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Issue 1.0
March 2013

INCOSE UK Logo

What is Continuing Professional Development (CPD)?

CPD is:

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) – "a structured approach to learning to help ensure competence to practice, taking in knowledge, skills and practical experience. CPD can involve any relevant learning activity, whether formal and structured or informal and self-directed.”

INCOSE UK Chapter definition

INCOSE UK believes that Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is an essential activity for every individual who is actively practising systems engineering.

kolb's learning Cycle

Why do CPD?

As a practising Systems Engineer CPD can help to:

  • Maintain or improve performance in your present role;
  • Equip you for the changing demands of your present role;
  • Equip you for a new role;
  • Equip you for a change in the tasks and responsibilities of your job;
  • Develop you towards higher level responsibilities;
  • Improve your flexibility within a team;
  • Enhance and complement your best talents;
  • Boost your confidence;
  • Learn from others.

INCOSE UK Policy


  • Practising Systems Engineers are responsible for planning and managing their own CPD;
  • Practising Systems Engineers should maintain CPD records even if not mandated by a third party;
  • Practising Systems Engineers should obtain relevant Professional Registration (or their national equivalent) at the earliest practical stage of their career, and should maintain registration;
  • Practising Systems Engineers who are Professionally Registered should perform at least as much CPD as required by the body with whom they are registered, and no less than INCOSE requires for maintenance of CSEP;
  • Practising Systems Engineers should obtain and maintain Systems Engineering Certification at the earliest practical stage of their career, and move through the levels of the scheme as appropriate.

Effective CPD is about understanding the benefits of what you have learnt and how you will use this to enhance you day-to-day life as a Systems Engineer.


Planning and Implementing Effective CPD

CPD is personal and your individual CPD needs will be unique to you and your own particular situation, however the following provide a number of considerations for developing your CPD plan:

  • Your personal career aspirations;
  • Professional Registration CPD requirements;
  • Systems Engineering Certification CPD requirements;
  • Mapping your current skills, knowledge and attitudes to the INCOSE UK Competency Framework;
  • Formal performance appraisals;
  • Introduction of new processes and tools;
  • Business and team capability reviews;
  • Your employer’s strategy;
  • Corporate and team business plans;
  • Legislation and statutory obligations.

The process diagram below provides an example of an approach to undertaking CPD.

CPD Process Diagram

CPD Methods

There are an extensive number of avenues that can be used to fulfil your professional development requirements including:

  • In-house courses;
  • External courses (from Training providers or Universities);
  • Work-based learning, e.g. codes observed, conflicts resolved;
  • Distance learning programmes;
  • Self-directed private study;
  • Preparation and delivery of lectures and presentations;
  • Preparation of refereed papers;
  • Attendance at lectures, seminars or conferences;
  • Coaching, tutoring, monitoring, teaching;
  • Secondment and special projects;
  • Relevant voluntary work.

The table below relates the methods to the knowledge and experiential elements of competence. The table has two columns representing the traditional “hard” skills, and the increasingly recognised “soft” skills.

Knowledge and experiential elements of competence

CPD Planning

Planning your CPD helps you understand the specific opportunity areas for your personal development. You should formally record all your CPD activities to assist you with tracking your progress and to help the identification of new development opportunities.


CPD Terms & Definitions

Professional Registration – independent verification and registration of professional competence with a relevant Licensed Body (e.g. licensed by the Engineering Council or the Science Council in the UK, or equivalent in the individual’s home country). Professional registration schemes expect their members to keep a CPD record, and some schemes require evidence of CPD for renewal/revalidation.

Systems Engineering Certification – Certification (ASEP, CSEP, ESEP) via the INCOSE scheme with its mandatory CPD requirements to maintain certification at ASEP and CSEP levels.


INCOSE UK Support to CPD


  • Promoting CPD through its Policy, public statements, and strategic partnerships;
  • Sharing good practice guidelines and assets to support individual members in planning and managing their own CPD;
  • Supporting UKAB organisations to develop organisational CPD schemes;
  • Supporting and evolving the INCOSE UK SE Competencies Framework.

CPD helps Systems Engineers to achieve the highest standards of professional systems engineering practice.


Do's and Dont's

This leaflet is intended as a brief introduction to Continuing Professional Development as it relates to Systems Engineering.

For further information, advice and links to helpful websites go to: http://www.incoseonline.org.uk/Normal_Files/Professional_Development/Overview.aspx?CatID=Professional_Development

Download copies of this leaflet and other Systems Engineering resources online at: www.incoseonline.org.uk

For more information about the worldwide Systems Engineering professional community, go to: www.incose.org

Series editor: hazel.woodcock@uk.ibm.com
Lead author: ivan.mactaggart@awe.co.uk