Skills and Training

Conducting a research degree at the University of Edinburgh could be one of the best experiences of your life. What you gain along the way will serve you for the rest of life, if only to make you a more confident and knowledgeable person.


In addition to gaining research skills, making friends, meeting eminent researchers and being part of the research community, a research degree will help you to develop invaluable transferable skills which you can apply to academic life or a variety of professions outside of academia:

  • The ability to work independently and to identify the aims and objectives of a project from the outset
  • Teamwork and networking skills in an international context
  • The ability to argue a case effectively and to offer constructive criticism
  • Analytical and problem-solving skills to carry out complex tasks as well as to analyse a large amount of data/information
  • Enhanced communication skills and the ability to convey high-level information in a persuasive manner to a wide variety of audiences including the non-specialist
  • Excellent written skills, from extensive reports to technical papers
  • Time, project and stress management skills
  • Motivational skills and commitment
  • An inquiring mind

A postgraduate degree in chemistry can lead to a career in the chemical science industries, in academic teaching/research or in a host of other careers that use the transferable and critical thinking skills you will acquire. Scotland and the UK boast a vibrant Chemical Sciences sector and you can see examples of the depth and diversity on the Chemical Sciences Scotland webpage. The Royal Society of Chemistry also provides useful careers advice and information.

Graduate School Training Policy

To achieve these goals, the School has a well-developed training policy for postgraduate students. Many sources of training are available including courses at School, College and University level. As a University of Edinburgh research student, you will also have access to one of the best and most active transferable skills training units, the Institute for Academic Development (IAD).

IAD courses are available to all our PhD students and provide them the chance to expand their abilities in a number of key areas. By developing skills in IT, communication, project planning and career management our students can graduate with all the skills required to stand out to potential employers.

Essential Chemistry Skills

The School of Chemistry aims to provide the best scientific training for each postgraduate student. To this end a supervisor is expected to:

  • have a proven record of research
  • be able to provide the student with access to, and training in, the appropriate techniques and practical approaches
  • encourage the student to broaden his/her knowledge by critical reading of the scientific literature and attendance at seminars

The School and the University provide a range of additional training opportunities including postgraduate lectures on themes such as NMR, X-ray crystallography, synthesis and others.

Safety is of paramount importance and students are given extensive training to raise awareness of safety in the lab.

Training opportunities within the School, both mandatory and optional, include:

  • A programme of visiting academic lecturers. School-visiting speaker seminars are held most weeks covering the full range of chemistry.
  • Programmes of student seminars with three sessions per week during term. Each student speaks at least once per year and any additional slots may be made up with postdocs and/or visitors.
  • The opportunity for students to attend an annual residential meeting at Firbush Point Field Centre.
  • Regular and ad hoc postgraduate lecture courses. Students will also be able to attend final year undergraduate lecture courses where appropriate.
  • A whole-School postgraduate seminar event. This will be held in May or June and student representatives of different research areas within the School will speak. The speakers are selected on merit and an overall best speaker is decided on the day.