Academic and professional development

The sessions gave me guidance on how to structure answers, mentally prepare, and how to perceive and approach the viva objectively. I owe much of my viva success to them.
Simply having a platform to express personal concerns to a like-minded group made me feel supported, which is comforting in a highly competitive academic environment.
Often it helps to speak to somebody who isn’t your supervisor or an academic in your department. Having an independent person like that to consult with (not about content but about the processes more generally) can help lay some doubts to rest, and make you feel more prepared.

As a doctoral student at LSE, you are a member of a vibrant community of researchers working on some of the most fascinating social science questions of our time.

In support of your 'community of excellence', the PhD Academy provides a number of opportunities for professional development and networking that complements the support you receive from your supervisors at departmental level.

The additional professional development opportunities we provide aim to ensure that you leave LSE able to:

  • communicate and disseminate your ideas to a range of different audiences and stakeholders, via different media, within and beyond the academy
  • demonstrate that you have acquired the organisational, research, project management, collaborative and leadership skills that will make you attractive to different labour markets

What does the Academic and Professional Development Programme involve?

The PhD Academy runs a series of short courses which offer you help at the different stages of your PhD. These include support in core skills such as writing, constructing a thesis, managing your time effectively, coaching for timely completion as well as preparing for upgrade and your viva.

Our courses help you promote your ideas outside of LSE and prepare you for the job market. See our events and courses.

LSE is also part of the Bloomsbury Postgraduate Skills Network that allows doctoral students to participate in events across member institutions.

Suggest a professional development session

Many of the professional development sessions we run have been suggested by students. If you have a new idea for a session please email

Dr Sarabajaya Kumar directs the Academy’s Academic and Professional Development Programme for doctoral students.


The PhD Academy offers one to one or group coaching sessions for doctoral students. Coaching can be a particularly effective part of the PhD experience, especially for social scientists whose work is often done in isolation.
A two-way process designed to raise awareness through giving feedback and effective questioning, the coach, drawing on well proven techniques and processes, assists doctoral students with achieving their desired outcomes.

There are four coaching programmes offered through the PhD Academy’s Academic and Professional Development Programme.

Coaching for Completion (one-to-one sessions)

Coaching for Completion is offered on a one to one basis, with students able to discuss with Dr Kumar how they can best prepare, in terms of time, energy and focus, for successful completion of their thesis. Up to six half-hour sessions are available for each student.

Coaching for the Viva

Dr Kumar also offers a one to one Coaching for the Viva sessions, in which students are helped to think through the process and purpose of the viva and encouraged to consider the sorts of questions that examiners are likely to ask and how to prepare for answering them. Around 100 students each year benefit from this programme.

Writing Coaching Group

The Writing Coaching Group, especially useful for Year 2 students, links 4 or 5 students from different disciplines in groups where, following an initial 'crash course' on writing etiquette, they read and comment on one another’s work. The groups meet regularly over the course of a year and can check in whenever necessary with former Royal Literary Fund Fellow Marina Benjamin, who co-delivers the programme with Dr Kumar at the PhD Academy.

To find out more about the Writing Coaching Group and/or to join a group, please see the schedule of Academic and Professional Development events on events and courses.

Coaching for Completion Group

Available from the Michaelmas Term 2017, the Coaching for Completion Group is a five session programme designed for students who are around a year away from submitting.

Delivered by the PhD Academy’s Dr Sarabajaya Kumar it is structured around what the students collectively want and need. Past groups have proven successful in dealing with issues such as time management, writer’s block and performance anxiety.