School of Social and Political Science

Student Development Office


The Student Development Office (SDO) offers skills and employability training through a range of interactive workshops, work shadowing opportunities, professional development awards and placement-based dissertations.

Open to all students in the School of Social and Political Science, it is the framework through which we connect students with the world beyond academia and boost skills for employability.


Academic & Professional Skills Training

Throughout the academic year, the SDO offers a wide range of professional development and academic skills workshops. Run by experienced tutors and guest speakers, these interactive sessions are tailored for different levels of study and experience, allowing students to select the level of expertise most appropriate to their interests and needs.

Academic & Professional Skills Training

Edinburgh Awards

The year-long Edinburgh Award is a series of events and activities designed to strengthen your CV and help you stand out in the job market. The award recognises and rewards your involvement in activities undertaken alongside the degree programme and aims to enhance and improve the student experience.

SPS currently offers the following Edinburgh Awards:

  • SPS Edinburgh Award for Professional Development
  • SPS Edinburgh Award for Professional Development with Leadership (You must have previously completed the Award for Professional Development.)

Each award offers four specialisms:

  • Community Engagement
  • Public Engagement
  • Digital Content Creation
  • Coaching Skills

Edinburgh Awards require a time commitment of at least 50 hours over the course of the academic year.

Edinburgh Awards

Professional Development Certificates

The SDO offers a series of professional development certificates.  Certificates recognise attendance at professional development workshops but require a shorter time commitment than the Edinburgh Award.

Three levels of certificate are available:

Bronze: 10 hrs skills attendance

Silver: 15 hrs attendance

Gold: 20 hrs attendance

Students must also submit a 500-word reflective summary of their skills development over the course of the Certificate.

Professional Development Certificates

Placement-Based Learning

Students on selected programmes may undertake placement-based dissertation as a part of their degree programme. Students will partner with a local, national or internationally based organisation to complete an extensive research project on a mutually agreed subject area. Funding to support placement-based dissertations is available through the SDO on a competitive basis.

  • MSc Placement-Based Dissertations
  • Undergraduate Placements: Social Policy (4th year students only)
  • Master's Placements: Social Work 
  • Undergraduate Placements: Social Work ( 3rd & 4th year students)

Placement-Based Learning

Work Shadowing Opportunities

Honours students in Social Policy may apply to a limited number of work shadowing opportunities made available via the SDO. Students will be partnered with Edinburgh-based organisations and will complete up to 20 hours of work shadowing activities. A member of staff at the host organisation will act as the student's mentor throughout the work shadowing arrangement.

Student category