Training FAQs

Training FAQs

The information below answers some of the most common questions, asked by social science doctoral researchers and their supervisors, in relation to the training offered by the WRDTP partner Universities.

1) What is the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership (WRDTP)?
It is a consortium of 7 universities, led by the University of Sheffield, which offers social science doctoral researchers a range of training opportunities linked to interdisciplinary themed Pathways, drawn from the thematic and methodological strengths of each HEI. The WRDTP also offers three/four year fully funded ESRC studentships across a range of different awards, e.g. Network Awards, Pathway Awards, Interdisciplinary Research Awards and AQM (Advanced Quantitative Methods) Awards.

2) Which Universities participate in the WRDTP?
The University of Sheffield, the University of Leeds, the University of York, Manchester Metropolitan University, Bradford University, University of Hull, and Sheffield Hallam University are members of the WRDTP.

3) Which social science departments participate in the WRDTP?
There is a list of accredited departments in Annex I. To be eligible to join a Pathway you must be registered in one of these departments.

4) What does it mean for doctoral research students to be a member of the WRDTP?

a) You can take part in all the events/conferences.
b) You have access to research training opportunities beyond your own university and can work together with other social science researchers to identify collective training needs, which the WRDTP will look to commission.
c) You can access additional funding to support your training (for eligible ESRC funded students), run your own training events, and set up new networks.

5) Training Pathways

a) What are Pathways?
Pathways are innovative interdisciplinary themed training routes. They enable students to articulate how their PhD contributes to wider societal challenges and to gain an advanced understanding of social science research. There is a list of Pathways and a brief summary of these Pathways in Annex II.

b) What do WRDTP Pathways mean to me?
Pathways offer you the opportunity to engage with researchers working in other universities, as well as in other disciplines, in order to gain a wider understanding of the scope and complexity of social science research in your thematic area. All ESRC-funded students are allocated to an appropriate training Pathway based on their funding arrangements. However, ALL students are invited to become members of a WRDTP Pathway and to participate in training activities that are aligned with their research needs. This will provide an important context for research training, including for Masters students via the Working Beyond Disciplines module and for PhD students via the Pathway element of their studies.

c) How do I decide what the best Pathway fit is for my research topic?
You will receive guidance on this from your department/supervisor. The best fit for you will be the Pathway that offers the most suitable help and guidance in supporting your research training and your research topic. All Pathways are multidisciplinary and include students from a range of different discipline-based departments and research centres.

d) How do I meet and network with other students on my Pathway?
There will be regular conferences and workshops for Pathways. Students on Pathways are encouraged and supported to organise their own events, including events that bring together different Pathways. In addition, each University has a local academic colleague who leads each Pathway – this may be the Pathway Director or Deputy Director – who can be contacted if you have queries or ideas about activities you’d like to offer. You will be invited to ‘sign-up’ to a Pathway and will receive regular email updates on what events and training is on offer.

e) Can I attend training from more than one Pathway?
Normally the answer is yes, subject to availability. We will also be offering training events and activities that bring together students from different Pathways.

f) Can I move into another Pathway?
You can move to another Pathway within your first year of study to a different Pathway after consultation with your school/department/supervisor.

g) What is the relationship between my department/school and my Pathway?
All Pathways are multidisciplinary. You will have access to high quality disciplinary training and research supervision through your own institution, complemented by what the WRDTP can offer. The Pathways complement this by providing opportunities to engage with researchers working in other universities as well as in other disciplines.

h) How do I find out about WRDTP training and events?
The web site will advertise all the events and training offered by the WRDTP and this is where you will book a place – see the TRAINING section. You will also receive direct email communications from your elected Pathway and your institution. Alerts will also go out on the @wrssdtp Twitter account.

i) Is there funding available for travel and how do I access this?
The WRDTP policy regarding the availability of travel bursaries will be advertised on the website ( shortly.

6) Training

a) What does the WRDTP Training Experience look like?
You will undertake a Training Needs Analysis during your first month of registration in consultation with your supervisors, and this will be regularly reviewed throughout your doctoral studies. The WRDTP offers Pathway, Advanced Training and Professional Skills training that will be tailored to your specific training needs and aspirations as a doctoral researcher. You will also receive training in your specific discipline area from your department/school. You are advised to discuss with your supervisor the local arrangements for recording your engagement with the training offered.

b) Will I be able to access training on line?
The WRDTP will be recording training sessions where possible, live streaming sessions, offering webinars and also hosting training materials, e.g talks and presentations, on the Virtual Interdisciplinary Research Environment (VIRE) accessed via the web site. You will be given access to the VIRE upon Pathway registration.

Masters Year Training Modules

Core research training is delivered through a Masters in Social Research framework at your home university which has been harmonised across the seven WRDTP partner universities. The structure will normally provide: a minimum of 75 credits of core social science research methods skills and transferable skills and a maximum of 45 credits of core subject-specific training.  Examples of the module content:












Doctoral Training Modules

All ESRC-funded students (1+3 by progression, or +3 by entry) will normally be required to complete at least 60 credits of further training during their ‘+3’ period of research. This is monitored for individual students via the Training Needs Analysis (TNA) process. There will be flexibility to spread this across the whole of the doctoral period, so that students are engaging with elements of training that directly relate to, and support, appropriate stages of their research and thesis development.

The 60 credits of doctoral level training will comprise four portfolio areas (compulsory for ESRC funded students):

Doctoral Training Modules











7) What is Training Needs Analysis (TNA) and why does it matter?

To ensure that all students (including 1+3 MA Social Research students) within the WRDTP receive a high level of social science training with a full complement of core, advanced, and transferable skills, Personal Development Planning will be used to allow you and your supervisors to tailor training within an appropriate framework. The Training Needs Analysis (TNA) framework at each partner university is used to do this and is based on the Researcher Development Framework developed by Vitae. Your TNA should be completed as soon as possible after your initial registration and it will be reviewed with your supervisory team twice a year for the rest of your doctoral journey. Your TNA will be used by the WRDTP as a means of evidencing that you have received the appropriate training in pursuit of becoming an effective social science researcher and will allow the WRDTP to tailor training to meet your ongoing needs. The TNAs will be independently reviewed by each of the WRDTP universities biannually and reported into the WRDTP Training Group who will then assess the suitability of training on offer and commission additional courses where necessary.

8) Training and my supervisor

a) How does my supervisor support my training needs and development as a doctoral researcher?
As well as providing supervision for your research project, your supervisor, and wider thesis advisory group, are crucial in informing your Training Needs Analysis (TNA), in guiding you on appropriate training courses and activities, including Pathway membership, and in helping you to balance research and training.

9) Code of Practice

Your studies are governed by the regulations, codes, policies and procedures at the institution where you are registered and you are advised to familiarise yourself with these rules at the start of your studies.

10) Ethics

It is the responsibility of each doctoral researcher to take into account the ethical issues that apply to your research. You must ensure that ethical approval is sought at your institution following the rules set down there in regarding research practice.

If your specific question is not answered in this document please email

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Updated 7 November 2017