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Postgraduate research studies at a glance

PostgraduateStudents are provided with an induction event which offers them opportunities to understand the institutional, academic and research environment within which they will be working.

To help ensure that new research degree students commence their studies with an understanding of the environment, this event includes:

  • An opportunity for new students to meet other students and learn essential information about their experience as a student at the University.
  • An introduction to the University's online learning resources via the Portal, and the role of key people such as the hub postgraduate research coordinator, director of studies, librarians, student services, and their student representative.
  • A detailed overview of the institutional arrangements and policies relating to the provision of research degrees.

Research proposals

Research degree students must have their research project approved by the research degrees committee, normally within six months of registration for full-time students and twelve months for part-time students.

Where a project proposal is not approved, the student will be given an opportunity to resubmit their proposal. If, after the student has been given the opportunity to remedy defects, the proposal remains unsatisfactory, the research degrees committee will normally withdraw registration.


Students are expected to transfer from MPhil registration to PhD, normally between 12-18 months of full-time study (24-36 months for part-time study).

The transfer process is a valuable opportunity to take stock of what has been achieved, and, even more useful, what still needs to be done before the student can submit a successful thesis. It is also one of the occasions when students get careful feedback from experienced academics who are not directly involved in their project. Experience has taught us that successful negotiation of the transfer process substantially increases the likelihood of timely completion of a PhD thesis.

Students will then submit their thesis and undergo a transfer viva voce examination. If they are studying for a PhD via transfer from MPhil, at the mid-point of their studies they will undergo a transfer viva voce where they will need to demonstrate that they have made sufficient progress on their work and provide evidence of the development to PhD.


Supervisors regularly monitor the work carried out by their research degree students and provide feedback on the quality of the student’s work. In addition, the University has formal mechanisms to review the progress of its research degree students.

There are two formal monitoring points which are:

1. Independent review

  • As part of the independent review, the student meets with an experienced supervisor (who is not part of the supervisory team). The meeting leads to the production of a joint report agreed by the student and the reviewer on the student’s progress.
  • The hub scrutiny panel examines the outcome of the independent review and feeds back to the research degrees committee.

2. Progression review

  • The student and the director of studies complete separate reports, then meet to discuss the content of these reports. The meeting may lead to the amendment of those reports.
  • The hub scrutiny panel examines the outcome of the progression review in the form of the two reports and recommends to the research degrees committee renewal (or not) of registration.
  • If the research degrees committee agrees that progress has been unsatisfactory, it will agree the action plan put forward by the hub for the student; and the student will be subject to a three months period of probation. If there is no improvement in the student’s performance at the end of the period, the research degrees committee will normally request the withdrawal of the student’s registration, or in the case of a PhD registration, the student may be offered the opportunity to re-register for an MPhil.


The director of studies and student should agree a timetable for completion in order to allow sufficient time for the following:

  • Comments and feedback from the supervisors on the thesis
  • Agreement of the thesis title
  • Length of the thesis
  • Appointment of examiners
  • Online submission of the thesis to Turnitin
  • Submission of the soft bound thesis and the accompanying creative work, where applicable, to Academic Services
  • Preparation for the viva (ie mock viva).


The final examination is by assessment of the thesis, and creative work, where applicable, as well as viva.

The viva is chaired by an independent chair whose role is as follows:

  • Ensuring that regulations are applied and procedures followed before, during and after the viva
  • Safeguarding the candidate's interests
  • Ultimate responsibility for the way the viva is conducted
  • Responsible for the due completion of all paperwork associated with the viva.

The viva is conducted by at least two examiners, one of whom must be external to the University. The supervisor is not part of the assessment process, though may, by agreement, be present at the viva.

Page last updated on Wednesday 2 March 2016 at 3.33pm.


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