Quality Manual
   
   
  

Annual Review of Research Students

1. Introduction

All students registered on research degrees lasting more than one year full-time or two years part-time (eg MPhil or Professional Doctorates but not MRes etc) are subject to review annually.1

The basic principles of Annual Review are common to all research students and all years of their programme.  There are specific requirements relating to PhD students and to the Annual Review preceding submission, and variations dependent on the length and stage of the student’s programme of study.  In all cases submission must be within four years of first registration unless the student holds an award with terms and conditions that vary this maximum period.

During their first year of registration, the status of PhD students as doctoral candidates is probationary and their Annual Review includes the Confirmation Review of their status.   Confirmation Review requires the involvement of an Internal Assessor while the basic Annual Review may be lead by the Principal Supervisor.  Annual Review should take place by the end of each completed year of study, though it is strongly recommended that preparations (e.g. submission of the written report) should commence before the student has completed nine months of each year of study and that reviews are held around the nine-month period to allow for any remedial actions arising from the review to be completed within the year.

2.  Minimum elements of Annual Review

 Schools must ensure that the following elements are included in their Annual Review process:

For all students:

• Production of a written report by the student on his/her progress.

• In response to the student's written report, a commentary by the principal supervisor on the student's progress and attendance.

• Confirmation by the principal supervisor2 that the required minimum number of supervision sessions has taken place and that supervision records are available.

  • Where student is sponsored and a report has been submitted to the sponsor during the year the content of that report should form part of the consideration.

Schools have discretion to appoint an Internal Assessor in this process as well as the principal supervisor if they wish to do this.

and

For PhD students undergoing Confirmation Review (ie normally in their first year of study):

• An interview of the student by an Internal Assessor and (if the School wishes) other staff who have not previously been closely associated with the student's work. The Internal Assessor must not be the student's supervisor or joint supervisor.   The student may request the opportunity to meet with the Internal Assessor without the supervisor(s) being present.

• Provision of evidence to the Internal Assessor that the student has attended any modules and passed any assessments that form a compulsory part of his/her research programme.

• In light of the review, a recommendation to the student's Head of School3 agreed jointly by the Internal Assessor and the principal supervisor as to the outcome.

Where students are on four year PhD programmes containing a substantial taught element, Confirmation Review should take place prior to the end of the second year (and the review processes thereafter on an annual basis). Recommendations on the registration of such students may still occur at an earlier stage (e.g. after one year), depending on the progress with the mandatory taught element of the programme.

or

For other research students in all years of study and PhD students after their Confirmation Review has been completed:

• Provision of evidence to the principal supervisor that the student has attended any modules and passed any assessments which form a compulsory part of his/her research programme.

• In light of the review, a recommendation to the student's Head of School from the principal supervisor as to the outcome.  

3. Final Annual Review

The final annual review of all research students (if they have not already completed their thesis) should include a detailed consideration of progress, including progress made with writing up, and a plan to ensure that the thesis is submitted within a maximum of four years from initial registration.

In addition to the minimum elements of Annual Review the final review before submission should include the following elements:

• A detailed plan for submission within the maximum period.

• In light of the review, a recommendation to the student's Head of School from the principal supervisor as to the outcome.  

4. The possible outcomes of Annual Review are:

• Re-registration in the following academic session on the same degree subject to the length of the programme.   In the case of PhD students this would act as confirmation of their doctoral status for re-registration in the following session.

• Entry of the student to the thesis pending period within the next year, subject to satisfying the requirements for the minimum period of study and having completed the research.

• With the agreement of the student, transfer of registration to another degree (e.g. from MPhil to PhD). In this instance, an interview of the student by an Internal Assessor as required in the Confirmation Review process should also be held and a transfer form completed.

• A recommendation by the School to the University that the student be required to transfer to another degree (e.g. from MPhil to MRes).

• A recommendation by the School to the University that the student's registration be terminated (which should be supported by evidence that the student has received written warnings on lack of progress during the period of study).

In the case of PhD students the following further outcomes are possible:

• Re-registration as a PhD student in the following academic session but with continuation of the student's probationary status (in which case, the next Annual Review for that student takes the form of a Confirmation Review) with an agreed plan of supportive or corrective action being put in place). However, the maximum number of Confirmation Reviews a student may be permitted is normally limited to two.

• Re-registration as a PhD student in the following academic session (with a corrective action plan being put in place if this is necessary).

• A recommendation by the School to the University that the student be re-registered as an MPhil student or on some other degree instead of PhD (supported by evidence that the student has received written warnings on lack of progress during the period of study).

In the case of the Final Annual Review the following further outcome is possible:

• A recommendation by the School to the University that the student’s registration be exceptionally extended for up to one further year.  In such a case submission will still be expected within the four year maximum period. 

5. Appeals

Where the outcome of any of the above reviews is that a student be required to transfer to another degree, has his/her registration terminated, or is required to register for an additional period beyond the normal length of the degree, the student may lodge an appeal against that decision if grounds for appeal exist.

 

Notes

1 For part-time students, all the processes are biennial rather than annual and periods of time quoted should be doubled. Relevant adjustments may need to be made for students studying away from the University or following programmes that involve a significant taught element.

2 In all these processes, the principal supervisor is expected to consult as necessary with other members of the supervisory team.

3 References to Head of School in this section include a person or body acting on behalf of the Head of School

Forms and Information 

 Flowchart

Sample School Research Student Annual Review Form (Probationary PhD students)

Sample School Research Student Annual Review Form (excluding Probationary PhD students)

Request Form to Register Research Student for an Additional Year (includes section for International Office approval)

Request to Transfer Programme

 

(UNUK students)

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