Throughout your research degree your progression will be monitored by a series of supervisor meetings, assessments and evaluations to review your progress, address any issues you might have, and help you move on to the next stage.
Find out more about the different stages involved in monitoring your progression and development below:
The Learning Agreement will be the focus of your first two supervision sessions and must be completed and submitted within the first three months of your candidature (this is the case for both part-time and full-time students). This is not a static document and should be reviewed regularly and updated annually, with your supervisors.
Training sessions on how to complete your Learning Agreement occur throughout the year.
The Interim Assessment is the first formal point along the MPhil/PhD and DProf (research component) programmes where the progression of the student is assessed by independent experts and a decision is made as to whether the student should continue or transfer their studies to a higher or lower award.
The Interim Assessment takes place between months 9 and 11 for full-time students, or months 15 and 20 if you are part-time, or months 27 and 33 if you are on a professional doctorate study. This timeframe ensures that should you need to repeat your assessment, you have time to do so before your deadline for registration for the following year.
For students registered on the MPhil programme, the Interim Assessment provides an opportunity to transfer to the higher award PhD programme. For existing PhD/DProf students, the assessment determines whether students continue on the PhD/DProf programme or are recommended to be transferred to a lower award.
You will be required to present a short paper about your research project describing your progress and plans for the future. You will also have to attend an oral examination. It is your responsibility to ensure your paper is your own original work.
Annual Progress Report
Supervisors complete an annual report on each of the students they supervise. They provide a summary of
progress to date, any issues arising, research training requirements, and overall position of the student in the
lifecycle. As with the Self-Evaluation Report, the annual progress report is compulsory and considered by the PGR support team for noting any issues.
Annual Self-Evaluation Report
You must complete a Self-Evaluation Report at the end of each registered year. This report enables you
to reflect upon your progress on an annual basis, as well as reporting on supervisory and facilities arrangements. The report goes to the PGR support team who will note any issues arising from the
evaluation, so that they can be addressed in an appropriate way.
Completion of the Self-Evaluation Report is compulsory. It is important for you to reflect on a regular basis on your own progress, as it gives the opportunity to ‘stand back’ from the detail of the doctoral research and assess the extent to which this is progressing in a coherent and focused manner. In comparing progress with the predicted progress set out in the learning agreement, you can provide a considered statement of how and where the research is going, and identify any problem areas, potential or actual.
Equally, the Self-Evaluation Report is an opportunity to comment upon supervisory support and research centre facilities. It is important that students provide an honest appraisal in order for us to be in a position
to respond to any issues and to continually review and enhance the student experience.
This report is a requirement for continuous registration for the degree study but does not contribute to the academic assessment of the study.
The Internal Evaluation is the second formal point along the PhD and DProf (research component) programmes, where the progression of the student is assessed by independent experts and a decision is made as to whether the student should continue on their programme or transfer to a programme with a lower award (MPhil).
Your Internal Evaluation will take place between months 21 and 23 of your candidature if you are a full-time student, months 35 and 40 if you are part-time, or months 50 and 55 if you are on a professional doctorate study. This timeframe ensures you are able to repeat, should it be required, before your deadline for registration for the following year.
The evaluation of your progress is important at this juncture to determine whether you have developed your research to a sufficient standard that will lead to a PhD/DProf award. Where progress is sub-standard (and would not achieve the level of the higher PhD or lower MPhil award) the Internal Evaluation panel have the authority to recommend termination of a student’s candidature.
The Viva Exam
As a doctoral candidate, once you have submitted your thesis, you will be required to attend an oral examination called a viva voce. The examination will normally take place within two months of submission. Your supervisor will inform you early on of the arrangements.
Your lead supervisor will attend the viva voce unless you request otherwise. They cannot play an active role in the examination, but may act as a minute taker. Instead, questions will come from two examiners, an internal and an external (note that there are exceptions, e.g. staff candidates require two externals; and EngD requires two externals and one internal).
Each viva is an individual experience and dependent upon your thesis and the thoughts of the examiners.
It is important that you don’t panic about the viva, read through your work beforehand to re-familiarise yourself with it and talk to your personal tutor, your lead supervisor, or someone else who has experienced a viva voce, about any concerns that you may have. Remember: the examiners are interested in what you have to say – treat the viva as a unique opportunity to talk about your work to a rapt audience, and make the most of the experience.
Examiners will recommend one of the following:
/ That the degree be awarded, subject if necessary to ‘minor’ or ‘major’ amendments being made to the thesis within a specifi ed time (either one month or three months);
/ That you be required to attend for a further oral examination;
/ That you be permitted to submit, within 12 months, a revised thesis for the same degree for re-examination on a subsequent occasion;
/ That for a PhD candidate you be given permission to apply for the degree of MPhil with or without re-examination;
/ That no degree is awarded and resubmission is not permitted.
The final year of your research degree is called the completion year; full-time students are permitted one year within which to complete and have their thesis examined and the award ratified. Part-time students are permitted two years to complete and have their thesis examined and the award ratified. The completion phase includes:
/ Submitting your Notice of Presentation to the research office (e.g. latest month 41 for full time PhD candidates).
/ Having your viva - variable due to examiner availability; it should be around, for example months 43-44 for a full time PhD candidate, but it is the responsibility of the supervisor to ensure examiners are going to be available.
/ Completing any corrections, corrections signed off and submission of your final electronic copy of your thesis - within one to three months of your viva, depending on the date specified on the letter. Please ensure you allow sufficient time for examiner sign off.
/ Submitting an electronic final corrected version of your PhD or masters by research thesis to USIR, our institutional repository.
/ Ratification of final award by the Postgraduate Research Awards Board – (e.g. latest month 48 for full time PhD candidates). The awards board only takes place every three months.
The Notice of Presentation is completed by the student and supervisor, the student will complete part A and pass to their supervisor along with the final abstract, then the supervisor will complete part B and pass the form to the research office.