Professor Shelda Debowski: Lead advisor

Shelda is a higher education consultant with experience as a Deputy Vice Chancellor. As Winthrop Professor of Higher Education at the University of Western Australia, she developed a range of innovative programs to support university leaders and researchers. A long-term advocate for improving development strategies for researchers, Shelda has guided a number of major development projects, including The Future Research Leaders Program, an online program in operation in Australia and New Zealand. In 2011 Shelda visited the UK, USA and New Zealand to explore research development practices while completing a Churchill Fellowship.

Her book, The New Academic: A Strategic Handbook, draws on many years' experience in helping academics and researchers to build their professional skills. As President of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) and the International Consortium for Educational Development (ICED), Shelda took an active interest in promoting the need for improved mentorship and development of university researchers. She has presented on these issues in various forums across the world.

Wilma Alexander: Accessibility advisor

Wilma Alexander is part of the Learning Services team at the University of Edinburgh, supporting the use of online tools and technologies across the University. She has a special interest in usable and accessible digital practice, tutors on usability and accessibility for the University's Masters in Digital Education, and promotes the use of online activities for inclusive teaching and learning in the context of staff development.

Learning outcomes

Completing this course will help you to:

  • Identify your strengths and developmental needs
  • Set yourself new and more challenging goals that encourage higher levels of performance and more advanced roles
  • Understand how your career strategy might be impacted by the broader higher education research context
  • Explore sources of support and create a clear development plan to help you achieve your goals.

Course structure

The bullet points below explain the chronology of the course and give a breakdown of each of the sections you will encounter.


The Welcome section outlines the learning outcomes and structure of the course and acknowledges contributors.

  • Participating universities
  • Learning outcomes
  • Course map


The Orientation section introduces you to the content and aims of the course. There is an opportunity to assess your current knowledge, to help you evaluate your learning at the end of the course.

  • Introduction

Course files

The course files contain the core course content. The content is divided into modules and screens.

  • Module 1: Introduction
  • Module 2: Your continuing professional development plan


The Closing section summarises what you have learned and provides reference materials for further study.

  • Course summary
  • Resource bank
  • References

Learning assessment

The Learning assessment section allows you to assess and consolidate what you have learned in the course.

  • Course quiz


Course highlights include:

  • Diagnostic activity which invites participants to assess their confidence/competence in a variety of areas – from mentoring to social media – in order to direct them to those sections of the program which will be most helpful to them
  • Video interviews in which research leaders discuss reasons for their success and share their thoughts on how to build a successful research career
  • Activity in which participants judge the importance of various traditional indicators of success and assess their own performance in each area

Supporting universities

The Professional Skills for Research Leaders program has been developed in conjunction with the following institutions:

  • Anglia Ruskin University, UK
  • Brunel University, UK
  • Dublin City University, Ireland
  • Durham University, UK
  • Indiana University, USA
  • Macquarie University, Australia
  • Michigan State University, USA
  • Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • NUI Galway, Ireland
  • Queen's University Belfast, UK
  • Sheffield Hallam University, UK
  • The Open University, UK
  • Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
  • University College Cork, Ireland
  • University College Dublin, Ireland
  • University College London, UK
  • University of Greenwich, UK
  • University of Kansas, USA
  • University of Leicester, UK
  • University of Liège, Belgium
  • University of Limerick, Ireland
  • University of Sheffield, UK