Continuing Professional Development for Registered Professionals

Definitions and examples of learning activities

Registered professionals’ continuing professional development (CPD) should be a mixture of learning activities relevant to current or future practice and should include activities in at least three (exceptionally two) of the following categories:

  1. Work based learning
  2. Professional activity
  3. Formal / Educational
  4. Self-directed learning
  5. Other

The Science Council website has generic descriptions of the categories and activities under those categories, and will give you a good overview of what you should be doing as part of your CPD. This paper gives specific examples of the sorts of CPD opportunity available to a typical OR applicant.

Descriptions of the different categories (taken from the Science Council guidance) considered from an OR standpoint

Work based learning

Work based learning is professional development that takes place by fulfilling the current job role. Such development naturally takes place as experience is gained in the role, greater independence and responsibility is given, and the complexity and scope of work undertaken increases. Work based learning also includes in-house learning activities and development opportunities that are provided by the employer as part of staff orientation and development in support of organisational performance and objectives.

Work based learning examples are generally covered by the Science Council guidance. One further opportunity available to OR professionals is:

  • Specifying and supervising a student project (MSc or placement student). The OR Society can put you in touch with universities that operate external MSc summer project schemes

Professional activity

Professional activities that support professional development include participating in the management and organisation of a professional body; and also participating in activities that develop the professional skills and knowledge of other professionals, and participating in activities that apply scientific expertise in the wider community.

Professional activity CPD opportunities for ORS members:

  • Become involved in the management of The OR Society by standing for election to Council, or the committee of your regional society, or a special interest group
  • Join the organising committee of one of our many events: the annual conference, Analytics Summit, or biannual conferences such as New to OR or Simulation Workshop
  • Offer to referee a journal paper; or to become a member of the editorial team of one of our journals
  • Supervise an MSc summer project, or student placement, to help newcomers understand the art of OR in practice
  • Be an active member of a special interest group, organising relevant events and speaking or otherwise contributing
  • Organise streams or sessions at OR Society conferences, regional society meetings, and other OR events.
  • Volunteer for OR in Schools, and visit schools or universities to build awareness and understanding of OR
  • Volunteer for Pro Bono OR, for the double benefit of extending your own professional experience and enabling OR to be applied in the wider community
  • Network with professionals in other organisations, through OR Society fora such as conferences, group meetings, etc.
  • If you are a member of another professional society, initiate the organisation of a joint event to promote interaction and synergies across different professions

Formal / educational

Formal/educational professional development includes the participation in activities that lead to gaining academic/professional qualifications and the attendance at structured learning activities organised by professional bodies, learned societies or training providers; and also the preparation of papers, articles or presentations for a professional audience.

Formal / educational examples for OR Society members:

  • Come to one of the many OR Society training courses on aspects of OR theory and practice
  • Undertake distance learning such as the Strathclyde OR programme, or Open University systems programme; or e-learning activities  such as MOOCs; taking your pick from the MOOC selection highlighted on the ORS website, or otherwise.
  • Write an article for Inside OR, or for Impact, or for one of the many OR peer-reviewed journals.
  • Give a presentation at OR or ORS conferences, Regional Society or SIG meetings, or other professional events
  • Attend one of our annual or biennial conferences, Blackett and Beale Lectures, Regional and SIG meetings, or other professional events

Self-directed learning

Self-directed learning takes place when the individual takes the initiative in diagnosing learning needs, formulating learning goals, designing learning experiences, identifying and using human and material resources and evaluating learning outcomes.

Self-directed learning examples for ORS members

  • Join the OR Society LinkedIn or Facebook groups, and follow the OR Society on Twitter, and engage with the conversations started there
  • Explore the OR Society document repository for papers and presentations of interest
  • Monitor the contents of the OR Society journals, EJOR, Interfaces etc to identify and read papers of interest
  • Sign up to webinars
  • Read some of the classic literature


Activities which may not require scientific expertise, but which help develop transferable skills and gain experiences that are valuable in the current professional role or in future career directions. These would include involvement in strategic activities for the employer; and activities carried out outside of professional life.

Other examples are well-covered by the Science Council guidance. They are particularly significant for an OR career, because OR is about applying the scientific method to human activity and decision-making, and the other examples give you the chance to get involved in human activity and decision-making beyond your immediate work environment. This in turn will help you increase your knowledge and understanding of the domain area to which you apply your skills.

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