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PGR Student Handbook

Research, Training and Skills

It is important that you undertake appropriate research training to help you complete your thesis successfully and in good time. The Business School and Doctoral College are fully committed to research training that is relevant, useful and which contributes to positive outcomes for its students, not least in enhancing your post-thesis employability.

As a research student in the Business School at Exeter you have access to a range of training and development opportunities to help you get the best out of your research and develop professionally. Each new student should discuss and agree their training needs with their supervisor, complete a training needs analysis form online. Once completed, students must download a copy of the form and upload a copy of their form to MyPGR

Existing students, and their supervisors, should keep a close eye on new requirements as they arise and review their Training Needs Analysis form each year, uploading the revised form to MyPGR annually.  Please note that the training needs analysis is intended as a tool for you to log and track your training needs, and how you are addressing these. It is not a mechanism to request training from the College or University and the logging of a particular training need does not mean that this requirement can necessarily be met in the College or the University. The Training Needs Analysis form will be sent to you as part of your induction and is available through this link.

Training Needs Analysis Guidance

We have written a PGR Training Needs Analysis Guidance 2021/2 which confirms the School's expectations for your training, but also gives details about how to complete a skills analysis. There are also suggestions about training opportunities within the School and wider University. 

A range of research methods training is also available through the auditing of masters level modules offered within the College.  These are likely to be especially useful as a source of discipline-related training. Elements from these should be selected as appropriate to complement and complete the student’s training.  Attendance on modules is at the discretion of the module tutor concerned.  Following consultation with their supervisors, students should contact module tutors to arrange attendance. If you have permission from the module convenor to audit a module and would like it to appear on your transcript, you will need to email the PGR Support Office who can add you to the module. Examination for masters level modules is not compulsory for progression as part of the research degree, although may be requested in exceptional circumstances by your supervisor.

Many PGR students audit modules as part of their ongoing research training, but we recommend that students do not audit more than 3 modules each academic year, as the time commitment for modules can take the focus from the research preparation for your thesis. 

The Researcher Development Team within the Doctoral College provides Researcher Development programmes, funded initiatives, interdisciplinary events, resources and career support provide opportunities to enhance your research and employability, to meet others and become part of our vibrant research community. They offer workshops, webinars, online resources, career guidance and funding to help you design your own professional development programme. The programmes aim to enhance the personal and professional skills that are associated with undertaking research projects. The training offered through the Researcher Development Programme cover a lot of different topics such as understanding the Doctoral process, project-management, writing a thesis and presenting a conference paper.  

There are training events specific to both Exeter campus and Cornwall, so you will be able to find courses which are relevant for you wherever you are based. There are also a lot of modules and training programmes which are available online for our distance based students.

During the academic year, the College will organise training events and seminars that complement your research and future career planning. PGRs are included in the staff emails with ongoing training events, seminars and departmental opportunities throughout the year.

Attendance and participation at departmental research seminars is another important element of training for all PhD students. Please see the College’s Events webpage for further details.   

Research conducted by staff and students in the University must abide by good ethical standards that respect the integrity and well-being of those involved in it. Please also see the University ethics policies and guidance for further information.

Projects requiring ethical review typically involve interviews, questionnaires or observation of people. 

Once you have defined a project to a reasonable extent, look at it from an ethical standpoint and see if any of its activities, methods or processes has ethical implications. Projects requiring ethical review typically involve interviews, questionnaires or observation of people. If you are in any doubt, or just wish to explore problems or possibilities, contact your discipline Director of Research, or your supervisor. You may then also wish to talk with the Business School Ethics Officer.  

You must submit an e-Ethics application prior to commencing your research, via the Business School Ethics site. You should familiarise yourself with the content of these pages before you embark on your data collection. 

The information on the application will be considered by the College’s Ethics Committee, which may suggest changes. If necessary, there can be a further discussion with your discipline Director of Research or supervisor, to get the fine-tuning right. Once the content of the request has been agreed, the College Ethics Officer will then also issue you with a Certificate, which is formal confirmation of approval from the College and from the University.

Further considerations

The College’s Ethics Officer may seek advice in some cases from the Associate Dean of Research or the Secretary of the University’s Ethics Committee, and in exceptional circumstances may refer to that committee for a ruling on a particular problem.

Please remember that the principles of ethics in the conduct of research protect the researcher as well as the participants, and the University is very much aware of this dual responsibility in creating the procedures it has in place.


For general queries about ethics procedures in the College, or need to discuss your application prior to submission, please contact: Adrian Bailey:

Ethics training

Ethical awareness training is part of the training requirements in your first year. For further details go to Researcher Development Essentials

UEBS PGR Ethics Induction

As part of the PGR Induction in September 2021, there will be an ethics induction session, which will be recorded and made available though this Handbook for students who were unable to attend in person, or who started later in the year. The video link will be uploaded to this page in early October 2021. 

If you are planning to undertake research outside the UK (interviews, researching archives etc.), you are advised to take a letter of introduction stating who you are, your programme, discipline, and research topic. Such ID is often required by institutions in other countries where a student ID card is unacceptable.  This information is contained in a letter from the Ethics Committee, please check with your supervisors if you need Ethics Committee approval for your research (e.g. interviewing).   

If you are sure there are no ethical implications in your visit, then you may ask for a letter from the PGR Support team. You can photocopy multiple copies for the institutions you wish to visit. 

Full information about the University & Business School's ethics procedures and policies can be found on the Business School Ethics SharePoint site

International students should report any absences from the UK for more than 3 months to Student Immigration Services for immigration advice ( The University will then be reporting a change of study location to UKVI so that we can reduce the risk of facing any problems with immigration when you return to the UK as the reason for your long absence from the UK is explained. We will also provide you with a letter so that there is clear evidence for the Border Authorities.

Insurance and Health & Safety

All postgraduate students travelling abroad on University business (such as research fieldwork) are covered by the University’s Insurance Policy provided that you inform us about your travel plans. This insurance cover is paid for by the University. All international travel (even if to your home country) should be registered on the International Travel Form. International travel is considered as travel anywhere outside England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. You must complete the online International Travel Form at least two weeks before you travel, as it may be necessary to assess the insurance available to students visiting politically unstable regions.

The insurance policy includes a 24 hour helpline and assistance services in the event that a student requires advice or assistance whilst abroad. See the Insurance cover and claims section of the Finance Services pages for more information. The travel insurance policy includes cover for travel to potentially dangerous parts of the world. However there will be an extra charge for travel to some high risk countries eg Iraq and Afghanistan (which will be paid by the College). This must not be taken to mean that the University condones the undertaking of unnecessary risks. Travellers should ensure that there is an up-to-date assessment of any health and safety risks that their trip may expose them to before commencing their travel. If, after undertaking a risk assessment, any unacceptably high risks are identified, further advice should obtained from  Health and Safety Office, as this does not necessarily mean that the travel cannot take place. The Insurance Office, in some instances, may also seek confirmation from a College Manager that the College has given permission for the trip to take place.

Similarly, if your travel falls into the high risk category e.g. field work, field trip involving students or travel to an extreme risk country then the leader of the trip is responsible for ensuring that a Fieldwork/Risk Assessment form is completed. In order to help you understand the risks in the country you are visiting please refer to the ACE website (access code is 7872). A definition of high risk travel may be helpful in completing the risk assessment part of the form.