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Research degree process

Postgraduate research degrees do not involve any taught elements which means the process for completing this kind of qualification - as opposed to a taught course like a Master’s - is very different.

There are several milestones throughout a postgraduate research degree, with each stage designed to assess and hone your research project and develop the skills required to help you produce a strong thesis. The following are the main milestones during a postgraduate research degree - you can find more information about all of these stages in the Code of Practice for Research Degrees (pdf 2.6mb)

  • Probationary Review - This takes place 3 months after registration (or 6 months if you are studying part-time). At this stage, you will be expected to define the proposed area and scope for your research, report on your progress to date, review planned skills and training, undertake a risk assessment of health and safety and ethical issues related to your research, and agree your future research plan and activities.
  • Re-Enrolment Review - At the end of each academic year, there will be a review of your progress. This information is compiled by you, in consultation with the supervisory team. It should include a record of any achievements to date, as well as any difficulties you’ve faced, and should also outline the proposals for your next period of research. This process also includes a review of your skills development and training priorities, as per the requirements of external bodies such as the Research CouncilHEFCE and QAA.
  • Major Review – This takes place by 18 months after registration (or 36 months if you are studying part-time) and is necessary to ensure that you and your research meet the required academic standards to continue working at doctoral level. You will be expected to report on your progress to date, outline the proposed original contribution to knowledge likely to emerge from your final thesis, produce a statement of intended further work and provide a timeline for successful completion.
  • Final Thesis Examination - Following submission of your final research degree thesis (36 months after registration or 72 months if you are studying part-time), the assessment or the examination process has two stages:

    • preliminary assessment by Examiners, who read the thesis independently to ensure it meets the criteria for the award.
    • defence of your thesis by oral examination, the Viva Voce.
  • Your research degree is not formally conferred until you have submitted one permanently bound copy and one electronic copy of your thesis to the Faculty Subject Librarian and the Doctoral College has received your completed signed Deposit of and Access to a Thesis form.

You will find further details about this stage, as well as all the forms you require, on ResearchPAD, which you can access using your student ID and login once you have registered. Please note that we cannot confer any award until all of the above items have been submitted and the completeness integrity of the submitted thesis has been confirmed by the Subject Librarian.