Communities of Practice

What is a Community of Practice (CoP)?

Communities of Practice (CoPs) are groups of people who are connected by a shared expertise, profession, and set of activities. At the University, we already have CoPs with identified practice areas such as Education Administration, HR Operations and Executive/Personal Assistants.
Members of such a community actively support each other through collaboration, knowledge sharing and the fostering of new approaches to mutual problems.
CoPs can play a major part in helping to break down silos, improve work processes, support career development and increase role satisfaction for their members.

3 core elements of CoPs

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Whilst the University’s devolved structure is part of our success, our Professional Services staff can benefit from being better connected to others working in the same practice area.
Communities of Practice address this and deliver benefits to our Professional Services staff on an individual, team and organisational level:

Why are we building CoPs

CoPs have already made a positive impact across the University. A survey of CoP members in 2023 found that 84% of participants reported a positive impact on their collaboration with others while 86% considered that their community reflected Professional Services Together’s priority of sharing ideas across divisions:

"(I most enjoyed the) Peer support - a wealth of institutional knowledge is otherwise lost and untapped. I was able to access resources and brainstorm on project ideas. This was hugely beneficial not only because I am alone in supporting research at my home faculty but also in terms of interdisciplinarity." CoP Member

“The CoP has helped me learn different ways to go about my role. How to connect with more people, how to interact with people, how to encourage/ influence people to join your network and what you can offer them in return for doing so.” CoP Member

You can read the full report and learn about the achievements of different communities here.

How can I get involved?

If you would like to become a CoP member, have a look at our Connecting with People page to identify a community in your area.

To start a CoP, or simply to learn more about the CoP model, please explore our toolkit.

Go to Toolkit


"I wish we had one of these communities when I first started my role. It would have made things so much easier! I’m looking forward to using this community to connect with colleagues across the University, and to share resources, best practice and support. POD have been amazing in supporting us."

Gemma Jennings, EA in the Centre for Medical Discovery.


"Being part of a community of practice is a transformative experience. You gain a sense of perspective, how your work fits into a large organisation – and how valuable it is. The network offers professional support, paths to professional development and opportunities to shape new ways of working."

Dr George Regkoukos, FHEA, RISN Support Coordinator, Research Services.



Alice Chilver, Head of People and Organisational Development, discusses how Professional Services Together is supporting and developing Communities of Practice across the University.

Read article



If you would like to set up a Community of Practice in your practice area, please get in touch with