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CPD Frequently asked questions

What is continuing professional development (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.

What is a reflective CPD record?

A reflective CPD record helps you to consolidate your learning and develop a deeper understanding of what you’ve learnt. It also supports you in identifying and implementing new behaviours and processes, planning future CPD activities, and converting your learning into action.

How do I know if I need to submit a CPD record, and how long am I given to produce my record?

As a holder of a professional registration with the IOP, you will be contacted by the Membership team to submit your CPD record, or declare that you are not professionally active. You will then have three months to submit your CPD record.

How do I declare I am not professionally active?

You will need to speak to someone from the membership team to confirm you are not professionally active.

I am not professionally active, what should my record consist of?

Your record should simply consist of the type of activities you’ve undertaken and month/year completed. For example, ‘Read an article in Physics World on photonics, November 2023’.

Will I lose my professional registration if I am not professionally active?

No, providing you are undertaking CPD and keeping a record of your activities, you can still keep your professional registration. However, you will need to declare you are not professionally active and the membership team will update your record accordingly. By making this declaration you will not be required to submit a reflective CPD record.

If I am on a break from practice, do I have to submit a CPD record?

A break in practice can include maternity/paternity/adoption leave, ill-health, a sabbatical, or taking time out of work to care for a dependant and therefore you can request an exemption. However, we will also consider circumstances that may fall outside of the above on a case-by-case basis. 

A break in practice can be up to three years, after which you will be asked to submit a CPD record. Three years is currently the maximum period of time stipulated by several professional and regulatory bodies.

CPD support for IOP members

Continuing professional development

CPD activities for members

The IOP is committed to providing a range of CPD activities for our members to achieve their career goals and increase the professionalism of physicists.

CPD activities


CPD drop-ins

Join us for one of our online CPD drop-in sessions, exclusively for members who hold a professional registration with the IOP. These sessions are designed to support with maintaining your registration.

Join a CPD drop-in

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