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Graduate qualities

  1. Graduate qualities
  2. Researcher graduate qualities for the PhD

Researcher graduate qualities for the PhD

The researcher graduate qualities will assist you to develop the skills and knowledge you need to become an exceptional PhD researcher and get career-ready.


The University of Sydney has developed a set of graduate qualities to define and enrich the PhD, and support you to get ready for a post-doctoral career in industry or research.

The researcher graduate qualities focus on building deep disciplinary expertise and a range of broader, transferrable skills that will enhance your research activities and career possibilities.

The eleven qualities cover cultural competence, interdisciplinary effectiveness, professional, ethical, personal identity, influence, critical thinking and problem-solving, communication, information and digital literacy, inventiveness, engagement and project planning and delivery.

From 2021 onwards, early career researchers will have access to development activities including coursework, mentoring programs, workshops, global mobility experiences, self-reflection exercises and competitions, challenges or projects.

What this means for your candidature

The researcher graduate qualities have been designed to help guide students and supervisors through a student's PhD candidature. During your supervision meetings, the graduate qualities will provide you with a point-of-reference to contemplate your achievement of skills and experience as your candidature progresses, and to have a conversation with your supervisor about further development opportunities or training you may need while you complete your thesis project.

How to update your Research graduate qualities record

After your supervision meetings, you will need to log your graduate qualities discussion in RECS. Log into RECS, select ‘My project’, then ‘Researcher graduate qualities’. Here you can review previous submission by selecting the relevant date or you can add a new record. Once you have completed a new record, there is an option to send to your supervisor for comment.

The eleven qualities

Researcher graduate qualities for the PhD


Deep expertise

To possess expert, world-standard knowledge in an area of specialisation, a mastery of relevant research methods and the capability to contribute to scholarship and knowledge discovery.

Cultural competence

To display high levels of cultural competence and embody best practice with regard to cultural competence in research.

Interdisciplinary effectiveness

To work effectively in interdisciplinary settings to develop a broader perspective, innovative vision and the capacity to work effectively within national and international research and innovation systems.

Professional, ethical, personal identity

To exercise integrity, confidence and resilience.


To be professionally and socially responsible and make a positive contribution to society, and to recognise and promote the implications of own research in a broader societal context.

Researcher graduate qualities for the PhD - broader skills


Critical thinking and problem-solving

To display high-level capabilities in critical thinking and problem-solving and a commitment to lifelong learning and discovery.

Communication (oral and written)

To have excellent oral and written communication skills relevant to specialist and general audiences.

Information and digital literacy

To evaluate and utilise contemporary digital tools, resources and technologies.


To be innovative and creative in response to novel problems, and to be willing to take risks.


To display high-level capabilities in disseminating research, and build an understanding of one's own research in a broader context by participating in engagement with end-users of research.

Project planning and delivery

To plan, manage and deliver research projects effectively.

Last updated: 14 October 2022

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