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Online Research Skills Modules

The following series of online modules have been developed with a consortium of six other Universities to provide an opportunity for anytime, anywhere learning or review of research related topics. They are designed for early stage researchers – research students, research staff, and probationary teaching staff.

Each of the modules will take about two hours to complete, but can be visited in smaller time blocks. These are not intended to replace, element for element, the workshops available via the University Graduate College Programme or the Staff Development Programme, however they can introduce topics and may serve as a springboard for undertaking higher-level workshops.

The modules include a variety of learning approaches including video clips, simulations, and scenarios. Academic personalities are featured that would not normally attend workshops: Adam Hart-Davis and Lord Winston – BBC documentary presenters; Nobel Prize Winner Sir Harry Kroto; Lord Rees – Astronomer Royal and President of the Royal Society; and Professor Peter Barnes – one of the UK’s most cited academic authors.

Below is a list of courses, which links initially to the module description. From there, you can link to the module itself. These modules are available only to members of Cardiff University, so you will be prompted to enter your Cardiff username and password.

We are keen to obtain researcher feedback on these modules. If you have comments or suggestions, please contact us at

Please note that we are currently awaiting Internet Explorer-compatible versions of these modules. In the meantime, please use another browser (such as Firefox or Chrome). Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause you).

Available Now:


An Introduction to Research Skills
This course is designed to introduce you to the Research Skills Master Programme which provides a broad range of essential skills and knowledge designed to improve effectiveness in research. This course will explain and underline the importance of undertaking a skills training programme at the start of a doctorate or early research career and explain the structure and features of the Research Skills programme. It also provides a diagnostic tool to enable participants to identify which Research Skills courses will be most relevant, according to their individual abilities and needs. Click here to access the module.


Career Planning in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

This course aims to encourage PhDs and other early career researchers to explore the skills and motivations for a career in academia or beyond. During the course you will see how important it is to assess and continually re-evaluate your skills and interests and recognise that personal factors such as location and family circumstances can influence and affect career planning. Even if you already have a career path planned, the course has a number of exercises for you to work through, including marketing yourself to prospective employers in applications and in interviews, to help you achieve your aims

The author is Tom Davie, Deputy Head of Careers at Durham University Careers Advisory Service, and a practising Careers Adviser. He has had twenty five years of experience in the profession (eleven of those in higher education) and has offered one to one and workshop support to researchers as well as currently tutoring and directing regional GRADschools. He is an experienced National Staff Trainer and Director of Professional Development for the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS). Click here to access the module.


Career Planning in the Sciences

This course aims to encourage postgraduate and postdoctoral scientists to actively use career management techniques. Use of these techniques can be valuable whether planning a career in academia or exploring a variety of alternative career options. As you work through the course you will build up a picture of your skills, personal preferences and style, which can help you in your career choice. Even if you have a definite career plan in mind this course can help determine your suitability for it and may identify areas that you can work on to increase your chances of success.

The author, Denise Best, is currently a careers adviser for postgraduate research students at Oxford University. She has been actively involved in designing and organising skills training for researchers as well as developing an electronic personal development planning system and web-based resources. One of her other areas of interest is graduate and postgraduate labour market intelligence. She advises on, and co-ordinates, this type of information at national and university level. Before moving into careers Denise was a researcher in the pharmacology department at Oxford University and funded by the British Heart Foundation to study signalling in platelets. Although she really enjoyed her research and the buzz of publication she felt she needed a different challenge. To enable her transition from research she followed a very similar process to the one she outlines in this course. Click here to access the module.


Getting Published in the Arts & Humanities

Why publish? To extend knowledge? To engage in academic debate? Or because you feel under intense pressure to do so in order to get on in your career? The aim of this course is to give guidance and support to arts and humanities students who are keen to put their research into the public realm, through academic papers and books. This course will:

The module author is Dr Flora Samuel, formerly of Cardiff University is now a Senior Lecturer at the University of Bath. She is Associate Editor of the Architectural Research Quarterly, and on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Education in the Built Environment. Her work has been published extensively both in the UK and abroad in both academic journals and books. Click here to access the module.


Getting Published in the Sciences

Scientific publishing has a long and proud tradition but it is more important now than at any other time. A clear distinction must be made, however, between scientists publishing the results of a program of scientific research, and science writers writing about scientific research. This course is tightly focused on the former: academic publishing. This course aims to provide:

The module author is Dr Keith Hart, a Senior Research Fellow at Cardiff University. He pursued his ambition to become a science writer by working as a British Association for the Advancement of Science/Royal Society Media Fellow at the BBC World Service. He has also been as a Medical Writer for Dragon Communications. Dr Hart has published extensively in a range of journals. Click here to access the module.


Good Supervision Video

The quality of your relationship with your supervisor or supervisors can be crucial to the progress of your PhD. Should you think of your supervisor as your teacher, your friend, an authority figure or a resource for your use? And what should you do if you are not getting the support you need? This video will help students in all disciplines to get the best from their supervisors. Topics include how to:

Click here to access the module.


Good Viva Video

This video examines the viva process and examines:

Click here to access the module.


Intellectual Property in the Research Context

A lack of intellectual property (IP) awareness means that some researchers are missing an opportunity to commercialise their work or are failing to prevent others from unfairly exploiting their research. This course enables students to work out what they need to protect their work and to take the necessary steps to secure such protection. Included are:

The video elements are presented by Adam Hart-Davis, well-known BBC documentary presenter. This online course will take about two hours to complete, but may be done in several visits.

The module author is Graham Christ, a Researcher in Intellectual Property and Competition Law at the Tanaka Business School, Imperial College London. He consults to the DTI on the Law and Practice of Gene Sequence Patents, working in conjunction with the Intellectual Property Institute. Graham is also a Member of the Intellectual Property Forum. Click here to access the module.


Managing Your Research Supervisor or Principal Investigator

This course is aimed at encouraging postgraduates and postdoctoral researchers to consider and actively manage their relationship with their supervisor or principal investigator. The course should take you about 100 minutes and may be completed in several visits. This course aims to provide:

Dr Paul Langford graduated from UWIST (Cardiff) with a BSc Applied Biology, and a PhD from the University of Aston (Birmingham) investigating alternatives to animal experimentation. After a fun year in Australia he held postdoctoral positions in the Departments of Chemistry/Microbiology at the University of Bristol and the Department of Paediatrics, University of Oxford. Subsequently he was appointed a lecturer in the Department of Paediatrics at Imperial College and is currently a reader in paediatric infectious diseases. His research interests include the diagnosis of tuberculosis and the development of vaccines for bacterial meningitis and lung diseases of pigs. He has supervised many PhD postgraduate students and has been involved with research skills development training for many years. He has collaborations with groups at UK Universities and abroad (China, Singapore, Australia, Canada and Germany), which provides lots of opportunities for extremely enjoyable foreign travel. Click here to access the module.


Presentation Skills: The Good Presentation Skills Video

Good presentation skills are essential for students while undertaking a PhD, and in their future careers, whether in academia or elsewhere. Based on specially scripted drama scenarios and interviews with experienced academics and PhD students, this online video includes material on:

Click here to access the module.


Project Management in the Research Context

This course will introduce you to some of the key concepts of conventional project management and show you how they can be used in the academic research context. The course will take you through the four key phases of the project life cycle, introduces traditional project management methodologies and illustrates how these tools and techniques can be used in the research context. After finishing the course, you will be able to:

The module author is Andrey Timoshkin, a researcher at the Tanaka Business School, Imperial College London. Apart from project management, his research interests include economic modelling, economic evaluation of healthcare programmes, and management information systems in the health sector. Click here to access the module.


Research Ethics 1: Research Governance

This course covers standard practice and recent changes in universities’ ethics relating to research that investigates people and their data. The course applies, for example, to the healthcare disciplines, to natural and social sciences, education and welfare services, humanities, law and media studies. Ethics standards apply very generally across many topics, methods and disciplines of research. The research methods reviewed here in the context of ethics include:

The module author is Professor Priscilla Alderson, a sociologist and Professor of Childhood Studies at the Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education University of London. During 1981-1985, she was a member of the Institute of Medical Ethics working group on Medical Research with Children: Ethics, Law and Practice’. Besides being a member of several committees concerned with research ethics, she has researched and written several books and papers on ethics and methods of social research. Click here to access the module.


Research Ethics 2: Working with Human Subjects

This course follows on from Research Ethics 1, but concentrates on the ethics of involving human participants directly, or indirectly, in research projects. The aims of the course are to help you to:

The module author is Gary Roper, the Research Governance Manager for Imperial College London who has been responsible for setting up and managing the governance systems for human health related research and integrating systems with partner NHS Trusts. He assisted in the development of, and is a member of, the Imperial’s Research Ethics Committee. He sits on the Good Clinical Practice Consultative Committee for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), and is a member of the NHS R&D Forum Representatives Group. Click here to access the module.


Research Methods in the Arts and Humanities

The syllabus for this course includes:

The author, Dr Deborah Parsons, is Director of the Humanities Graduate School at Birmingham. She has published on a wide range of Victorian and modernist writers, as well as topics such as the urban culture of modernity, literary impressionism and first world war writing. She is co-editor of the e-Journal Modernist Cultures and a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council Review College. Her co-author, Dr Helen Laville, is Postgraduate Director of American and Canadian Studies at Birmingham. She has published in her chief research areas, Gender and International Relations, Civil Rights, and Cold War Film. Click here to access the module.


Research Methods in Literature Review

The syllabus for this course includes:

The author, Dr Helen Aveyard is the author of a recent textbook: Doing a Literature Review in Health and Social Care: A Practical Guide (Open University Press / McGraw-Hill 2007). She is also Senior Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University, in the School of Health and Social Care where she is involved in the teaching and development of research education. Click here to access the module.


Research Methods in the Sciences

The syllabus for this course includes:

His co-author, Dr Nick Sevdalis teaches research methods to medical students at Imperial College London. His research interests include; Behavioural Decision-Making (affective influences on individual decision behaviours and dyadic negotiation; predicted and experienced utilities); affective forecasting; and behavioural economics.

The other co-author, Dr Rajarajan Muttukrishnan is a lecturer at City University, where he is involved in the research at the Measurement and Instrumentation Center and teaching in the School of Engineering. Dr Rajarajan has published more than 60 Journal and Conference papers in the area of Photonic Devices Modeling. Click here to access the module.


Research Methods in the Social Sciences

The syllabus for this course includes:

The author, Dr Gordon Rugg, is the author of several books on Research Methods including ‘A gentle guide to Research Methods’. His first degree was in French and Linguistics and his PhD was in Experimental Psychology. He then worked in a variety of fields, including English lecturing, field archaeology, artificial intelligence, information retrieval, and human factors. Dr Rugg is currently a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at Keele University, and a visiting Senior Research Fellow in Computer Science at the Open University. Click here to access the module.


Selecting a Conference, Presenting and Networking

This course will help you to select a conference that is appropriate for you and get the most out of your conference attendance. It will consider how make the most of your presentation (if you are making one) and answer tricky questions and ask probing ones. The networking section covers establishing and maintaining useful professional (and social) contacts.

The author, Dr Keith Hart is currently research associate for the Central Biotechnology Service, School of Medicine, Cardiff University. He has long been interested in scientific writing and enjoyed a British Association for the Advancement of Science media fellowship at the BBC World Service. Keith has also been a research fellow in the Nuffield department of clinical medicine at Oxford and has co-authored over 20 papers in peer reviewed journals. Click here to access the module.

Programme Brochure

Training and Development Programme Brochure