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Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

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Continuing Professional Development

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is a way for professional geologists to maintain and develop the standards of technical and professional competence required for their work. As well as broadening your knowledge, CPD gives assurance to your employers, and to society in general, that you are professionally competent. 

CPD planning and recording is mandatory for all Chartered Fellows (for Fellows with CGeol and, or, CSci) and for Fellows aspiring to Chartership. Undertaking and recording CPD is also very strongly advised for other Fellows who are professionally active.

Quotation marks

I achieved Chartered Geologist status in November 2022 and, while I found the process challenging, I recognise how much it taught me. In hindsight, I realise I underestimated the requirements and importance of maintaining my CPD record. I viewed it as simply listing my experiences, in a similar way to recording a timesheet, without considering the significance of how these experiences contributed to my professional development. I now understand the value of reflecting on these activities, as it enhances our understanding and growth. Although it can be a natural process, documenting and reflecting on it can highlight our achievements and provide inspiration for further development. 

I still struggle to record my CPD regularly, but I have created my own template based on the Geological Society’s online system to track and link my CPD activities to my development goals. Following the advice of my assessor, I approach my reflections as if I am writing in a diary, assessing my feelings, potential improvements and anticipated outcomes. I am grateful for the opportunity to support my colleagues at RSK in their own Chartership journeys as a mentor and workshop leader, drawing from my own experiences to guide them effectively. Learning from my own challenges has provided valuable insights that I hope can benefit others in their professional growth.

Quotation marks

- Dr Charlotte Usher CGeol FGS

 Dr Charlotte Usher

The Society’s definition of Continuing Professional Development (or CPD) is: 

‘The systematic maintenance, improvement and broadening of knowledge and skills, and the development of personal qualities necessary for carrying out professional and technical duties throughout a working life.’

CPD chart

The Geological Society’s CPD scheme is a cyclical, reflective system of plan act → reflect based on experiential learning. 

It is flexible, to allow a range of activities to be recorded against personal set goals, solely time-based on hours (no longer a weighted points-based system), and made up of six main categories of activities:

     •  Formal learning
     •  Formal learning On-the-job
     •  Information learning or training
     •  Self-directed study
     •  Professional practice
     •  Other

Essentially, CPD includes any activity that helps improve your work-related knowledge and skills. These activities can vary from formal learning, such as attending conferences, to informal activities like reading relevant books and journals. There are no strict rules about what you must do; it's up to you to decide what's needed. If you're unsure whether an activity counts towards CPD, think about how it benefits your professional development plan (PDP). If it helps enhance your skills or knowledge relevant to your work or career, then it's acceptable.

Helpful tools:

CPD Look Up Table: A table featuring the most common and popular CPD activities, each assigned to specific categories. 

See the CPD Look Up Table

CPD Mind Map – This is a visual representation that outlines the various areas of professional development and learning activities undertaken by an individual to enhance their skills, knowledge, and competencies within their field or profession. It serves as a structured tool to plan and organise CPD activities.

See the CPD Mind Map

Click on the image below to view a larger version of the CPD Mind Map 

CPD Mind Map

You have several options for recording your CPD: 

     •  on the MyGSL Portal
     •  using your company template
     •  using the GSL Logbook
     •  using your own spreadsheet

If you choose to record outside of MyGSL, remember to adhere to GSL Guidance.

Tips for ensuring effective CPD recording:
1. Ensure your CPD follows the 'plan → act → reflect' approach

Start by outlining your aims and objectives for the year, record your CPD activities and, at the end of the year, add an annual review to reflect on what you achieve.

Each CPD activity should have:

       an event date
       a CPD category
       a brief description of the event, including a note of the provider (if it is a course)
       the time spent
       evidence of participation - keep a record! 

Your completed CPD should have:

       a statement of planned goals and objectives
       a summary of hours gained in each CPD category
       a short reflection on what was achieved
       an indication of which objectives were not achieved, and why
       a brief discussion of events undertaken that were not in the plan

2. Set up a five-year plan outlining your professional development goals
3. Establish a weekly reminder to update your CPD records

Consistency simplifies the process and updating CPD while activities are fresh in your mind ensures robust records and maximises learning outcomes.

For Chartership candidates: There is a separate CPD upload field on the application form and you can upload your CPD in any format as long as your record follows a 'plan → act → reflect' approach.

For Chartered Fellows: A number of Chartered Geologists and Chartered Scientists are selected each year for an audit of their CPD records in order to ensure that they are maintaining their records. If selected, you will be required to present a written account of your CPD activities.

In MyGSL, log in and navigate to 'Manage CPD', then navigate to the 'Track your CPD' page. 

Currently, uploading documents to the GSL CPD system in MyGSL is unavailable. Please continue recording your CPD without uploading supporting documents. 

For Chartership Applicants, please note that CPD supporting evidence is not required as part of the Chartership application. We only request the record of your CPD. 


If you are copying from another document, such as Word, use Notepad or TextEdit to strip out any formatting before pasting into the sections.


Do not use special characters in Activity and Goal title.


There will be a CPD Term tab for each year.


Start by adding Personal Development Goal(s), then add activities associated with your personal goals.


Target hours are based on your employment status, which can be edited in your profile.


If you are recording CPD elsewhere you can notify the Society by selecting the check box.


If you have recorded CPD using the previous online system (pre-2016), your activity will be in read-only format.


You can record CPD activity for the previous year until June of the current year.


First steps

Personal Development Goals:
To start recording activity, you need to add at least one 'Personal Development Goal'. Select the Personal Development Goal button, add a title (do not include special characters) and a description. Save the goal.




To add an activity, click the ‘Add Activity’ button. Your Personal Development Goals and the list of Activity types will show with associated radio buttons. Select the relevant fields to associate the Activity with your Personal Development Goal, then add dates, description detail and relevant documents. Save the Activity. 

You can add more than one goal, and more than one activity against each goal. 

To view the activity logged, navigate to the 'Your personal development goal' panel by selecting the downward arrow on the right-hand side. You can also edit or delete the activity detail. 

The graphs and targets track your progress and are updated each time an activity is added. 


Overall reflection

To add an overall reflection for the year, navigate to the bottom of the page and select 'Add' in the 'Your overall reflection for CPD Term YYYY' panel, and save.

It is recommended that you record at least 90 hours of CPD (Continuing Professional Development) for each year if you are in full-time employment. A minimum of 30 hours must be from on-the-job-learning. 

The remaining 60 hours (= 90 - 30 hours) of CPD should be spread across at least two of the other five CPD categories. See the CPD Mind Map 

     •  Formal learning
     •  On-the-job
     •  Informal learning or training
     •  Self-directed study
     •  Professional practice
     •  Other

Work status of Fellow

Min. annual CPD, total hours

Min. total CPD hours in on-the-job learning

Max. annual carry-over over excess hours

Early career (pre-Chartership) Fellows




All Fellows in full-time employment, or on sabbatical leave




All Fellows in part-time employment (e.g. work sharing)




All Fellows on extended leave (careers, parental leave, prolonged illness, etc) (but with special pre-arranged GSL dispensation, 50% of these hours may, exceptionally be allowed)




Retired Fellows offering occasional professional services or who wish to retain their chartered status, and unemployed Fellows




Retired Fellows not offering professional services or who do not wish to retain their chartered status




See the CPD Regulations

Exceptions: The CPD scheme is designed to take into account changes in your working patterns which may make it difficult or impossible for you to meet the usual targets set out. (For details, see regulations: R/FP/13 section 5.3 table.1) 

CPD Audit: A number of Chartered Geologists and Chartered Scientists are selected each year for an audit of their CPD records, in order to ensure that they are maintaining their records. If selected, you will be required to present a written account of their CPD activities.
All working Chartered Fellows, including EurGeol, who do not fully engage with and complete their CPD annually, risk having to rescind their Chartered and EurGeol status.

If you are applying for Chartership with The Geological Society, a record of CPD activities for at least the last three years must be included with your application in the CPD section of the application. (CPD Supporting Documents are not required unless requested by the Assessors). 

The record may be produced using the Society’s online system – although a company scheme records, or your own spreadsheet, is acceptable provided it meets the The Geological Society CPD scheme criteria. Note that all CPD must demonstrate learning. It is not intended to capture routine day-to-day professional practice activity.


Top tips for planning your CPD and for completing your CPD records from Chartership Assessors

From David Lawton, BSc MSc CGeol FGS


Your CPD is key to demonstrating how you as a professional geoscientist maintain and develop the standards of technical and professional competence required for your work and for your selected field of competency.


As well as broadening your own knowledge, CPD gives assurance to your employers, clients, partners, peers and to society in general, that you as a Chartered person are professionally competent.


Your CPD record is primarily your record.  It is not just for the assessors or the Chartership team. It should not be viewed as something just for your Chartership application, but it will need to be continued in the years to come. Keeping CPD records is a requirement of maintaining your chartered status.


CPD helps you steer and monitor your own training and personal development.  It should demonstrate that you have planned your training needs for the year, then acted on the plan and finally reflected on the learning outcomes on what you have achieved and what impact this might have on your professional work (plan → act → reflect).


Activities recorded should address across the chartership competencies and will also reflect the stage of your career progression. It should include a range of activities (not just geoscience learnings) but also things like industry awareness, technology developments, business skills, management skills, HS&E learnings, coaching and mentoring.


It should include any mandatory training, certification or recertification that is required as part of your professional role.


CPD records for ‘on the job’ activities should include things that are new to you, for example where you have learnt about a new area or stratigraphy or have done something new such as taken the lead on a project, used a new evaluation technique or presented at a project meeting or conference.


Maintain your CPD records via ‘My GSL’ which is accessible from the society website.  If you are storing your records elsewhere, you still need to complete the CPD section and ‘tick’ the box for stating that you are storing your records elsewhere.


You are likely to be questioned on your CPD and CPD plans during your Chartership interview and so be prepared to talk about your recent activities and plans that you have for the future.


There are number of Geological Society training courses available along with thematic conferences, all of which contribute towards CPD.

Quotation marks

A CPD record should not be simply a work diary – although such a thing is very useful for other purposes – but it should reflect work that is new for the candidate; presents a challenge; is an expansion of professional experience; or includes contributions to the profession outside of the paid employment. Carrying out a routine task, for instance a drilling project, but in a completely new geological environment offers valid CPD. 

Linked to the above there is a judgement required as to the time claimed as an area of work moves from new and challenging to routine. For a new experience or project it will be valid to claim almost all of the time involved, then for the second and subsequent similar projects a reducing hours claim until by the fourth or fifth project a candidate is less challenged by that area of work. 

It is good to see an interest in geological fields outside of candidate’s paid employment and for that to be demonstrated by reading or attendance at meetings or active involvement. This could include anything from keeping informed about planetary geophysics to promoting the earth sciences at schools.

Quotation marks

- Duncan Wardrop BSc, CGeol, CEng, CSci, MIMMM, FGS 


CPD Mind Map: A CPD (Continuing Professional Development) mind map is a visual representation that outlines the various areas of professional development and learning activities undertaken by an individual to enhance their skills, knowledge, and competencies within their field or profession. It serves as a structured tool to plan and organise CPD activities
CPD Look Up Table: A table featuring the most common and popular Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities, each assigned to specific categories
CPD FAQs: A collection of frequently-asked questions related to Continuing Professional Development
CPD Regulations
A Guide to Compliant CPD
CPD Logbook

We have developed a specialist training programme to support key areas within geoscience. All Training Courses are endorsed by independent reviewers and are led by a fantastic range of industry experts, helping you advance your career. Whilst most Training Courses are held online, we also hold in-person courses. Our Training Courses are impactful for geoscientists at any career stage and can be used as part of your continuing professional development (CPD). 

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