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Continuing professional development

Continuing professional development (CPD)

What is CPD?

Continuing professional development (CPD) refers to the undertaking of learning and developmental activities that contributes to your ongoing professional competency. This could mean maintaining, developing or learning skills that can help you to retain your expertise, enhance your credibility, prepare you for a promotion, or to embrace new challenges.

What learning activities count?

The IOP encourages members to undertake a broad range of CPD activities to enhance their learning. This can include reading journals and articles; learning from colleagues by sharing information and exchanging ideas; coaching and mentoring; volunteering and engaging in professional activities; attending conferences and undertaking online learning.

What are the learning categories?

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.

"I used IOP’s accreditation and fellowship routes to identify and work on competencies that have enabled me to become a better scientist and engineer."

David Homfray CPhys CEng FInstP

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IOP CPD resources and opportunities

Career Development Hub

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.


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.


There are a number of volunteering roles within the IOP including outreach activities. We organise and attend outreach events across the UK and Ireland bringing physics to new audiences. Members also volunteer on a variety of committees and panels.


Looking Glass is a podcast from the Institute of Physics. Now in its third series, it looks at some of the most pressing challenges we face as a society and explores the ways in which physics can help address them.

Member Networks

Our special-interest groups, branches, nations and university student community enable you to continue to get involved, develop your knowledge, skills and stay connected with the physics community.

Champion excellence with a professional registration

Professional registration

Get registered

Professional registration provides independent recognition of your skills, knowledge and achievements; and demonstrates your ongoing commitment to further developing your skills and knowledge, and consistently behaving to high standards.

Professional registrations are highly regarded by peers and employers.

Which professional registration is right for you?

Professional registration

Maintaining your 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.   

For more information on CPD drop-in sessions check back soon.

CPD guidance

Undertaking and recording your CPD

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):

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

For an example CPD record, please view our CPD guidance document (PDF, 498KB)

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.

Maintaining your CPD record

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. For step-by-step guidance on how to access and record your learning in the My CPD tool please view the My CPD Guide (PDF, 1MB).

CPD recording format

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?

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.

Reflective practice questions

Below is a selection of reflective practice questions. For a more comprehensive list of questions, please view our CPD guidance document (PDF, 498KB).       

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

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