MPhil/PhD studentship to critically evaluate the impact of the Develop@Derby personal skills development programme.

Investing in excellence: studentship opportunities

The University of Derby is seeking to recruit Studentships in Learning, Teaching and Academic Practice. Seven projects have been identified to support the pedagogic core of the University’s learning and teaching. The projects aim to ensure that we are research led in our practice and have a strategic approach to the evaluation of the impact of our approaches to student support, developing skills and employability, education for sustainable development, inclusivity, and generative AI. Of the seven projects, we will recruit to three.

The following full-time postgraduate research studentship is one of the seven possible projects available. This full-time postgraduate research studentship is in the public services area of research in the College of Arts, Humanities and Education.

Qualification type: Location: Funding amount: Hours: Closes: Interview: Start date:
MPhil/PhD Derby, UK £18,622 stipend pa + UK home tuition fees (£4,712) full time Friday 5 January 2024* 24 January to 31 January 2024 March 2024

The successful applicant will receive a maintenance stipend (based on the minimum stipend defined by UKRI, currently £18,622 for the academic year 2023/24) and home MPhil/PhD tuition fees (£4,712 - subject to amendment) only up to the target submission date.

The intended intake period is March 2024.

The successful applicant will be expected to complete their MPhil/PhD within 3 years on the MPhil/PhD route, contribute to the College REF submission and get involved in the wider research activities of the College.

Applicants will become part of a friendly and welcoming team and will be supported and managed by their supervisors.

The vacancy details are as follows:


Develop@Derby is a key enabler for the University’s strategic priorities around learning & teaching, in particular our institution’s Curriculum Design Framework, which sets out the requirement for programmes to be designed with consideration of four themes, including Scaffolding Personal Development. Develop@Derby is also critical in realising the ambitions of the Student Support Framework, Learning, Teaching & Assessment Framework, and Institutional Success Measures (ISMs):

ISM1. Relative performance in the TEF’s 5 core NSS question domains.

ISM2.Proportion of UK domiciled taught students who are active in further study or in highly skilled employment.

ISM5. Attainment gap in degree outcomes between white and black students.

ISM8. Continuation Rate.

This project will critically evaluate the impact of the Develop@Derby personal skills development programme. A mixed methods approach would be used to evaluate the impact of the Develop@Derby skills development programme, and to make recommendations for maximising its potential.

  1. The project will start with a scoping exercise to ascertain the types of personal skills development programmes on offer in other institutions, nationally and internationally.
  2. The project will undertake a multiple stakeholder analysis of uptake of Develop@Derby involving students, academic staff, and professional service staff.
  3. The project will derive key measures for monitoring the impact of Develop@Derby on graduate outcomes, student attainment and student continuation and present recommendations as to how these measures can be applied operationally.
  4. The project will develop a set of recommendations for maximising the potential of Develop@Derby and embedding it as the core personal skills development programme for the institution.

Project description

Develop@Derby launched in September 2022, with the aim of providing a co-ordinated model that harmonised the range of institutional support and scaffolding for development of skills and attributes, to ensure graduates are successful through the university, and as they embark on their chosen future.

Phase 1 of this project will be to undertake a scoping exercise to ascertain what other types of personal skills development programmes are available in other institutions, nationally and internationally. Attention will need to be paid to how such programmes are used, and how different learner needs are met. Consideration will also need to be given to how discipline specific materials are packaged within such programmes, and how the role of the personal academic tutor (or equivalent) is integrated.

Phase 2 of this project will critically evaluate the impact of Develop@Derby using quantitative data (from the Graduate Outcomes Survey, student attainment data and student progression data), and combining this with qualitative data from stakeholder analysis (collected using focus groups with students, academic staff, and professional service staff). This mixed-methods approach would yield rich data which can be triangulated to provide a critical evaluation of the current success of Develop@Derby.

Phase 3 of the project will involve the development of a set of recommendations to maximise the potential of the Develop@Derby offer, embed it as the core personal skills development programme for the institution and implement measures that allow for the ongoing monitoring of impact of Develop@Derby on student success, including graduate outcomes, student attainment and student continuation.

Potential project impact

The nurturing and development of personal skills is a critical part of a well-rounded student experience on offer at the University of Derby.

The Office for Students expects HE providers to enable students to develop intellectual and professional skills and that they will have appropriate skills from their course to succeed and thrive once in employment.


This project would help the institution understand whether Develop@Derby is meeting its strategic intent and would consider how the initiative is adding value to student experience, student success, and where potential enhancements could be made.

Using key strategic measures, such as graduate outcomes, student attainment and student continuation, it will be possible to measure the impact of Develop@Derby on students’ success as well as the initiative’s overarching contribution to Conditions of Registration with the OfS (B3, D1 and D3) and ISMs (ISM1, ISM2, ISM5 and ISM8). Using qualitative data from stakeholders (students and staff) about their experiences of Develop@Derby, an understanding of barriers and enablers to use will be collated. By combining both data sets, it will be possible to develop a set of recommendations which would help to maximise the impact of Develop@Derby.

Principal accountabilities and responsibilities

In this project, successful applicants will be required to:

The successful applicant will become adept at managing research projects and adhering to timeframes for key milestone deliverables.

The project will require ongoing engagement with multiple stakeholders. This provides successful candidates with unparalleled opportunities to develop in-demand skills and experience and develop a strong institutional network that will enhance their future employment prospects.

Applicants will need to evidence the following essential attributes, skills, and abilities:

To apply 

Please review our entry requirements before submitting your application and check out the 'Getting Started' section below.

Completed applications should be submitted via our online application system quoting funding reference: AHE_ Personal Skills 02_ 1123

Closing dates for applications: Friday 5 January 2024.*

*(Please note, we encourage applicants to apply as soon as possible as we reserve the right to close before 5 January 2024 if a high volume of applications is received.)  

Interviews: 24 January to 31 January 2024. 

If you have not been invited for an interview by the interview date, please assume your application has been unsuccessful.  

For other enquiries which are subject-specific please contact:

Find out more about our Public Services.

Apply for this SE studentship post

Getting started

Before you begin your application, make sure you have:

Studentship funding reference code

This is provided on the individual studentship advert and must be specified in your application.

Personal statement

A 500-word personal statement outlining your suitability for the studentship project. This is a mandatory requirement and you must upload it into your application. You should include your reasons for applying for the studentship, your experience in the field, how you feel you would benefit from studying and relevant information about your previous studies.

Your CV

A CV outlining your academic and professional experience.


Your qualification details including grades and dates taken. You will have the opportunity to upload scanned copies of your qualification certificates and transcripts in the application. If you have no formal qualifications, you can also state this in your application.

Passport/birth certificate

A scanned copy of your passport or full birth certificate. This will help us verify your application to study with us.

Academic references

Two signed academic references. This is optional at application stage but highly encouraged. If successful in your application, two academic references will be a mandatory requirement of admission. The references should be in written format, signed and dated from either a supervisor or tutor from your most recent studies.