During the course of a research student’s candidature the student is expected to meet regularly with their supervisors, and at most meetings it is likely that the student’s progress will be monitored in an informal manner in addition to attendance checks. Details of the meetings should ideally be recorded on the on-line system. A minimum of four formal supervision meetings is compulsory each year, two of which will be reported to the Postgraduate Progression and Awards Board. During these supervisory meetings the student’s progress is discussed and formally recorded on the on-line system.
The stages at which the progress of a student pursuing a standard 3-year PhD is assessed are outlined below:
|Intake Q1||Intake Q2||Intake Q3||Intake Q4||Year.Month||3 year min / 4 year max|
|December||March||June||September||1.3||Confirmation of candidature|
|June||September||December||March||1.9||Supervision & Progression recommendation|
|December||March||June||September||2.3||Supervision & Progression recommendation|
|June||September||December||March||2.9||Supervision & Progression recommendation|
|December||March||June||September||3.3||Supervision & Progression recommendation|
|June||September||December||March||3.9||Supervision & Progression recommendation|
The Progression and Awards Board is a formal process for monitoring each student’s progress and deciding whether the student should be allowed to proceed with his/her research. The Faculty/School should ensure the student is informed of the criteria (specific criteria to be provided by the Faculty/School) and procedures by which the student’s progress will be assessed. Faculties/Schools must ensure that their specific criteria and procedures are sufficiently robust to ensure that students who are unlikely to be able to successfully complete the relevant research degree can be clearly identified at an early stage.
The Faculty/School is required to confirm the candidature of a student to the Progression and Awards Board within three months of the initial enrolment of the student regardless of when the student is enrolling. In doing so, the Faculty/School is confirming that the student has fulfilled the specified administrative requirements and is academically prepared to undertake the agreed research project. In particular:
- The candidature details are correct: the start date, the minimum candidature date, the maximum submission date, the names of the supervisors, the mode of study, the subject of study;
- The student has matriculated for entry to the University;
- A request to submit their thesis in Welsh has been submitted to the Faculty/School and thereon to the Academic Services;
- A request to submit the thesis in a language other than English/Welsh (where this is for academic reasons or where submission of the thesis in another language is a requirement of the specific programme) has been submitted to the Academic Regulations and Cases Board;
- A research plan has been agreed between the student and the supervisors and a brief project summary (word limit to be defined by the Faculty/School) noted on the on-line system;
- Ethical aspects of the research have been considered;
- As far as can be reasonably assessed at this stage, the facilities and resources necessary to complete the proposed project are available, or will be made available as required;
- A Training Needs Analysis has been completed;
- The student has received the relevant documentation, such as the Faculty/School's Postgraduate Handbook;
- The necessary safety training has been identified and either the student has completed it or an adequate schedule for its completion has been agreed;
- The student has attended or will attend any compulsory University or Faculty/School training courses;
- The student is engaging with their studies – any period of absences for more than two weeks are recorded.
Confirmation of Candidature is required to be completed by the student and supervisor(s), and recorded on the on-line system which will be recorded as one of the following three possible outcomes:
- Candidature Confirmed
- Defer for three months*
- Required to Withdraw*
*these outcomes will be reported to the Progression and Awards Board.
A report of all non-confirmed candidatures will be received by the Progression and Awards Board three months after enrolment. If the Faculty/School cannot confirm candidature for a student, the Progression and Awards Board will require the student to withdraw from the programme (see Guide to Suspensions and Extensions for Research Students and Guide to Transfer and Withdrawal of Research Students). However, in very exceptional circumstances, a student may submit an application to extend their Confirmation of Candidature by three months to the Progression and Awards Board for consideration.
After confirmation of candidature has been completed a student is not permitted to significantly change their topic of research, as such a change would invalidate the confirmation of candidature. If a student wishes to significantly change their topic of research, the student should be required to withdraw from the current degree and re-apply for the new topic of research.
During this initial period, the student will be expected to demonstrate the ability to proceed with further research and will be expected to meet the criteria set by the Faculty/School to measure his/her performance. Different Faculties/Schools may have different procedures and criteria for reaching these decisions, but they must be made clear to the student via the Faculty/School handbook or other written information. The following general criteria are used for all students when assessing whether the student has successfully completed the initial period:
- The student shows a good knowledge and understanding of their subject and associated methods and techniques;
- The student has carried out a comprehensive literature review;
- The student has demonstrated potential to make an original contribution to their field of study;
- The student can present and communicate their research work orally, and in writing;
- The student has satisfactorily completed the training modules or courses which were identified at the start of their studies;
- The student can evidence competency, both written and spoken, in the language of submission.
Twice yearly, a formal assessment of progress is carried out by the student and their supervisors and recorded on the on-line system. The Confirmation of Candidature will be the first of these formal assessments. Subsequent progression report is then submitted to the Research/Postgraduate Committee of the Faculty/School for consideration. The Faculty/School Research/Postgraduate Committee will either approve the progress or make appropriate amendments. The progress recommendation will be reviewed by the Progression and Awards Board which reaches a formal decision regarding the student’s progress and continuation.
In exceptional cases and outside normal process where a supervisor has immediate concerns regarding the progress of a student, the supervisor may request that a formal progression report be produced for that student and presented to the next available meeting of the Progression and Awards Board.
It is the responsibility of the student to make the Faculty/School aware of extenuating circumstances which could have an effect on their progress. Academic appeals based on extenuating circumstances which could have been brought to the attention of the Faculty/School prior to the meeting of the Progression and Awards Board shall not be considered.
The student will be able to view the Progression and Awards Board decision, comments and recommendation, once the recommendation has been confirmed. If the student is unhappy with the decision reached, and thinks that there are sufficient grounds, they can appeal against the decision using the Regulations for Academic Appeals.
The Progression & Awards Board decision can include one of the following decisions:
|Satisfactory Progress||Progress is satisfactory and the student has completed the element of the programme of research expected at this stage of candidature.|
|Cause for Concern||Progress is moderate, the student is permitted to proceed; however, there are some concerns regarding academic progress. This decision may have been reached because the student has not yet been able to have completed the work expected at this stage.|
|Transfer to PhD / Doctorate||It is recommended that the student transfers to a more appropriate programme. This recommendation should normally be used when the student is transferring between a research master’s programme and a doctoral programme, provided the student is within minimum candidature for the doctoral programme and has met the ‘transfer up´criteria e.g. completed a transfer report which has been reviewed by a Faculty/School Panel and undergone an interim viva.|
|Transfer to MPhil / Master of Philosophy||It is recommended that the student transfers to a more appropriate programme. This recommendation should normally be used when the student is transferring between a research doctoral programme and a master’s programme, provided the student is within minimum candidature for the master’s programme. If this is the case, the student will have the right to seek a review appeal (see regulations for Academic Appeal). This recommendation can also be used when a student is transferring up from a MA/MSc by Research (MRes in exceptional circumstances), provided they are within minimum candidature for the MPhil programme and has met the ‘transfer up´criteria e.g. completed a transfer report which has been reviewed by a Faculty/School Panel and undergone an interim viva.|
|Transfer to Master of Research (MRes)||It is recommended that the student transfers to a more appropriate programme. This recommendation should normally be used when the student is transferring between Doctoral/Professional Doctorate programme to MRes, provided the student is within minimum candidature for the MRes programme. If the student is transferring to a lower degree he/she will have the right to seek a review appeal (see regulations for Academic Appeal).|
|Transfer to Masters by Research (MA/MSc/LLM by Research)||It is recommended that the student transfers to a more appropriate programme. This recommendation should normally be used when the student is transferring between a MPhil programme/ doctoral programme to MA/MSc by Research, provided the student is within minimum candidature for the MA/MSc by Research programme. If the student is transferring to a lower degree he/she will have the right to seek a review appeal (see regulations for Academic Appeal).|
|Required to Withdraw||Progress is unsatisfactory and the student is required to withdraw. The recommendation is used when the student has made little or no progress, or shown so little potential that it is deemed to be impossible to complete the research within the candidature period. This recommendation must be accompanied by a statement from the Faculty/School giving full details of the concerns identified. The final decision will rest with the Progression and Awards Board. The student has the right to seek a review or appeal (see regulations for Academic Appeal). Out of Time - the student has not submitted and the student is now out of time. The student’s record will be closed.|
|Student Voluntary Withdrawal||The student has voluntary withdrawn from the programme of study.|
|Submitted/Resubmitted||The student has submitted/re-submitted and is waiting for the result.|
|Significant disruption to progress (beyond the student's control)||Progress has been disrupted due to circumstances beyond the student's control. The decision may have been reached because the student has not been able to have completed the work expected at this stage. the student is permitted to proceed.|
Formal progression reports will still need to be recorded on the on-line system and submitted to the Progression and Awards Board biannually throughout the candidature (or more frequently if required). Progression reports seek to establish whether the project is proceeding according to schedule. The progression report can also highlight any concerns or difficulties encountered and action taken or needed to resolve these issues.
In exceptional circumstances, where there is significant disruption to progress, supervisors are advised to hold monthly ad hoc RMS meetings with students and document the discussion. This is particularly important in instances where extensions might be applied for at a later date. Any extensions requested should be submitted in accordance with the relevant guidance.
At the end of the normal supervised period of candidature the student is expected to have completed their research and to be ready to submit the thesis. The student’s Faculty/School must submit a formal assessment report on progress to the Progression and Awards Board with a recommendation indicating whether the student is ready to submit the thesis within six months.
Different Faculties/Schools may have different procedures and criteria for reaching these decisions, but they must be made clear to the student via the handbook or other written information. Typically, some of the following criteria are used in order to asses when the student will be able to submit the thesis:
- The main body of research is completed (i.e. fieldwork);
- A first draft of most of the thesis chapters has been produced and reviewed by the supervisors;
- Full supervision is likely not to be required:
- Supervision is focused upon reviewing drafts of thesis chapters and/or editing, or;
- Supervision is now limited to reviewing drafts of remaining chapters (e.g. results and discussion chapters), including final refinements and/or editing;
- The student is not ready to submit and has produced an agreed research plan with the supervisors to ensure submission occurs.