School of Social and Political Science

SPS Edinburgh Award for Professional Development with Leadership


This version of the Edinburgh Award is designed to support you in developing and practicing your transferable skills alongside your academic learning. It is a tailored and reflective process, designed to help you identify what skills you want to focus on and develop for the future. 

The Award runs October to March for undergraduate students and October to July for postgraduate students and entails 55-hours of self-directed work over the academic year.

You must be an SPS student to participate in this Edinburgh Award. It is recommended for postgraduate-taught students and any undergraduate student who has either completed the SPS Edinburgh Award for Professional Development before or those who can demonstrate they are in a leadership role. 


What our previous participants said:

"I would recommend that students get involved in doing the Award programme. It really helps you be intentional about auditing your skill sets but also see the gaps in which areas you need to improve in. The Award programme really helped me push myself in considering what I want for my future and what are the practical steps I need to take to reach my goals."

Kholofelo Mashego, Postgraduate, MSc in International Development, 2020-2021

"I love all aspects of the programme, especially being able to connect my 20-hour skills session with the Impact Project. The coaching sessions were also awesome in helping me reflect and walk through my skills."

Anonymous, Postgraduate, MSc in Africa and International Development, 2020-2021 "The team at the student development office was very supportive. I have enjoyed participating in this award program, have learned a lot, and look forward to continuing to develop the three skills I chose to focus on this past academic year."

Anonymous, Postgraduate, MSc in Sociology and Global Change, 2021-2022


Why complete an Edinburgh Award? 

On the SPS Edinburgh Award for Professional Development with Leadership, you will have the support of dedicated one-to-one coaching, three check-in points throughout the process to help you stay on track to meet your goals, and access to a Teams group to network, ask questions and share experiences.

As competition for graduate jobs continues to intensify, SPS Edinburgh Awards are an ideal way to make your CV stand out. Employers will want to know what you can bring to the role and your experience from participating in the Awards can help to demonstrate your broader skills, showing what you have learned in addition to your academic knowledge. 

Your SPS Edinburgh Award for Professional Development with Leadership will also appear on your Higher Education Achievement Record (HEAR) transcript

There are many different versions of the Edinburgh Award at the University, the information below is specific to this version only.

You can see the other versions here:

Award Structure

To complete the Award you must:

  1. Attend three Input Sessions (1-hour each)
  2. Complete 20 hours of skills development workshops (at least 10 hours with a leadership focus)
  3. Submit a series of short reflective pieces detailing your progress on the Award and focusing on your development as a leader

  4. Undertake an impact activity (30 hours)

See our Award FAQ pages for more details

Part 1: Attend Three Input Sessions

To qualify for and continue to progress on the Professional Development Award with Leadership, you must attend three Input Sessions.

Each Input Session lasts one hour and is run by the Student Development Office (SDO).

You cannot progress to the next stage of the Award if you do not attend the Input sessions.

In each session, we will:

  • discuss your progress on the Award
  • think about the skills that you are developing
  • reflect on how you can use these to demonstrate employability

The Input Sessions are as follows:

  • Input 1 - Aspiring
  • Input 2 - Developing
  • Input 3 - Owning

Input Sessions will feature a mix of presentations, group activities and individual reflections.

All Input Sessions will be delivered online.

Part 2: Attend 20 Hours of Skills Development Workshops

To qualify for the Professional Development Award with Leadership, you must attend 20 hours of skills development workshops.

At least 10 hours of these workshops must be focused on leadership. 

The Student Development Office (SDO) runs skills development workshops throughout the academic year. Sessions focus on a wide range of subjects, including both professional and academic skills and match up to the Graduate Attribute skills the Edinburgh Award is based on. 

It may sound like a lot, but if you plan carefully you only need to attend one session a week. Some of our workshops are 1 hour and the longest is 3 hours to fit around your other commitments.

SDO Workshops

See the full list of workshops available and book your space:

Workshops and Events


Attending Sessions Across the University

As part of the SPS Edinburgh Award, you may attend skills sessions offered by other training providers across the university (IAD, Career Services, etc.)

A minimum of 14 of your 20 hours must be from workshops run by the Student Development Office.

The remaining 6 hours can be from sessions delivered by other departments across the university (this includes resources such as LinkedIn Learning). 

Please note: You will need to send us evidence of your attendance at any sessions not facilitated by the Student Development Office. If you have questions about how to do that, please get in touch.

Postgraduate students may also access Micro-Methods Workshops through the Research Training Centre to fulfil this requirement: 

Micro-Methods Workshops

Part 3: Submit a Series of Short Reflective Pieces

To qualify for the Professional Development Award with Leadership, you must submit a series of short reflective pieces detailing your progress on the Award.

After each Input Session, you will submit a 600-word reflection on your progress to date.

You are encouraged to think about:

  • how your skills are developing, especially your leadership development
  • how you can begin to use them in practice
  • how you would describe your progress to an employer

At the end of the Award, you also reflect on your Impact Activity and the impact you have created. 

Part 4: Undertake an Impact Activity

To qualify for the Professional Development Award with Leadership, you must undertake an impact activity, totalling 30 hours.

The impact activity is a chance to put your skills to work. You may work individually or in a group. 

An impact activity is any activity that you undertake that is not credit-bearing. It is an extracurricular activity and should have some sort of positive impact on your peers at university or the non-academic world. 

Some activities in the University have an associated bespoke Edinburgh Award which may be more suitable for you to complete. You cannot use the same activity for more than one Award. 


Example impact activities can include:

  • organised events/ workshops
  • host speakers
  • set up societies
  • set up support groups
  • student reps
  • create blogs sharing academic thoughts/opinions
  • creating podcasts
  • participates in student newspapers
  • participate in Re:Think - a digital ethnographic journal - SPS
  • held awareness day's/events
  • held cultural exchange events
  • shared research work with a NGO/government/non-academic organisation (eg PBD work)
  • helped develop educational programs based on their academic knowledge/research
  • worked to create accessible versions of papers and research
  • working towards an enterprise project sharing academic knowledge
  • leading/working on campaigns related to your academic knowledge
  • students as change agents
  • voluntary consultation work related to academic work
  • Other

The Student Development Office can provide advice, guidance and support on the types of impact activities that might be suitable for your Award.  We can also offer some limited funding to cover any costs.

Please make an appointment with the SDO if you would like to discuss your impact activity:

Book an appointment

How do I sign up?

To enrol on the Award you must attend an SDO 'Skills for Success' workshop or Edinburgh Award Information session. After the event, an 600-word reflective submission is required. Information about the submission will be shared at the 'Skills for Success' Workshop.

Workshops and Events

Contact the Student Development Office team

If you have any queries about the SPS Edinburgh Award for Professional Development with Leadership, please contact the Student Development Office (SDO) team:

Contact the SDO team


Student category
Development Hub