Online courses

Research Skills Master Programme &
Statistical Methods for Research Programme

As a doctoral researcher at Reading, you can access a wide range of online training courses free of charge for the duration of your research studies. These courses offer you the opportunity to supplement and extend the face-to-face training you receive through the RRDP. Or, if you are a 'working away' student, engage with quality research skills training that you might not otherwise be able to access. (Please note that online courses do not count towards your RRDP training requirement unless this has been approved by your School/Dept. Director of PGR Studies, e.g. you are a 'working away' student.)

The courses have been designed specifically for doctoral researchers and early-career researchers by Epigeum, a company which specialises in developing online training for universities and colleges.

Each course contains a variety of pedagogical features to help you to effectively absorb the course content, apply it to your own context and extend your learning beyond the scope of the courses.

Throughout every course you will benefit from:

  • Interactive activities to help you to engage with the content
  • Case studies and scenarios to help you learn from real situations and put the theory into practice
  • Video interviews with a variety of professional experts, seasoned researchers and doctoral candidates sharing their experiences and advice
  • Video and audio dramas to demonstrate scenarios in which participants might find themselves and how to handle them.

The 'Research Skills Master Programme' comprises four areas: research methods; transferable skills; ethics; entrepreneurship. Download a list and brief summary of all 17 courses: Online skills training - Research Skills Master Programme

NEW - Statistical Methods for Research Programme

The ‘Statistical Methods for Research Programme’ is designed to provide you with a strong foundation in statistics, covering key areas such as confidence intervals, hypothesis testing and statistical modelling. Compatible with the most commonly used statistical packages, it will provide you with practical applications, interactive statistical models and scenarios to help you consolidate the skills and knowledge gained throughout the programme.

The programme is offered in five discipline areas: Biomedical Sciences; Business; Engineering and Technology; Natural Sciences; Social Science. Each discipline area consists of seven self-study components, each of which should take you about 1.5-2.5 hours to complete, including an introduction to help you become familiar with the features and tools available throughout the programme.

  • Introduction – statistics in the context of research 
  • Thinking statistically – describing data well
  • Thinking statistically – making good generalisations
  • Which hypothesis test should I use?
  • Statistical modelling
  • Analysis of categorical data
  • Conclusion – putting you skills into practice

Please note: ‘Statistical Methods for Research’ has been designed for use with the following packages: Genstat 16; Instat 3.37; Minitab 16; R 3.0.; SASA 9.3; SPSS 21; Stata 13. The online programme does not provide detailed instruction in the use of any statistical software, although there are short introductory tutorials on each package listed above. These are located in each discipline area in the introduction component, within the section 'You, as a researcher'.

If you have any questions regarding the online courses, please email

Before engaging with any of the online training courses, we strongly recommend that you read the following frequently asked questions
  • How do I access the courses?
    The courses are available to you via the University's Blackboard site. You can access each course by logging into the Graduate School Blackboard site with your University username and password. All of the courses are compatible with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, so you can access your training whenever and wherever is convenient for you.
    Please note: In order to access all the built-in features, we advise you access the courses using Internet Explorer 9 or above, or Google Chrome.
  • What is the 'Introduction to the Research Skills Master Programme' course?
    We recommend that whichever other courses you choose to take, you first undertake the introductory course. This short course provides you with an overview of the entire Research Skills Master Programme and explains particular features and tools, such as the learning assessment quizzes, the 'pods' and the Research Skills Portfolio.
  • Do I have to do all the online courses?
    No. We provide Reading doctoral Researchers with free, unlimited access so you can pick and choose which courses you take when it is timely and appropriate to your particular needs.
  • How do I pick which courses to take?
    You should have already undertaken a Learning needs analysis to highlight your particular training needs. Alternatively, you might find it helpful to complete the quiz 'Which research skills should I focus on?' which is featured in the introductory course (see above). Please note that the quiz is optional and only applies to the online courses and does not replace the Learning Needs Analysis which all doctoral researchers should undertake.
  • In the 'Research Skills Master Programme' I keep seeing references to a 'Research Skills Portfolio' - what is this and do I have to do one?
    No. The Research Skills Portfolio is optional for Reading doctoral researchers. Its purpose is to extend the activities provided in the online courses. It is your choice as to whether you engage with any of the 'portfolio' activities. However, we would stress that doctoral researchers need to manage their time carefully and not 'over engage' in training to the detriment of their research.
  • In the 'Research Skills Master Programme' what are the course quizzes and end of course assessment?
    Each course is accompanied by a pre-course quiz, a post course quiz and an end of course assessment. The pre and post course quizzes enable you to compare your level of knowledge and understanding of the course subject before you undertake the training, and then again after you have completed the course. There are no right or wrong answers. The end of course assessment is a selection of 15 multiple choice questions that relate to the subject of course and which are marked. Both the quizzes and assessment are optional.

Freedom of Information / Data Protection training resources

UK Legislation on Freedom of Information and Data Protection has implications for those working within an academic setting or for any public body. It is therefore important that our doctoral researchers are properly acquainted with the issues relating to information management and compliance.

Via the webpages of the University's Information Management & Policy Services (IMPS), you can access online training resources on both Freedom of information and Data Protection. It is strongly recommended that all research students take these modules, which take 20 and 30 minutes (respectively) to complete, with a brief test at the end of each.

Please note that, when asked for an 'employee code' (these courses were set up originally for staff), doctoral researchers should use '222222'. This will allow the course administrator to extricate responses from different groups.

Further information about Blackboard

What is Blackboard?

*Blackboard is a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)  and web-based learning system. It comprises course management tools that enable instructors to provide their students with course materials, discussion boards, virtual chat and online assessment.

Schools and Departments often use Blackboard for communicating with their students. The Graduate School currently uses Blackboard only for hosting online modules.

The version of Blackboard that the University currently uses is Blackboard Learn.

Accessing Blackboard

Once you have enrolled online and received your username and password, you should be able to log in to Blackboard (normally after one working day). You should automatically be signed up for courses or 'organisations' that are relevant to you (such as the Graduate School), shortly after you enrol.

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