School of Social and Political Science

SSPS Edinburgh Award for Professional Development


Please note that we are no longer able to accept applications for the SPS Edinburgh Award for Professional Development.  Students can still apply to join the Professional Development Certificate.

About the SPS Edinburgh Award for Professional Development

This award is open to all School of Social and Political Science (SSPS) students. 

This version of the Edinburgh Award is designed to support you to develop and practice your transferable skills alongside your academic learning.

It runs October - March for Undergraduates and October to July for Postgraduates. 

This award is 55- hours of self-directed work over the academic year.

It is a tailored and reflective process, designed to support you to identify what skills you want to focus on and develop.

You will have the support of dedicated one-to-one coaching, 3 check-in points throughout the process to help you on track to meet your goals and access to a Teams group to network, ask questions and share experiences.

The Awards encourage you to view your professional development as a three-step process:

  • Identifying the skills that you want to develop
  • Learning about the skills through training workshops
  • Putting your new skills to practical use through a series of 'impact' activities

As competition for graduate jobs continues to intensify, SSPS 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. 

What our previous participants said

"I absolutely loved the journey of the SSPS Edinburgh Award for Professional Development as attending all the skills workshops helped me to not only interact with my peers from all the schools but also collaboratively work on our skills learning initiatives. I absolutely loved my interactions with my coach as well and I feel I have definitely improved a lot in all of the 3 major skills that I wanted to work upon at the beginning of year1."

Prerana Singh, First Year Undergraduate, MA (Hons) International Relations, 2020-2021

"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

Your SSPS Edinburgh Award for Professional Development will appear on your Higher Education Achievement Record (HEAR) transcript. 

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


Award Structure

To complete the Award you must:

  1. Attend three Input Sessions (1-hour each)
  2. Complete 20 hours of skills development workshops*
  3. Submit a series of short reflective pieces detailing your progress on the Award*
  4. Undertake an impact activity (30 hours)

*Students who have already completed an SSPS Edinburgh Award, or who are undertaking a leadership role within their studies (eg: PALS leaders), are eligible to complete the SSPS Edinburgh Award for Professional Development (Leadership).  You will find more details on the Leadership Award below.

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, 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: Complete 20 Hours of Skills Development Workshops

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

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.

Please note: All sessions will be delivered online in 2021/22.  

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

Workshops and Events

Attending Sessions Across the University

As part of the SSPS Edinburgh Award, you may attend skills sessions offered by other training providers across the university.

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.

You will need to send us evidence of your attendance at those sessions. 

Part 3: Submit a Series of Short Reflective Pieces

To qualify for the Professional Development Award, 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
  • 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, 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 or paid employment. 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
  • PALS, Peer support
  • 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 (SDO) 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?

The Award is now closed to new applicants.  Students can still apply to join the Professional Development Certificate.

SSPS Edinburgh Award for Professional Development with Leadership

The SSPS Edinburgh Award for Professional Development with Leadership is an advanced award.  To enrol, you must either complete the SSPS Edinburgh Award for Professional Development or demonstrate a strong leadership position.

The structure and requirements of the Leadership Award are the same as the SSPS Edinburgh Award for Professional Development.  However, those on the Leadership Award must:

  • Complete at least 10 hours of training with a strong leadership focus (as part of your 20hrs skills development).
  • Your written submissions should focus on your development as a leader.

If you wish to complete the Leadership version please email the SDO to confirm. 

Contact the Student Development Office team

If you have any queries about the SSPS Edinburgh Professional Development Award or Leadership version, please contact the Student Development Office (SDO) team.

Contact the SDO team

Student category
Development Hub