Quality Manual

Role and responsibilities of the internal assessor

This page contains detailed information about the role and responsibilities of internal assessors for research degree programmes, including policy, criteria and appointment requirements. Its content is relevant to staff and students across all of the UK, China and Malaysia campuses.

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This guidance should be read in conjunction with the Progression Review of Research Students section of Quality Manual and all other policies on Research Degrees, especially all other Research Degree regulations and University policy on personal relationships at work.

For doctoral students undergoing Progression Review in stage 1 and 2, an in-person meeting between PGR and an Internal Assessor is required.  

For more information about Progression Review, please consult the following:

Regulations for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

An Internal Assessor is strongly recommended in stage 3 Progression Review for independent scrutiny, consistency and quality assurance. 


1. Eligibility to act as Internal Assessor

The Internal Assessor(s) should:

    • have (co)supervised at least one PGR student to completion OR
    • have examined at least one UK PhD OR
    • have completed at least one previous UK progression review for a research degree.
  • undertake continuing professional development in relevant postgraduate educational areas 
  • possess sufficient knowledge of the subject area relating to the PGR’s degree programme to be able to effectively assess progress. 
  • normally be a University of Nottingham employee or have a contractual arrangement with UoN (e.g. a Memorandum of Understanding). 

It is appropriate in some cases to identify individuals from other schools/departments or alternative suitable environments provided that those individuals have appropriate and relevant knowledge of the PGR's field/discipline and hold professional status equivalent to a University of Nottingham academic position (i.e. R&T or R Assistant/Associate/full Professor). 

  • be independent from the student and all members of the supervisory team including any external supervisors.
  • not have any personal relationship with the PGR or the supervisory team throughout the candidate’s journey.

If the only suitable internal assessor does not have necessary experience of PGR co-supervision then a mentor can be appointed to support the development of the internal assessor and ensure assessment process is followed in the first year.  

If a relationship develops between the assessor and PGR, the assessor should step down and inform the Head of School. 

The Head of School may delegate some or all of the responsibilities in this Policy to a suitable deputy, for example the School/ PGR Director. For the purposes of this policy, the use of ‘School’ also includes Research Groups in the Faculty of Engineering, and, only when appropriate and Progression review is managed through Doctoral Training Programmes/Centres for Doctoral Training, DTP /CDT Directors. 

2. Appointment of the Internal Assessor

The appointment of the Internal Assessor should be initiated, and the PGR made aware of this, within 3 months of the PGR’s first registration.

The Head of School should approve the appointment of the Internal Assessor with input from the supervisory team and PGR.  

If an Internal Assessor is unable to continue in post throughout the PGR’s period of registered study, or either the student and /or supervisors request a change, a new Internal Assessor will be appointed as soon as possible.

Schools may appoint more than one Internal Assessor for a PGR, with consideration of workload and expertise, and for a justifiable reason, for example the research is inter- or transdisciplinary. All Internal Assessors must be actively engaged in and contribute to the formal Progression Review of the PGR, including the required meeting. 

Schools should consider whether the appointment of a particular Internal Assessor would risk the introduction of the perception of bias or conflict of interest into the process. Where such a risk is identified, the Head of School should always take the option of appointing a different assessor.   


3. The role of the Internal Assessor 

The Internal Assessor is appointed to:

  • ensure that the formal Progression Review is independent, robust, fair and unbiased; 
  • identify whether the PGR is making sufficient progress against the published criteria , or not, and if not be part of a process to remedy the situation;

For more information about Assessment criteria for Progression Reviews, please consult the following:

  • maintain and enhance the University’s reputation for academic excellence;
  • provide valuable feedback to PGRs to help them develop academically;
  • ensure that PGRs are receiving appropriate support that allows them to be successful in their research;
  • provide an independent recommendation on PGR progression through engagement with the review process.

The Internal Assessor can, under appropriate circumstances, also act as the internal examiner for the PGR, but is not required to do so. In order to act in this capacity, they must fulfill all the requirements for an external examiner, particularly those relating to appropriate expertise in the field/discipline. If an Internal Assessor, supervisors or School feels that the monitoring of the PGR’s progression results in any conflict of interest, or lack of impartiality that would interfere with an impartial examination of the thesis, the Internal Assessor should not act as the internal examiner.


4. Responsibilities of the Internal Assessor 

The Internal Assessor should:

  • initiate the arrangements for each Progression Review (at all stages) and agree a date, time and place for a meeting with the PGR, preferably 3 months prior to the date to ensure adequate preparation time;
The Office of the Independent Adjudicator requires that the PGR is not responsible for the organisation of their own assessment. 
  • provide an agenda for the meeting to the PGR at least 1 week before the meeting, and explain how the meeting will be conducted at the start, to ensure the PGR knows what to expect; 
  • ensure that the Progression Review (at all stages) is conducted in a timely fashion, including both the scrutiny of the presented report and other evidence and the progression meeting. This is to allow the evidence to be evaluated, and the recommendation for progression to be made in a time that allows for reassessment, should this be required, by the anniversary of the PGRs original date of registration. 
  • be made aware of any extenuating circumstances that need to be taken into consideration with respect to the formal Progression Review, and plan the timing accordingly;
  • read, take account of and evaluate the PGR’s progress using the information in the review documentation (including supervisory meeting notes, training records, the written report, research plan and accommodations), and assess progress against the published stage-specific criteria;  

For more information about Assessment criteria for Progression Reviews, please consult the following:

  • meet with the PGR and discuss the information in the report and other information, and assess progress against the published stage-specific criteria; 
  • provide supportive and constructive feedback in the meeting, and in the report form, based on the assessment criteria.
  • provide feedback to relevant individuals if any concerns arise in connection with safety or 
  • well-being as a result of the discussions.  
  • provide a fair and constructive independent report on PGR progression to the Head of School, in timely manner. 
  • agree a joint recommendation with the supervisors as to whether the PGR should progress or not to the next stage of study;

and, if the joint recommendation requires re-assessment of PGR progression, 

  • engage with the re-assessment of the PGR’s progression, contributing to the information provided to the PGR on the expectations and requirements for improvement and a re-assessment meeting;
  • provide, with the supervisors, the time in which the PGR will need to show improvement, the objectives and milestones to demonstrate the required improvement, and the criteria against which this will be assessed. 
  • agree the date of reassessment with the supervisors and PGR as soon as possible after the recommendation for re-assessment is made. 

Feedback on the Progression Review provided to the PGR should be based on the criteria as applicable to the stage and field/discipline, and should include comment on the performance in the written report, the meeting, and any other information provided to the Internal Assessor, including the supervision record, related to the following: 

  • the key achievements to date in the PGRs research progress, training and development, and required qualities and skills; 
  • the degree of existing knowledge and understanding in the field or area of study, including understanding of relevant techniques and methodologies;  
  • the degree to which the PGR’s plan have/will enable them to demonstrate the generation of new / original knowledge in their project; 
  • whether the PGR can communicate effectively to different and appropriate audiences through different means; 
  • whether the PGR can show effective and responsive planning for the focus and direction of their planned work and how they have honed this through pilot work, or if they have encountered problems. This should also include consideration of any necessary risk mitigation.
  • whether the PGR has attended and engaged with the required training for the School / programme. 
  • that the PGR understands the ethical and legal frameworks applicable for their research, and the principles of research integrity as required of all researchers.

5. Additional Information 

If you have any problems or queries relating to this page, please contact:

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Student Services

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Graduate School - PGR GS-PGR@nottingham.edu.cn Email

This content was last modified on 12 January 2024

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