Information for Postgraduate Research Students
This section contains information for registered Postgraduate Research Students.
The Role of Supervisors
You should arrange to see your supervisor(s) as soon as possible after your arrival at the University. You need to find out about:
- The organisation of research in your School, laboratory policies, hours of access, keys and security.
- Your desk, and perhaps bench space; shared study and social areas; where notices and information are displayed.
- Health and safety instructions, accident and emergency procedures, laboratory hazards.
- Your research plan, details of any taught programmes you should attend and how your progress will be monitored.
- How you will be supervised: who you should see, how often and where you will meet.
- Who, apart from your supervisor, you can turn to for advice, guidance and help with difficulties.
- The computing facilities provided by the IT service and any School computing resources you may need to use.
Your supervisor(s) is the person responsible to the Faculty for your academic progress and for most administrative matters relating to your registration. How often you meet with your supervisor will depend on your subject and on the stage you have reached in developing research skills. Your supervisor will advise you on how to plan your research, how to carry out the work and how to write it up in reports, publications and your thesis. Your plan of work should be agreed with your supervisor and reviewed periodically.
Much communication in the University is by email and it is vital that you check your email regularly. You will be allocated an email account as part of the enrolment process. Information about the email facility is available from Information Services - IT Services and includes guidance on how to forward emails automatically and how to set up an automated reply when you are unable to read email.
Mail will be sent to you either at your local address or to your School so make sure you know where your pigeonhole is. You must ensure that the University has your current local address and your home address. You can check this and make amendments via your personal pages on the Student Data System.
Research Involving Human Participation
Some research projects will need to have ethical approval. It is very important that approval is granted before work involving any of the following begins:
- clinical populations, vulnerable children or adults (e.g. adults or children with mental health problems or learning disabilities, prisoners, or young offenders)
- the collection of particularly sensitive personal, biographical, medical, psychological information
- or procedures that may upset or offend participants (e.g. presentation of unpleasant stimuli; arousal of emotion)
- use of the internet to conduct the study
This list is not exclusive, and it should be remembered that the purpose of a Research Ethics Group in reviewing the proposed study is to protect the dignity, rights, safety and well-being of all actual or potential research participants.
Students intending to work alone with children or vulnerable adults will require a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check and an application to the Ethics Group is essential.
Students should discuss with their supervisors at an early stage whether they will need to make an application to the Ethics Group. The Guidelines for Conducting Research with Human Participants will help you to decide whether you need to have your project approved. The Checklist for Research Projects Involving Human Participation is required for all projects involving human participation, even if ethical approval is not to be sought. The Checklist should be submitted to the Ethics Group representative in your School.
Assessment of progress
If you are registered for a programme that lasts more than one year (eg MPhil or PhD), confirmation of your registration and continuation of your grant or award for the second and, if appropriate, third year of study will depend on your progress. The aim is to make sure that you have made normal progress, that your research project is within your grasp and that you should be able to complete it within the time available to you. You and your supervisor provide regular written progress reports to the Director of Graduate Studies in your department. If you are registered for an MSc by research your progress will be assessed during your period of study and a recommendation made about your suitability to continue.
Absence from the University
If your research involves you in the need to spend an extended period of time (>3 weeks) away from the University, during your period of registration, you must get permission in advance. For such fieldwork or research, your supervisor must submit a recommendation to the Director of Graduate Studies via the School Administration Manager for a period of fieldwork of one term or more, normally at least one term in advance, indicating:
- the proposed duration of the fieldwork or research
- arrangements for supervision
- if it is envisaged that the research or fieldwork will involve an extension of a student's normal period of registration
CASE Studentships always involve periods spent at the premises of the Co-operating body - with a minimum period of three months away during tenure of a three-year award. These periods of absence are an integral part of the arrangements made for carrying out the contract with the Co-operating Body and as such do not require formal permission from the Faculty Research and Innovation Committee.
Transfer of Registration
If you wish to transfer your registration from one degree to another (i.e from MPhil to PhD) you must first discuss this with your supervisor.
Intermission from Registration
If, for good cause, you decide you must interrupt your studies for a period of time (up to 3 months) while you are registered you should make a request to your School's Director of Graduate Studies via the School Administration Manager for permission to do so. You should give your reasons for needing to intermit and state the period required. You should also ask your supervisor to support your request. A further period of intermission will require the approval of the Associate Dean (Graduate Studies); requests should be made via the School Administration Manager.
It is not possible to intermit once your period as a registered student has ended.
Change from part time to full time and vice versa
If you wish to transfer from full-time to part-time registration, or from part-time to full-time registration you must apply to your School's Director of Graduate Studies. A form is available from your School Office. Your supervisor will be asked to comment on your request.
Withdrawal from the University
If, for some reason, you withdraw from your studies at the University please notify your School's Postgraduate Office in writing immediately and inform your supervisor. It is also necessary for you to write to the University Accommodation Office to advise them of the date you intend to return your keys if you are living in University accommodation.
Completion and Submission of Your Thesis
You may submit your thesis for examination no earlier than 3 months before the end of your registration. It is the expectation of the University that candidates will submit a thesis for examination by the end of the period of registration.
Submission within a 4 year period is a very firm requirement for PhD students since many of the awarding bodies e.g. EPSRC, BBSRC, NERC etc, have a policy which reduces the support to universities where this record of submission is not demonstrated. If you fail to complete the PhD thesis within the 3 year period of registration you will need to get permission to enter the extension year (year 4, see below).
You should discuss with your supervisor your readiness to submit and agree on a detailed plan for preparation. You would be well advised to ask your supervisor to read and comment on your work at an early stage in preparation so that the appropriate style and standard can be achieved in plenty of time. Remember that your supervisor may well need many weeks to read your draft thesis; your supervisor is likely to have conflicting commitments such as examinations or research visits, perhaps abroad. If you have not submitted within the stipulated time frame you will be required to request permission to enter the extension year. The extension year is the 12 month period following the completion of the period of registration.
Permission to enter the extension year is granted by the Director of Graduate Studies (Research). Candidates and their supervisors should apply to the Director of Graduate Studies (Research) no later than 4 weeks prior to the end of the period of registration. Candidates are permitted to enter the extension year provided they are approaching the completion of their registration and have made requisite progress in the production of their thesis so that submission within the year is expected. Candidates who do not meet these criteria may be recommended to continue their registration for a defined period (e.g. 3 or 6 months). Such candidates will be required to register and pay tuition fees for this period.
The decision to allow a candidate to enter the extension year will be based upon consideration of a statement from the candidate of the work undertaken to date, a schedule for the completion of the thesis and a statement from the supervisor. During the extension year candidates are entitled to School, library and computing facilities and to limited supervision, specifically to comment on draft material for the thesis. Candidates will not have access to laboratory facilities.
The fee for the extension year is based on a monthly charge, payable upon submission of the thesis. The maximum charge payable for submission within the 12 month period is 25% of the part-time non-laboratory postgraduate tuition fee. Candidates who fail to submit within the specified period and enter into a thirteenth month of extension time will become immediately liable for 50% of the part-time tuition fee. Candidates who are permitted to extend their extension period beyond 12 months will be liable for fees based on 50% of the part-time tuition fee for that year.
Your School Administrator will write to you before the end of your period of registration to inform you of the procedures for the submission of your thesis and the detailed procedures for requesting permission to enter the extension year should this be necessary. You will be required to complete and submit a Notice of Submission Form at least two months before you submit your thesis so that examiners can be appointed in good time. You should not submit your thesis without the approval of your supervisor although in some circumstances your School's Director of Graduate Studies will act instead.
Your thesis must be submitted to your departmental office either in person or through the post (registered or recorded delivery). You should make sure that you are given an official receipt. A thesis handed to a supervisor has not been submitted for examination. It is your responsibility to make sure your thesis is received by your departmental office.
The Academic Regulations provide details of the length of thesis, binding and number of copies required.
Your thesis will normally be examined by one internal examiner (who cannot be your supervisor) and one external examiner, usually a senior academic from another university, institute or occasionally from industry. In the case of PhD students, an integral part of the examination is a viva voce examination, to be held on a day convenient to the two examiners and yourself. In the case of MSc and MPhil students, a viva voce is held at the discretion of the examiners. Your supervisor may, at the discretion of the examiners, be invited to attend the viva as a silent observer.
If you are successful in the viva voce, some minor changes and corrections may be recommended by the examiners which do not require formal resubmission, only approval by the internal examiner. Alternatively the examiners may recommend more substantial changes which would require perhaps more research, analysis or better presentation and formal re-examination. The examiners may also recommend that you should be allowed to resubmit for a lesser degree, either with or without revision or that no degree be awarded. You should consult the Academic Regulations for details of the possible recommendations.
Plagiarism, Duplication of Material and Falsification of Data
Plagiarism is the act of presenting the ideas or discoveries of another as one's own. To copy sentences, phrases or even striking expressions without acknowledgment in a manner which may deceive the reader as to the source is plagiarism; to paraphrase in a manner which deceived the reader is likewise plagiarism.
A student must not reproduce in any work submitted for assessment (for example, examination answers, essays, project reports, dissertations or theses) any material derived from work authored by another without clearly acknowledging the source.
Duplication of material means the inclusion in coursework (including extended essays, projects and dissertations) of a significant amount of material which is identical or substantially similar to material which has already been submitted for the same or any other course at this University or elsewhere, without acknowledging that such work has been so submitted.
The University does not accept plagiarism or duplication of material and imposes severe penalties if it occurs in coursework, dissertations, projects, examinations and theses. If you need guidance on the correct use and presentation of quotations and source material, you should consult your tutor or supervisor.
Your research should result in the production of high quality data. Falsification of data in a thesis, report or publication will lead to severe penalties.
Updated: July 21, 2016