide an opportunity to gain insight to research and career pathways at potential employers.
  • In addition, we host annual careers events with research and HR representatives from industial partners. These events provide a platform for companies to introduce their research and recruitment processes through talks and networking sessions, and offer an opportunity to CDT PGRs and other interested early career researchers (PGRs and Postdocs) to learn about potential roles and to create direct links with the company representatives.

To help you prepare for the next step in your career, this two-day course, delivered by VOX Coaching, will give you an insight into the assessment criteria used by selection panels and make sure that you are ready to give your best in interview situations.

The one-day leadership training course, run by Skillfluence, takes place in the third year of the programme, and is designed to help you recognise different management styles and explore ideas in effective leadership.

The LTHE programme introduces the underlying principles and practical methods of effective learning and assessment in higher education, and forms the minimum requirement to teach undergraduates. Students may also undertake Stage 2 later on in the PhD programme.

This two-hour course is run by the Doctoral College as part of their Researcher Development Programme

This two-day course, run by Fistral Training and Consultancy Ltd, provides a comprehensive introduction to the process of managing projects and the tools to assist in planning and tracking progress.

Part of our training programme is learning how to engage the wider public with science and research. This can be achieved through participation at science fairs, in external outreach schemes such as CoachBright or the Brilliant Club, collaborating with local schools to share knowledge and introduce research challenges, or through social media.

This two-day course, delivered by Vox Coaching, will boost your ability to interact with others in a confident, engaging and authentic manner. It will help to ensure that your communication skills match your expertise, whether you’re appearing in-person or on screen. We’re all needing to adapt to remote working and it’s more vital than ever to understand the unique requirements and potential of video calls, distance collaboration and online teamworking.

You’ll gain valuable insights into authentic communication, interpersonal dynamics and how to network confidently. During these lively, interactive sessions, you will explore your natural communication style, strengthen your physical and vocal presence, and discover techniques for speaking so that others want to listen. You will enhance your ability to establish rapport, to win trust and look at how to adapt your style to suit the context while still being yourself – with an added dash of flair.

The Researcher Development Programme (RDP) is run by the university to provide PhD students, and other early career researchers, with personal and professional development opportunities to enhance your research and employability, in academia or beyond.

The RDP activities are tailored to the needs of postgraduate researchers with courses offered in research management, communications skills, networking and team building, the impact agenda, and personal effectiveness.

In the first year, the course on presentation skills is mandatory. In subsequent years, you must undertake a further 50 hours of RDP courses of your choice and are strongly recommended to consider taking sessions in Career Planning, Research Integrity, Communicating your Research, Confidence and Resilience, Networking, Internationalisation and Research Impact.

As well as workshops, the Researcher Development team have useful online resources, including PGR Careers resource on the Exeter Learning Environment (ELE) and Profiling for Success – an online suite of self-assessment tools that can help you in your personal and career development.

This one-day workshop is delivered by Spin Up Science. Using examples of local technology start-ups, they will explore how researchers and inventors spot ideas for innovation, and how you know if your research might have some real-world application.