professional development
Continuing professional development
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is a cornerstone to career success and the IOP is passionate about supporting our members in achieving their careers goals and increasing the professionalism of physics and physicists through CPD.

Continuing professional development (CPD) is a combination of approaches, ideas and techniques that help you to manage your learning and growth. This could mean maintaining skills, developing them to a new level, or learning new ones that will allow your current role to expand, prepare you for a promotion, or help you to volunteer in a professional capacity.

There are a variety of CPD resources and opportunities within the IOP, including:

The Career Development Hub – houses a range of learning resources in a variety of formats. Topics in the hub include resilience, project management, leadership, communication, management, business skills, CV writing and virtual interviews.   

Physics World, the world’s leading physics magazine - each edition covers the big stories and issues that matter to scientists in all parts of the world, including features from acclaimed physicists and science writers, comprehensive news and analysis, and incisive opinion pieces.

Our special-interest groups and branches enable you to continue to develop your
knowledge and stay connected with the physics community.

Conferences – The IOP hosts many different conferences, from one day to week-long events. The subjects are wide ranging from scattering atoms, electrons and perceptions to food physics.

Volunteering – there are a number of volunteering roles within the IOP. We organise and attend outreach events across the UK and Ireland bringing physics to new audiences and engagement opportunities for the physics community. There are several committees that feed into the Board of Trustees (Council) e.g. finance, membership, and diversity & inclusion. Professional registration panellists review applications to ensure applicants meet the criteria for becoming professionally registered.

HEaTED - the IOP has partnered with HEaTED to offer our members working in technical roles a range of professional development opportunities. Whether you hold professional registration and want to maintain your CPD, or you’re just starting out in your career, there are over 250 specialist technical courses available, with discounts available for IOP members.

Undertaking and recording your CPD

The IOP is not prescriptive as to what your CPD activities are and the categories they fall under, but we do encourage you to undertake CPD in multiple categories, where possible. The learning categories, as described by the IOP, are professional, self-directed, formal/educational, work-based and informal learning.

How to plan, carry out and evaluate your CPD

There are a number of ways in which you can approach planning, undertaking and evaluating your CPD, but we would like to share with you a four-step plan that makes this process simple – Plan, Act, Record, Reflect (PARR):

  1. Plan – consider your professional role and set your benchmark
  2. Act – address your learning and development needs
  3. Record – document your CPD activity
  4. Reflect – evaluate what you have learned

For an example CPD record, please view our CPD guidance document

Keeping a CPD record

A CPD record should cover the activity undertaken, its purpose, what was gained, your reflection on its benefits and next steps. If you have multiple roles, specialisations or areas of interest, this should be reflected in your records and the examples provided.

You are responsible for maintaining your CPD record. IOP members can use the MY CPD tool in our Career Development Hub to log their CPD activity, accessible here. For step-by-step guidance on how to access and record your learning in the My CPD tool please view this My CPD Guide.

You are also free to use your own format to record your CPD. A simple spreadsheet with activities presented in a chronological order would suffice. If you already record your CPD on another platform or template, you may continue to do so – we do not expect you to duplicate your work. Regardless of the format, the following must be included for each activity:

  • When did you complete this activity?
  • What activity have you completed?
  • Why did you choose this activity?
  • What did you learn as a result of this activity?
  • How did you and other benefits from you completing this activity?
  • As a result of this activity, what are your next developmental steps?
  • Which learning category does your activity fall under?

For a more detailed explanation of the activities that fall into these categories, please view our CPD guidance document for the learning categories.

Reflective practice

Reflective practice is an active method of considering your thoughts and actions. It is particularly useful for capturing learning from informal activities. It is a way of thinking meaningfully about activities and identifying progress, and turns your learning into CPD.

Below is a selection of reflective practice questions. For a more comprehensive list of questions, please view our CPD guidance document      

  1. What…
    • What is the situation?
    • What was I trying to achieve?   
  1.  So what…
    • What do I know about this?
    • What is the importance of this?
  2. Now what…
    • What should I do?
    • What will I do differently?

Maintaining your professional registration

If you hold a professional registration, you will need to undertake CPD activities, reflect upon your learning and keep a record to maintain your registration. Our CPD guidance document contains information to support you with this process.  

Information on maintaining your professional registration is on its dedicated page.

Get in touch
If you have a CPD query that is not covered on our website or you would like further advice or support, please email [email protected] or call 020 7470 4800 to speak to one of our registration officers.