|NOTE: These regulations apply to all research students regardless of year of entry. Research students who enrolled on their doctoral studies before 1 August 2016 will follow the Progression Monitoring timings and procedures as determined by their Faculty which applied at the time of their admission. Research students should refer back to their Faculty for further information. Research students who enrolled before 1 August 2016 will also follow the timings for upgrade/transfer from MPhil to PhD registration that applied at the time of their admission. Paragraph 64 provides a summary of these timings depending on year of entry.|
Introduction to the Research Environment
- The University undertakes to make satisfactory arrangements for the admission, candidature, supervision and examination of research students. This Code of Practice sets out University level policy and guidelines for candidature for MPhil, PhD and other doctoral degrees (including the Integrated PhD and taught 'professional' doctorate) in either the University or the Accredited Institution. It is intended to amplify and complement the Regulations1 and provide a framework for all supervisory relationships. It is supplemented by Faculty or Accredited Institution guidelines which are consistent with this Code of Practice but specify more detailed procedures operating at local level.
The Code is intended to promote good practice in research candidature and supervision and ensure a degree of comparability in the research student experience. It is essential that a good working relationship is established between the supervisors and the research student, and that responsibilities on both sides are clearly defined and understood. It is intended to cover the many different types of research student and to recognise the diversity of experiences, needs, interests and styles. In considering how best to support research students with disabilities, Faculties may find helpful the practical advice and information accessible via the Vitae website.
To ensure compliance with the Code, the University will monitor research degree provision against internal and external indicators and targets. In particular, in order to evaluate the success of our postgraduate research degrees, the University will collect and review:
The University will also monitor and review information on subsequent employment destinations and career paths of research students who have achieved the qualification.
- submission and completion times and rates, with account taken of any variations (for example relating to individual research students' circumstances, part-time programmes and the requirements of research councils, sponsors or other relevant bodies);
- pass, resubmission, referral (for taught doctorates), and fail rates;
- withdrawal rates;
- the number of appeals and complaints, the reasons for them, and how many are upheld;
- analysis of comments from examiners;
- recruitment profiles;
- data on equality and diversity.
The Higher Degrees of MPhil and PhD
- The research environment should be regarded as both a place of learning and of research productivity. The environment allows for research students' changing needs and requirements as their programmes develop, including providing an adequate amount of academic and, if relevant, work or practice-based supervision of an appropriate quality. To satisfy these aims, there should be a clear commitment to research in the Faculty/Accredited Institution or unit in which research students are to be supervised, as well as commitment to encouraging the integration of research students into the research activity of the Faculty/Accredited Institution or unit. Factors that can be used to indicate excellence in research would normally include:
An appropriate environment in which to do and learn about research would normally include:
- demonstrable research achievement as recognised either through peer assessment as internationally excellent or above, or consistently recognised by the award of grants in open competition;
- at least five research-active staff and six research students;
- knowledge exchange and applications (including knowledge transfer partnerships), with an emphasis on the practical impact of research outcomes and demonstrable ability to attract external funding.
An environment supportive of research achievement may include:
- exposure to researchers working at the highest level in the research student's chosen field and in cognate and related disciplines;
- the expectation that research students' proposed topics of research will relate substantially to the Faculty/Accredited Institution's or unit's research programme to enable research students to relate current research and issues arising from it to their own research (e.g. through debate with professional researchers);
- opportunities and encouragement for research students to work and exchange ideas with people and organisations using research outcomes for their own purposes and with colleagues in the wider research environment;
- access to academic and other colleagues able to give advice and support;
- adequate learning and research tools, including access to IT equipment, library and electronic publications;
- opportunities for research students to develop peer support networks where issues or problems can be discussed informally;
- supervision (see also the section on Supervision) that encourages the development and successful pursuit of a programme of research;
- guidance on the ethical pursuit of research and the avoidance of research misconduct, including plagiarism and breaches of intellectual property rights;
- support in developing research-related skills, and access to a range of development opportunities that contribute to the research student's ability to complete the programme successfully (including, where appropriate, understanding issues of funding and of commercial exploitation);
- access to and support for a range of development opportunities that contribute to the research student's ability to develop personal , professional and, where pertinent, employment-related skills;
- availability of relevant advice on career development.
- a collegial community of academic staff and postgraduates conducting excellent research in cognate areas;
- supervisors with the necessary skills and knowledge to support research students in working towards the successful completion of their research programmes;
- access to welfare and support facilities that recognise the distinctive nature of research degree study;
- the opportunity for research students to raise complaints or appeal mechanisms for addressing research students' feedback both as individuals and collectively;
- sufficient implementation and monitoring mechanisms to ensure that where a project is undertaken in collaboration with another organisation, the standards of both organisations are maintained.
- The MPhil and PhD are higher degrees involving a programme of research training and supervision and leading to the production of a thesis or, in the case of research students in the disciplines listed in paragraph 8, the production of a body of work as appropriate to the discipline completed in conjunction with a critical written component (as specified in paragraph 8-10 below). The MPhil and PhD are two separate, distinct awards with the MPhil differing from the PhD in terms of the scope of study required and the extent of the original personal contribution to knowledge. (Paragraphs 5 to 7 give more details on the levels of attainment required for the MPhil and for the PhD.)
The Difference between MPhil and PhD
- The thesis (or equivalent submission as specified in paragraph 8) which is the outcome of the research project and the training programme, must be composed clearly and presented in the required format. The subject should be dealt with in an orderly manner using appropriate research methods and techniques and displaying critical discrimination in evaluating the evidence.
- For the award of PhD, research students must have demonstrated:2
Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:
- the creation and interpretation of new knowledge through original research or other advanced scholarship of a quality to satisfy peer review, extend the forefront of the discipline and merit publication;
- a systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge which is at the forefront of an academic discipline or an area of professional practice;
- the general ability to conceptualize, design and implement a project for the generation of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of the discipline, and to adjust the project design in the light of unforeseen problems;
- a detailed understanding of applicable techniques for research and advanced academic enquiry.
And holders will have:
- make informed judgements on complex issues in specialist fields, often in the absence of complete data, and be able to communicate their ideas and conclusions clearly and effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences;
- continue to undertake pure and/or applied research and development at an advanced level, contributing substantially to the development of new techniques, ideas or approaches.
- the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and largely autonomous initiative in complex and unpredictable situations, in professional or equivalent environments.
- The MPhil is an award of considerable distinction in its own right and is awarded for the successful completion of a substantial element of research or equivalent enquiry. The MPhil differs from the PhD only in terms of the scope of study required and the extent of the original personal contribution to knowledge.
- More specifically, for the award of MPhil, research students must have demonstrated:
- a systematic understanding of knowledge and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline, field of study or area of professional practice;
- originality in the application of knowledge together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline;
- conceptual understanding that enables the research student to:
- evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline; and
- evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses;
- a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship.
Alternative formats of thesis submission
Doctoral Degrees with a Taught Element
- In the following disciplines, an alternative format of thesis submission is permitted:
- Art and Design
- Performing Arts
- Details of these will be outlined in the Doctoral Programme Profiles.
- The submission must consist of two parts: a body of work as appropriate to the discipline (for example substantial original practical work) completed in conjunction with a critical written component with a maximum length of 40,000 words and an indicative minimum of 20,000 words (30,000 and 15,000 words respectively for MPhil). The nature and extent of each component must be proposed by the research student in consultation with the supervisor, for consideration and approval by the Faculty Graduate School Directorate by the time of their first progression review. The relationship of the components must be such as to form an holistic original research project, demonstrating the criteria as described in paragraph 5 for PhD, or paragraph 7 for MPhil above.
Selection and Admission of Research Students
- The University offers a number of doctoral degrees with a taught element; for example, taught doctoral programmes or 'professional doctorates' (e.g. Doctor of Education [EdD]; Doctor of Engineering [EngD]). It also offers the Integrated PhD programme (e.g. Integrated PhD in Economics) in certain disciplines. Both types of programmes are covered by this Code of Practice.
- In terms of comparability with the PhD, it is appropriate to regard the taught element of the professional doctorate (usually no more than one third of the programme or 90 ECTS credits) as being at master's level (Level 7) and the subsequent research and thesis preparation at doctoral level (Level 8 and 180 ECTS credits)4. Further guidance regarding the structure of taught/professional doctorates can be found in Part A of the UK Quality Code for Higher Education: The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies, November 2014.
English Language Proficiency
- Only appropriately qualified and prepared research students will be admitted to research programmes. Applicants must demonstrate that they have the motivation and potential to complete a sustained piece of research and to produce a thesis. For research at doctoral or MPhil level, research students will normally be expected to have one or more of the following:
- a degree, normally with at least class 2(i) or equivalent, in a relevant subject;
- a relevant master's qualification or equivalent;
- evidence of prior professional practice or learning that meets the University's or Accredited Institution's criteria and good practice guidelines for accreditation of prior experiential and/or certificated learning. The University's guidance on AP[E/C]L can be found in the University’s Recognition of Prior Learning policy.
- Research students whose first language is not English will also be required to demonstrate an adequate knowledge of English as defined in the University's Admission Policy on English Language Proficiency. Precise requirements for English language proficiency are set out in the relevant Doctoral or MPhil Programme Profile for each discipline area.
- Two independent academic references must be received for all applicants.
Accepting an Applicant
- Admissions procedures should be clear, consistently applied and always demonstrate equality of opportunity. Faculties should also refer to the University's Equality and Diversity Statement, and to Regulations 1 and 2 in the University Calendar's Section IV - Regulations for Admission to Degree Programmes.
Faculties are also expected to refer to section 3.0 (Recruitment and Admissions) of the University's Inclusivity Good Practice Checklist in considering the impact of equality and diversity.
It is recognized there may be occasions when applicants feel they have cause for complaint. In the first instance, applicants should raise their concerns informally with the relevant Faculty staff. If matters cannot be resolved, applicants should refer to the University's Regulations Governing Complaints from Applicants in Section IV of the University Calendar.
- Admission decisions should involve at least two members of staff who have received instruction, advice and guidance in respect of selection and admissions procedures.
- Interviews by appropriately trained members of staff may be used as part of the admissions process to assess the suitability of an applicant, and adequate steps should be taken where feasible to ensure similar opportunities for applicants who are unable to attend in person, for example by the use of telephone, email, Skype or similar. Staff interviewing applicants should be trained in diversity and equality policies and interviewing techniques, and should be aware of the support available for disabled applicants.
- Faculties should provide clear, accessible, jargon-free information for potential applicants and staff involved in the admissions process, recognising diversity and different needs. Research students should be made aware of opportunities to apply for special funding, and how to apply for such funding. Information should also be provided regarding the support available for disabled research students, how to access it within the University, and how to fund it.
- Staff responsible for admissions should be aware of, and understand, the legal requirements of the process. Information about these requirements can be obtained from Student and Academic Administration.
- Faculties are expected to put in place and maintain monitoring arrangements that show compliance with legal requirements, particularly in relation to Equal Opportunities.
Transferring from Another Institution
- Before recommending the acceptance of an applicant, both Faculties/the Accredited Institution and applicants must be made aware of the costs of the planned research and the financial support available. The Faculty/Accredited Institution must also satisfy itself that:
- the programme has complied with the University’s criteria for assessing the applicant’s qualifications and preparedness for a research degree;
- the programme is within the applicant's capabilities;
- the applicant is able to demonstrate an adequate knowledge of the English language, if his/her first language is not English (see paragraph 14 above);
- the applicant is capable of sustaining research at this level and completing within the required length of candidature;
- the applicant can be supported by suitable supervisors and adequate facilities within an appropriate research environment as set out in paragraph 2 above, including any additional support strategies, specialist equipment or assistive technology required by disabled research students.
- Applicants with non-standard entry qualifications should be recommended for approval by the Director of the Faculty Graduate School to the Faculty Programmes Committee. In the case of the Accredited Institution, applicants with non-standard qualifications must be approved by External Research Degrees Committee (ERDC)5. Student and Academic Administration can be contacted for guidance on which qualifications are currently regarded as 'standard'. Paragraph 6 of the Admissions Policy - Student and Academic Administration sets out some general principles for selectors.
- Faculties are advised that admissions procedures for research students should be followed as set out in the University's Admissions Policy which can be accessed via Admissions Policy - Student and Academic Administration.
Formal Offer Letter
- Applications from research students wishing to transfer to the University of Southampton with their supervisor from another institution are subject to the satisfactory provision of the following from the previous institution:
If appropriate, Faculties may wish to re-assess the research student's English language proficiency in order to ensure the University's English language requirements are being met.
- an official release together with details of the duration of the research student's previous research study;
- a brief progress report approved by an appropriate officer or committee at the previous institution;
- information as to whether the research student has upgraded from MPhil to PhD or that PhD registration has been confirmed in a formal progression stage; and
- details of that process if it has taken place.
- Applications relating to research students wishing to transfer to the University of Southampton independently of their previous supervisor and institution are subject to the satisfactory provision of the information described above, but also:
- two academic references relating to recent previous study (required of all postgraduate applicants);
- copies of regular progress reports (preferably annual reports) from the previous institution as far as possible;
- a clear recommendation from the selector, following an interview with the research student, explaining why the research student wants to transfer institution, and why it is felt that prospects for successful completion will be better at the University of Southampton.
- All such applications are subject to confirmation by the Faculty/Accredited Institution concerned that satisfactory arrangements for supervision have been approved, and that the Faculty/Accredited Institution is satisfied as to the arrangements for financial support for the research student and facilities for the project (including the provision of any additional support strategies, specialist equipment or assistive technology required by disabled research students).
For any research student accepted for transfer, there would normally be a minimum of 12 months between the date of transfer and submission of the thesis even if the research student has already upgraded from MPhil to PhD or had PhD registration confirmed in a formal progression stage at his or her previous institution.
- Decisions on applications for transfer to the University are made by the Director of the Faculty Graduate School on behalf of the Faculty, or by the ERDC5 in the case of the Accredited Institution. Paragraphs 13 and 14 of this Code also apply to research students transferring from another institution, unless agreed otherwise by the Dean of the appropriate Faculty.
Enrolment of Research Students
- The formal offer letter, which may form the basis of the contract between the research student and the institution, should define and communicate clearly the terms and conditions relating to the offer and its acceptance, including any known specified requirements of any sponsor, together with the research student's entitlements and responsibilities.
Research Student Information and Induction
- Research students are expected to enrol promptly each academic year according to the procedures set out by the University and their Faculty/Accredited Institution. This will normally be through the University's online enrolment process or as otherwise directed if enrolling with an Accredited Institution.
Research Training and Transferable Skills Training
- Faculties will provide research students with sufficient and timely information to enable them to begin their studies with an understanding of the academic and social environment within which they will be working. Guidelines on information that may usefully be provided are given in Appendix 1. The timing and frequency of inductions should also take account of part-time and international research students. Appropriate information regarding special arrangements or facilities should also be made available to research students with a disability. This should normally have been discussed and agreed individually with the research student prior to the commencement of his/her studies. Faculties are advised to refer to section 4.0 (Pre-Entry and Induction Activities) of the University's Inclusivity Good Practice Checklist.
Academic Needs Analysis
- Research students must have access to a suitable programme of research skills and transferable skills training which recognises differing needs arising from student diversity. A range of mechanisms, sufficiently flexible to address individual needs, should be available to support research students' learning. Training programmes should support students' research, comply with any Research Council requirements, and help research students to prepare themselves for their subsequent career. Training may be provided in-house or by arranging access to external training programmes. In-house training will be offered primarily at programme level with Faculty oversight. Faculties will work together through the Doctoral College to co-ordinate their training programmes by mutual agreement.
Research Skills Training - Discipline-Specific and Generic
- Research students' personal and professional developmental needs, including transferable skills, should be assessed within three months of entry to a research degree programme, or within three months of the beginning of the research stage of a taught doctorate, by means of an academic needs analysis. Any specific programme requirements will be referred to in the Doctoral Programme Profile.
Training needs should be re-assessed on an annual basis as part of the Progression Reviews. Progress should be monitored and research students are required to maintain a record of personal achievement in their acquisition of knowledge of subject specific, personal, professional and research skills.
- the facilities required to undertake their research (for example, any specialist software packages or high specification computer, appropriate space to work – see paragraph 52 below);
- whether they have subject-specific gaps in their knowledge base and how these might be filled (for example, by attending classes at Masters level);
- whether they need to learn a language and/or require English language support during their candidature;
- a self-assessment of their personal, professional and research skills (as set out in the Researcher Development Framework). Research students should be directed to the training on offer through the University, their programme and their Faculty to meet the training needs identified.
- Faculties/the Accredited Institution should ensure that procedures are in place to collate, on an annual basis, the needs that have been identified in the academic needs analysis. This should be reflected in the Faculty's Annual Report on Research Degree Provision. Faculties will provide oversight to ensure that suitable training is made available to meet individual research students' needs either in-house or externally.
Transferable Skills Training
- Research skills training, which should be provided either by single subject groups or on a multidisciplinary basis, forms a substantial and compulsory part of the research student's programme and should be assessable where appropriate. Any compulsory modules will be detailed in the Doctoral Programme Profile or programme specification. Such training should conform to the best practice recommended by the relevant Research Council and be required of research students except in cases where they have already developed sufficient and appropriate skills through a master's degree or other postgraduate work or appropriate work experience. Any exemption from such training should be agreed by the supervisory team as part of the Academic Needs Analysis.
Training programmes should:
Faculties should ensure that all research students can access skills training sessions and events, and that staff are aware of any particular additional learning needs.
- ensure that research students develop so as to become increasingly aware of their own training needs, both discipline-specific and generic;
- enable research students to choose between a range of different approaches to their research study;
- achieve a balance between subject-specific and more general material which might relate to future employment needs;
- encompass the basic principles of research design and strategy including techniques (e.g. computing and bibliographic) for use in the research study;
- include opportunities for the presentation of research, both oral and written;
- provide access to relevant seminar programmes and learned conferences within and beyond the institution (where resources and opportunities permit);
- where appropriate, utilise the diverse cultural, social and educational backgrounds of research students in order to enrich the learning experience of all research students.
- Faculties/the Accredited Institution should ensure that research students have access to suitable in-house or external training in transferable skills as appropriate.
Training programmes should enable research students to:
- develop good oral and written communications skills enabling them to articulate ideas clearly to a range of audiences;
- use information technology appropriately for database management, recording and presenting material, etc.;
- apply effective project management skills including realistic goal setting and prioritization of activities;
- appreciate the factors which contribute to the success of formal and informal teams;
to provide effective support to others when involved in teaching, mentoring or demonstrating activities (please refer to paragraph 57 below for further guidance);
- take ownership of their own career progression.
- It is the research student’s responsibility, with appropriate guidance from the supervisory team, to observe due ethical standards in the design, conduct and reporting of the research (see also paragraph 48 below). Ethical considerations must be addressed in all research involving either human subjects or animals. Consideration should also be given to different racial or cultural perspectives on research ethics. Faculties/the Accredited Institution should establish a formal channel to consider and determine any such ethical issues. The University's Ethics Policy and other related documents can be accessed on the Governance section of the University website. Research students should receive formal training in research ethics to help them to understand both the formal mechanisms for gaining ethical approval for their research and the intellectual debates surrounding research ethics.
Mode of Candidature
- Research students will be registered on the programme they intend to submit for. A research student on a PhD programme will be required to demonstrate s/he has made satisfactory progress and must successfully complete the confirmation process described in paragraphs 70 to 79 below.
Duration of Candidature, Suspensions of Candidature and Extensions of Candidature
- Candidature may be full or part-time. Research students should satisfy the Faculty/Accredited Institution that they can commit sufficient time to the project to sustain satisfactory progress.
- See Regulations 18 to 21 and 41 to 44 of the Regulations for Research Degrees.
- A research assistant may also be registered, normally part-time, as a research student. Performance as an employee and progress as a research student should be assessed and treated separately. The research student's project would normally be independent of work undertaken for employment.
Responsibilities of the Supervisory Team
- Research students are allocated a supervisory team of at least two members, one of whom will be the 'main supervisor' (see also paragraphs 40 to 47 below). The supervisory team should include the roles of 'main' supervisor and 'co-ordinating' supervisor. These roles will normally be undertaken by the same individual. See also paragraphs 41 to 45 below regarding Members of the Supervisory Team, and paragraph 27 of the Regulations for Research Degrees.
- The supervisory team should be chosen to provide adequate academic expertise. Where a research student's project requires further expertise, an additional supervisor should be appointed to provide the required specialist advice. This additional supervisor may be external to the University.
- Faculties/the Accredited Institution should ensure that the quality of supervision is not put at risk as a result of an excessive volume and range of responsibilities assigned to individual supervisors. Where relevant, the workload of individual supervisors should reflect the different learning styles of research students. There should therefore be a clear Faculty policy on expectations regarding supervisor workload. This policy should include a limit on the number of research students to be supervised simultaneously unless the Faculty/Accredited Institution has made specific arrangements to allow an individual adequate time to supervise more research students.
Where there are any conflicts of interest in the composition of the supervisory team, these must be communicated to the research student at the time, and an additional supervisor or advisor appointed to the team. An example of a conflict of interest would include a marital relationship between members of a supervisory team.
The following paragraph should be read in conjunction with paragraphs 64 to 79 on Progress Monitoring, and also paragraphs 53 and 54 which cover Arrangements for Research Students Based at a Distance.
Members of the Supervisory Team
- Faculties/the Accredited Institution are responsible for ensuring the appointment of an appropriate supervisory team and for ensuring that individual members of the supervisory team are fully aware of their role and responsibilities, the scope of which includes the following:
- Responsibilities at the outset of supervision
- To meet with the research student to identify the initial objectives of the research.
- To confirm any requirements of the research student’s sponsor, if applicable.
- To assist the research student in an academic needs analysis with respect to research skills (discipline-specific and generic) and transferable skills, identifying sources of provision at discipline/Faculty/University level or externally, and a timescale for undertaking training.
- To ensure that the research student has access to information about events organised for, or open to, research students in the discipline/Faculty/Accredited Institution (including workshops, seminars and conferences).
- For research students whose first language is not English, to advise on additional English language support if appropriate (for example, some research students may experience difficulties with technical language).
- If the research student has disclosed a disability, to identify ways in which he/she may be supported in their studies with help and advice as required by Enabling Services. Enabling Services encompasses a wide variety of support for research students who have disabilities, mental health issues or specific learning difficulties. Research students should also be asked about the impact, if any, of research activity on their disability.
- To explain the roles of the members of the supervisory team and to discuss and agree the pattern and frequency of contact between members of the supervisory team; (for example, international research students may benefit from a higher frequency of meetings during the first year, or, for research students with a disability, account may need to be taken of the effects of medication).
- To clarify arrangements for progression reviews ensuring that the research student is fully conversant with the Faculty/Accredited Institution and University procedures from the outset (see paragraphs 64 to 79 below).
- To ensure that the research student is cognisant of Intellectual Property (IP) issues that may be/become associated with the project and is aware of their responsibilities in relation to research ethics (see Ethics Policy and Paragraph 32 above) , governance, and IP (see Section IV of the University Calendar - Intellectual Property Regulations).
- To make clear to the research student his/her responsibilities as detailed in paragraph 48 below (Responsibilities of the Research Student).
- Ongoing responsibilities
- To maintain regular contact with the research student in accordance with arrangements established at the outset and in-line with Faculty/Accredited Institution policy. The frequency of meetings will depend upon the stage and nature of the research and the particular needs of the research student, but it is anticipated that for full-time research students these should be at least once a month, and more frequently at the start of the candidature. This could include both face-to-face and on-line meetings (see also paragraphs 64 to 78 below).
- To be accessible at other reasonable times when advice is needed, keeping in mind the needs of the individual research student.
- To provide advice and guidance as necessary on the planning and development of the research programme and standard of work expected, recognising that some research students may require additional support. Such advice and guidance will include reference to literature and sources, research methods and techniques, academic integrity including avoidance of plagiarism, research ethics and governance, issues of copyright, intellectual property and health and safety.
- To ensure that the University's Equal Opportunities Policy is taken into account in all aspects of the research student's experience, and to be sensitive to the differing needs of research students arising from diversity.
- To ensure that the research student conforms to the University's research ethics, research governance, and Intellectual Property regulations and policies which can be accessed via Research and Enterprise Policies.
- To monitor the research student's progress (requiring written work as appropriate), providing reports to the Faculty/Accredited Institution as required, and giving constructive and timely feedback which is accessible and useful to the research student.
- To be aware of progression review deadlines, and ensure that the research student is aware of these and the requirements for each review.
- Where progress is unsatisfactory, or the standard of work unacceptable, to ensure that the research student is made aware of this and that steps are taken in a timely fashion to develop a constructive plan for improvement.
- To set target dates for successive stages of the work in order to encourage timely submission of the thesis (taking into account any additional disability-related needs or language support arrangements required by the research student).
- To ensure that the research student is aware of other sources of advice at Faculty/Accredited Institution and University level including:
- To provide pastoral support and/or refer the research student to other sources of support, independent mentors and other student support services.
- To check with any research students with regard to the effectiveness of any support they are receiving from the University services, and responding to any on-going or acute difficulties.
- To liaise with external bodies as appropriate and make arrangements with any external supervisors.
- To keep the research student informed of events organised for, or open to, research students by the discipline/Faculty, encouraging them to participate as appropriate.
- To arrange, as appropriate, for the research student to present work to staff or peers at seminars or conferences; to arrange mentoring for publishing and grant writing as appropriate; to encourage publication of work as appropriate; and to act as a link between the research student and the wider academic community.
- To participate in appropriate staff development activities to ensure competence in, and bring enhancement to, all aspects of the supervisory role.
- Responsibilities in the later stage of supervision
- To ensure that, where a research student is unable to submit a thesis within the required time, a timely and reasoned application for extension of candidature is made in line with University policy.
- To ensure arrangements are made for examination of the research student including the nomination of examiners in accordance with Faculty/Accredited Institution and University policy.
- To ensure appropriate examination arrangements are made for research students with a disability (see paragraphs 84 and 89 below).
- To ensure that the research student is adequately prepared for the viva voce examination, arranging a practice examination if required.
See also regulation 27 of the Regulations for Research Degrees and also paragraphs 37 to 39 above.
Absence of a Supervisor
- At least one member of the supervisory team must have prior experience of supervision which has resulted in a successful doctorate. For new supervisors, experience should be gained through working closely with an experienced supervisor and may include a recognised mentorship arrangement. It is the responsibility of the PGR Programme Director, or the 'experienced' member of the supervisory team, to confirm in writing that sufficient experience has been gained. Supervisors must be active researchers in the appropriate discipline, and should normally themselves have a PhD or equivalent substantial research experience, experience of publication, and expertise in the area of the student's research. Staff in formal candidature for a higher degree should not be appointed as a main supervisor.
- The main supervisor has responsibility for supervising the design of the study and for supervision of the research student throughout the project. The main supervisor should be available to provide guidance and direction to a research student on a regular basis. Senior members of honorary clinical staff in the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Health Sciences, members of staff employed by the Natural Environmental Research Council at the National Oceanography Centre, or visiting academics, may be appointed to the supervisory team as main supervisors (but may not take the role of co-ordinating supervisor). Members of academically-related staff, an academic member of staff on probation, or a professor emeritus may not be appointed as main supervisor.
- The co-ordinating supervisor has responsibility for ensuring that the administrative processes for the research student (e.g. progression reviews, arrangements for examination) are completed in a timely manner throughout a research student's candidature. This role is normally performed by the main supervisor. The co-ordinating supervisor must be a permanent academic member of University of Southampton staff. Members of academically-related staff, an academic member of staff on probation, or a professor emeritus may not be appointed as co-ordinating supervisor.
- New supervisors must take, or have taken, appropriate training (including training to ensure awareness of diversity issues which may impact on the supervision process, e.g. research students wishing to participate in their religious festivals) as determined by the Director of the Faculty Graduate School and be members of a supervisory team that includes an experienced supervisor.
- The contact details and responsibilities of all members of the supervisory team should be readily available to research students throughout their programme (see paragraph 40 above).
Change of Supervisors
- If one of the supervisors is likely to be absent for a substantial period, normally one month or more, the supervisory team, in consultation with the research student, should collectively assist the Faculty/Accredited Institution in designating a temporary or permanent replacement, and make appropriate handover arrangements.
Responsibilities of the Research Student
A request for change of supervisor can come from a member of the supervisory team or from the research student. Consultation between all parties should occur at an early stage (see also paragraph 106 below). Changes to the main supervisor and/or any member of the supervisory team must be approved by the Director of the Faculty Graduate School. Records should be kept of the reason for any change. Suitable handover arrangements should be implemented and the new supervisory relationship monitored by the Graduate School.
Research students who fail to engage with these responsibilities may be subject to the Procedures for Circumstances that may lead to Withdrawal or Termination.
- The ultimate responsibility for the thesis lies with the research student and it is therefore essential that s/he participates fully in planning the research project, considering advice and discussing the work with the main supervisor or supervisory team. Particular responsibilities of the research student will include:
In addition, it is the responsibility of the research student to conform to both the University's Intellectual Property Regulations, and the University’s Ethics Policy (see Paragraph 32 above), consulting as appropriate with a relevant member of the supervisory team.
- Showing commitment to the research project and programme of studies. Full time research students are expected to spend, on average, a minimum of 37 hours per week on their studies throughout their registration period. Expectations for part-time research students are on a pro-rata basis. See paragraph 61 for information on holiday entitlements.
- Discussing with one or more members of the supervisory team the type of guidance and commitment found to be most helpful, agreeing and adhering to a schedule of meetings, and the importance of preparation for these.
- Agreeing with one or more members of the supervisory team the amount of time to be devoted to the research and the timing and duration of any holiday periods (see Paragraph 61 below).
- Analysing, with assistance from one or more members of the supervisory team, any initial or on-going training needs with respect to research and generic/transferable skills as part of the Academic Needs Analysis, and participating in appropriate training activities as advised by one or more members of the supervisory team in order to meet these needs.
- Maintaining the progress of the work in accordance with the research plan agreed with one or more members of the supervisory team, including submission of written material in sufficient time to allow for comment and discussion before proceeding to the next stage.
- Providing regular updates on progress (through Activity Reports on PGR tracker, or equivalent systems), at least every three months for full time reseaarch students.
- Providing timely information, as required by the Faculty/Accredited Institution's usual systems, ahead of progression reviews.
- Complying with the deadlines associated with progression reviews.
- Depositing data from the research project as required in the appropriate University repository.
- Taking the initiative in raising problems or difficulties however trivial they may seem (this is a recognised aspect of the relationship between a research student and the supervisory team); where difficulties are perceived (by the research student) to stem from inadequate supervision, this should be raised with the appropriate Faculty/Accredited Institution authority (see paragraph 106 below).
- Where applicable, discussing with one or more members of the supervisory team any changes in learning support needs which may arise during the period of study.
- Attending conferences and participating in staff and research student seminars, presenting work where appropriate and as guided by the supervisory team.
- Being aware of the diverse cultural, social and educational backgrounds of fellow research students, recognising the actual and potential benefits this brings to the learning experience.
- Preparing papers for publication or presentation at conferences, as guided by the supervisory team.
- Abiding by the institutional safety policy, observing safe working practices at all times, and following procedures prescribed by the supervisor.
- Deciding when the thesis is to be submitted after taking due account of advice from one or more members of the supervisory team as appropriate.
- Submitting the final thesis in print as may be required, and electronically as set out in the University’s Research Degree Candidature: Submission and Completion documentation (may be subject to restriction only in exceptional circumstances – see Paragraph 105 below).
Responsibilities of the Faculty/Accredited Institution 2
- Although much of the responsibility for ensuring the student's research reaches a successful completion is shared between the research student and the supervisor(s), the Faculty/Accredited Institution (under the aegis of the ERDC2) has overall responsibility for the process. The Faculty/Accredited Institution should satisfy itself that the appropriate requirements of the Regulations and this Code of Practice are met.
- In addition, and as set out in paragraphs 51 to 54 below, Faculties/the Accredited Institution should ensure that research students are accepted into an environment which provides support and facilities for their overall learning and for their development as researchers.
Facilities and Equipment
- The research environment plays a key role in ensuring that research students have the best possible opportunities to develop and bring their research projects to fruition. The Introductory Section of this Code (paragraphs 1 and 2) sets out in full the factors involved in creating a robust environment, and Faculties/the Accredited Institution should pay careful attention to these; these factors set the context for all areas covered by this Code. Faculties/the Accredited Institution should strive to create an infrastructure that is capable of supporting the range of research students recruited. Where appropriate, this may be located in or among other educational institutions, or in a work setting (for example, in industry).
Arrangements for Research Students based at a Distance
- Appropriate facilities and equipment to support students' research should be made available and explained in a clear statement to research students. These facilities should meet in full the expectations of the relevant Research Council(s), and for full-time research students will include as a minimum:
Advice should be sought from the relevant services (e.g. Wessex Needs Assessment Centre, Enabling Services (covering Disability Advice and Support, Mentoring and the Ancillary Learning Support Service), Dyslexia Services and the Assistive Technology Service) with regard to accessing any specialist equipment or assistive technology for research students who may need such support.
- access to appropriate space to work, as indicated by the research student’s academic needs analysis and by Faculty policy;
- the provision of laboratory and technical support where appropriate;
- access to either a laptop or a desktop computer from the standard range; a request for a more powerful specification computer forms part of the initial Academic Needs Analysis discussion (see paragraph 28, above);
- appropriate access to telephone, fax and photocopying facilities;
- opportunities to meet and network with other research students and researchers;
- appropriate library and other academic support services;
- the opportunity to apply for funds to support training and for attendance at conferences and other relevant events.
Part-time research students who are allocated space and computer facilities would normally be assigned these facilities on a shared basis only. Part-time research students should also have access to other facilities and services as outlined above.
- Where a Faculty/Accredited Institution admits research students based at a distance from the University, satisfactory arrangements must be put in place to ensure an equivalent experience to locally-based research students. Faculties should refer to the Quality Handbook for further guidance on the modes of PhD that include periods of study away from the University. See also paragraph 40 above on Responsibilities of the Supervisory Team. Such arrangements will include:
- a specified number of face-to-face meetings with members of the supervisory team as appropriate which may be supplemented by email, video-conferencing and other means of communication;
- access to appropriate training and personal development activities by means of existing training opportunities or, alternatively, equivalent training which may include web-based training or other distance means;
- opportunities to network and interact with staff and fellow research students, either face-to-face or through a virtual environment.
- The above arrangements should be agreed and recorded on an individual basis for each research student, and should be approved by the Faculty/Accredited Institution and kept under review as part of the annual review process. In some cases, it may be appropriate to consider agreeing joint supervision arrangements with another institution (see Regulations 10 and 12 of the Regulations for Research Degrees).
Submission and Completion Rates
- Faculties/the Accredited Institution must have in place mechanisms to collect, review and, where appropriate, respond to feedback from research students, supervisors, examiners, external parties and others concerned with postgraduate research programmes. Separate arrangements should exist for obtaining individual and collective feedback and, when appropriate, for publishing the results of collective feedback and actions taken. Timescales for the feedback and review cycle should be clearly specified and should occur at least annually, using mechanisms that allow for comparison and consistency across feedback and review cycles. Faculties/the Accredited Institution should also strongly encourage research students to participate in national surveys, endorsed by the University, requesting research student feedback. Faculty Graduate Schools should also collect, review and, where appropriate, respond to research student feedback on their training activities. Wherever possible feedback should be gathered and processed anonymously, unless the research student’s permission is otherwise given.
Teaching and Demonstrating Duties
- Faculties/the Accredited Institution should monitor submission and completion rates for both full-time and part-time research students, and report on these in the annual quality monitoring cycle. Submission rates for full-time research students should be at least as good as the minimum thresholds laid down by the various Research Councils. Completion rates for full-time and part-time research students are monitored by HEFCE through their annual HESA return, and Faculties/the Accredited Institution should be aware of the sector average against which HEFCE benchmarks institutions.
- Having completed faculty-approved training, research students should, wherever possible, be offered the opportunity to undertake teaching or demonstrating duties, provided this does not encroach on their studies. Faculties/the Accredited Institution should ensure that such activities, including preparation for marking, do not make excessive demands on the research student's time. As far as possible, Faculties/the Accredited Institution should comply with guidelines laid down by the relevant Research Council on working hours.
Health and Safety
- Where appropriate, research students will be encouraged by their supervisor(s) to produce articles and papers for publication during candidature. This work should not take precedence over the writing of the thesis and supervisors should give advice about an appropriate balance.
- It is the supervisory team's responsibility to advise the research student on safety procedures, especially if the research project entails working with dangerous equipment and materials or is being carried out in a laboratory environment. It is the research student's responsibility to abide by the University's Health and Safety Policy, to comply with safe working practices at all times and to follow those procedures prescribed by the supervisor(s).
Holidays and Absence due to Ill Health
- It is the supervisory team's responsibility to ensure that the University's Equality and Diversity policy is taken into account in all aspects of the research student's experience as a research student.
Absence due to Ill Health
- In addition to University closure periods and bank holidays, full-time research students are permitted to take a further 26 days annual leave. For part-time research students this is applicable on a pro-rata basis. Research students should seek the prior agreement of their supervisory team (in practice this will normally be the co-ordinating supervisor) regarding the timing of holidays. The annual leave year runs from 1st August to 31st July; if you commence your research part way through the academic year, your annual leave allowance will be calculated on a pro rata basis. International research students on a Tier 4 visa should refer to the Student Services Visa Guidance information.
Progress Monitoring and Reviews
- Research students experiencing illness that impacts on their studies are subject to the Regulations Governing Special Considerations and suspension of candidature for Postgraduate Research students. For periods of illness longer than five days, and for research students in receipt of a medical certificate confirming that they are unable to pursue their studies for medical reasons, research students must discuss the impact of the illness on their studies with their main supervisor or designated co-ordinator of their supervisory team (see the University of Southampton Attendance Regulations in Section IV of the University Calendar). This also applies to part-time research students on a pro-rata basis. Research Council funded research students should check the terms of their studentship with regard to advising the Council of any absence due to illness and the provision of a medical certificate. It is good practice for research students to keep their main supervisor or co-ordinating supervisor advised of any short periods of illness, particularly if these are frequent, so that any potential impact on progress can be identified and any additional support provided if thought necessary.
Monitoring and Supporting Research Student Progress
- Faculties/the Accredited Institution will have in place, and bring to the attention of research students and relevant staff, clearly defined mechanisms for monitoring and supporting research student progress.
- Supervisory teams and research students should establish a mutually agreed series of meetings, both formal and informal, to discuss progress and any problems arising.
- Faculties/the Accredited Institution should have clear mechanisms for feeding back to the research student information on progress and on actions that are taken in response to any issues encountered.
- When reviewing progress, supervisors should routinely assess whether the support needs of their research students are being effectively met.
- Faculties/the Accredited Institution will provide guidance on keeping appropriate records of the outcomes of meetings and related activities to research students, supervisors and others involved in progress monitoring and review processes. Activity reports in PGR Tracker, or equivalent system, will normally be the appropriate mechanism to record the outcome of meetings.
- It is the responsibility of the main supervisor to inform the research student of unsatisfactory progress as soon as this becomes apparent. Unsatisfactory progress may include a lack of engagement with the project, repeated failure to meet agreed milestones or attend scheduled meetings, to maintain accepted professional standards, or to engage in appropriate/required training and personal development activities. If discussion between the research student and appropriate members of the supervisory team fails to resolve the issue, the Faculty/Accredited Institution should follow the procedures laid out in the Procedures for Circumstances that may lead to Withdrawal or Termination.
Interim Progression Reviews
- Research students who enrolled on their doctoral level studies after 1 August 2016 are required to undertake three Progression Reviews during the course of their studies. The second Progression Review is known as Confirmation (paragraphs 70-79 below). Two attempts at each review are permitted; failure to meet the criteria for a successful progression review will lead to a termination of a research student's candidature in line with the Procedures for Circumstances that may lead to Withdrawal or Termination.
Research students who enrolled on their doctoral studies before 1 August 2016 will follow the Progression Monitoring timings and procedures as determined by their Faculty which applied at the time of their admission. Students should refer back to their Faculty for further information. Research students who enrolled before 1 August 2016 will also follow the timings for upgrade/transfer from MPhil to PhD registration that applied at the time of their admission. Paragraph 64 provides a summary of these timings depending on year of entry. The policy and procedure outlined in paragraphs 70-79 'Confirmation of PhD status', will apply to research students who registered prior to 1 August 2016 when completing their upgrade/transfer from MPhil to PhD registration, rather than a confirmation of PhD status.
|Summary of timings of confirmation of PhD registration/Upgrade from MPhil to PhD*
|Time of Entry
|After 1 August 2016
||18 - 21 months
||30 - 42 months
|1st August 2015 - 1st August 2016
||18 - 21 months
||30 - 42 months
|Before 1st August 2015
||At least 6 months before final thesis submission
||At least 6 months before final thesis submission
*These timings may be adjusted on a pro-rata basis for research students registered on non-standard research programmes where other duties are a formal part of the programme; for example, the Clinical Doctorate Research Fellowship scheme or the Mayflower Scholarship scheme.
Research students who do not submit material for attempt one of a progression review by the specified deadline, and no request has been submitted or approved under the Regulations Governing Special Considerations and suspension of candidature for Postgraduate Research students, will be deemed to have failed this attempt. Research students who do not submit material for attempt two of a progression by the specified deadline, and no request has been submitted or approved under the Regulations Governing Special Considerations and suspension of candidature for Postgraduate Research students, will be deemed to have failed this attempt and will be withdrawn in line with the Procedures for circumstances that may lead to withdrawal or termination.
Faculties/the Accredited Institution will bring to the attention of research students, and relevant staff, clearly defined formats of assessment which inform the Progression Reviews, including the criteria to be used for defining outcomes from Progression Reviews. As a minimum, research students must submit a written report which should summarise progress made since the last report. Any particular problems encountered by the research student, (e.g. access to resources or facilities or other additional disability-related or language support requirements) should be indicated in this report and appropriate action taken. The report should also indicate whether any additional support requirements or facilities already being provided for a particular research student are continuing to meet that research student's needs, or if any adjustments for the coming period are required.
The Review must also include a viva. Following a Progression Review, a research student will be given written feedback by the panel and, if necessary, guidance on actions to be taken to support progress in their candidature.
Decisions following Progression Reviews will be made according to the following timings for research students on a standard research programme. In all cases, the time windows refer to periods in which progression decisions must be made. Research students will be required to provide all the relevant material by a submission deadline stated in PGR Tracker, or equivalent system, as set by their faculty/discipline. This will normally be at least four working weeks in advance of the decision deadline to allow the panel to consider the material, hold meeting, and make a recommendation within the specified timeframe. Timings refer to the full month i.e. the decision from the first attempt at the first Progression Review should be made between the beginning of month 8 and the end of month 10. These timings may be adjusted for research students following a non-standard pathway.
In exceptional circumstances, and for academic reasons only, a research student may be permitted to undergo their progression review earlier than the timeframe specified. In such a case, the request must be made by the main supervisor to the Faculty Graduate School Directorate for recommendation to the Faculty Programmes Committee for approval. In the case of the Accredited Institutions, a recommendation must be made to ERDC.
|First Progression Review
||Months 8 - 10
||Before the end of month 12
||Months 18 - 21
||Before the end of month 24
|Second Progression Review (Confirmation)
||Months 18 - 21
||Before the end of month 24
||Months 30 - 42
||Before the end of month 48
|Third Progression Review
||Months 30 - 33
||Before the end of month 36
||Months 61 - 66
||Before the end of month 72
- The format of assessment informing the first Progression Review will be determined by the Faculty/Accredited Institution and will include a review of the academic needs analysis. The assessment will be conducted by an internal independent assessor and a member of the supervisory team. In exceptional circumstances, with the permission of the Director of the Faculty Graduate School, an external independent assessor may be appointed. Following the review, the independent assessor will recommend either to: progress to the next stage of candidature; to re-assess. If re-assessment is recommended, the research student will be given written guidance on preparation for their second (and final) attempt.
The second attempt at the first Progression Review, in line with the Procedures for Circumstances that may lead to Withdrawal or Termination, will have the same format as the first attempt, and will usually be conducted by the same panel as for the first attempt. In exceptional circumstances, the Director of the Faculty Graduate School may wish to appoint a third panel member. The second attempt at the first Progression Review will involve a re-viva. However, if the assessors deem that the Report is sufficient to progress, the re-viva will be cancelled. The panel will include an independent chair. In exceptional circumstances, an independent note taker will be appointed by the Director of the Faculty Graduate School. The review will lead to one of two recommendations: to progress to the next stage of candidature; to terminate the research student's candidature.
- The second Progression Review consists of the Confirmation process (paragraphs 70 - 79 below) and will also include a review of the academic needs analysis.
- The format of the assessment informing the third Progression Review will be determined by the Faculty/Accredited Institution and will include a review of the academic needs analysis. As a minimum, in line with the Procedures for Circumstances that may lead to Withdrawal or Termination, the review will include details of the thesis structure and a plan for submission. The review will lead to one of two recommendations: to progress to the final stage of candidature; to re-assess with a full panel. If re-assessment is recommended, the research student will be given written guidance on preparation for their second (and final) attempt.
The format of the assessment informing the second attempt at the third Progression Review will be determined by the Faculty/Accredited Institution and will be conducted by a member of the supervisory team and an internal independent assessor appointed by the Director of the Faculty Graduate School. In exceptional circumstances, with the permission of the Director of the Faculty Graduate School, an external independent assessor may be appointed. In exceptional circumstances, the Director of the Faculty Graduate School may wish to appoint a third panel member. The second attempt at the third Progression Review will involve a viva. However, if the assessors deem that the Report is sufficient to progress, the viva will be cancelled. The panel will include an independent chair. In exceptional circumstances, an independent note taker will be appointed by the Director of the Faculty Graduate School. The review will lead to one of three recommendations: to progress to the final stage of candidature; to transfer to MPhil candidature; to terminate the research student's candidature. With regards to transfer of programme, the University will comply with its obligations under the relevant immigration legislation which may be updated from time to time. A research student who is concerned about his/her entitlement to remain in the UK following a failure to progress should seek urgent advice from the Student Visa Guidance Service.
In the exceptional circumstance that it is recommended that a research student's candidature is terminated at this point, the recommendation should be taken as immediate notice to the student that any submitted thesis will not be examined by the Faculty, as laid out in the Procedures for Circumstances that may lead to Withdrawal or Termination.
Exceptional Progression Reviews
- All part-time research students who have not undergone a Progression Review in the previous twelve months of candidature should undergo an Interim Progression Review. If a research student is due to submit a Progression Review Report within the next month, the Director of the Faculty Graduate School may waive the requirements for an Interim Review.
Interim Progression Reviews cannot lead directly to termination. However they are formal points in a research student's candidature and should be treated as such. Interim Progression Reviews are also the method by which 'The Faculty Graduate School directorate/ERDC5 may at any time review the progress of an individual research student (Regulations for Research Degrees; paragraph 36).
The format of the assessment informing the Interim Progression Review will be determined by the Faculty/Accredited institution, and will involve all members of the supervisory team. It will usually involve a review of progress since the last Progression Review, a review of the academic needs analysis, and, where relevant, details of the research student's plan to submit the thesis. An Interim Progression Review has no standard outcome but, as a minimum, research students will be given written feedback and, if necessary, guidance on actions to be taken to support progress in their candidature. An unsatisfactory Interim Progression Review may lead to an Exceptional Progression Review, in line with the Procedures for Circumstances that may lead to Withdrawal or Termination.
Confirmation of Doctoral Candidature (Second Progression Review)
- In line with the Procedures for Circumstances that may lead to Withdrawal or Termination, Exceptional Progression Reviews may be scheduled on the direction of the Director of the Faculty Graduate School if significant academic concerns about a reseearch student have been raised, either independently or as a result of an Interim Progression Review. Exceptional Progression Reviews usually follow the procedures for confirmation and should be carried out by two independent assessors.
Exceptional Progression Reviews will lead to one of two recommendations: to continue in candidature; or to terminate candidature.
The Confirmation Panel
- The policy and procedure outlined in paragraphs 71-79 'Confirmation of Doctoral Candidature', will apply to research students who registered prior to 1 August 2016, when completing their upgrade/transfer from MPhil to PhD registration, rather than a confirmation of doctoral candidature. Research students who enrolled on their doctoral studies before 1 August 2016 will follow the Progression Monitoring timings and procedures as outlined in the Code of Practice which applied at the time of their admission, available through the archive of the University's Calendar. However, note that all upgrade/confirmation panels must consist of at least two independent assessors regardless of year of entry.
- All research students who are registered at doctoral level must successfully meet the requirements of a confirmation panel. For full time research students, the confirmation decision must be made between the beginning of the 18th month and the end of the 21st month following the start of the research phase of the research student's programme. For part time research students the confirmation decision must be made between the beginning of the 30th month and the end of the 42nd month following the start of the research phase of the student's programme. These timings may be adjusted on a pro rata basis for research students registered on a non-standard research programme where other duties are a formal part of the programme, for example, the Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship scheme or the Mayflower Scholarship scheme. Research students will be required to provide all the relevant material by a submission deadline stated in PGR Tracker, or equivalent system. This will normally be at least four working weeks in advance of the decision deadline to allow the panel to consider the material, hold meeting, and make a recommendation within the specified timeframe. Faculties/the Accredited Institution should have a clear policy on the scrutiny of confirmation reports. Confirmation of doctoral candidature should be recommended only after a formal review of the research topic, of its suitability for development into a doctoral thesis, and of the research student's ability and progress. The procedure will vary according to the discipline and should involve the practice and criteria set out in paragraphs 73 - 75 below. Research students who do not comply with the research submission deadlines set by their faculty may be subject to the Procedures for Circumstances that may lead to Withdrawal or Termination.
Criteria for Confirmation
- The recommendation whether or not to confirm doctoral candidature will be made by a confirmation panel constituted for the purpose. The confirmation panel will consist of at least two members of staff who have had no direct involvement in the research and can take the role of independent 'assessors'. One of these members of staff should act as chair of the panel. In addition, a member of the supervisory team will normally be invited to attend as an observer; however, research students can request the opportunity to meet the confirmation panel without a supervisor being present. This request should be made through the Faculty Graduate School Office. The panel will assess the written work submitted by the research student. In exceptional circumstances, the Director of the Faculty Graduate School may approve an independent assessor who has been appointed as a 'Visitor' to the University.
- In order for doctoral status to be confirmed, the following criteria must be met:
- that the research student has demonstrated the ability to manage the research project, to become proficient in the special field of research involved, and to achieve success at doctoral level given adequate motivation and perseverance;
- that the project being undertaken is of sufficient scope, originality and theoretical interest to constitute a genuine contribution to the subject in the form of the understanding of a problem, the advancement of knowledge or the generation of new ideas.
- The confirmation panel making the recommendation must have reviewed a sufficient body of written work in order to make a judgement on the criteria noted in paragraph 73 above. This body of work should include:
- an overview of the research problem and rationale for the project;
- a substantial literature review;
- well-developed plans for fieldwork and data analysis.
- In addition there should also be some form of viva examination, based on the research student's written submission for confirmation. In conducting the viva, arrangements will be made, where necessary, to accommodate the requirements of research students with special communication needs. The viva examination should be led by the chair of the confirmation panel (as defined in The Confirmation Panel - see paragraph 72 above). A member of the supervisory team may be present only as an observer. However, research students can request the opportunity to meet the transfer or confirmation panel without a supervisor being present. This request should be made through the Faculty Graduate School Office.
Transfer from PhD to MPhil
- A recommendation from the confirmation panel must be made to the appropriate Faculty/Accredited Institution committee which is charged with responsibility for confirming doctoral candidature. The recommendation should be supported by all members of the confirmation panel (see paragraph 79 for circumstances where a unanimous decision cannot be reached). Research students who have been successful in their confirmation should receive written feedback on the confirmation process highlighting, where appropriate, any potential areas of concern. If the recommendation is not to confirm doctoral candidature, the research student must be given a written report giving a statement of the reasons, guidance regarding any ways in which s/he might reach the required standard, and offered the opportunity for a second (and final) confirmation panel, in line with the Procedures for Circumstances that may lead to Withdrawal or Termination.
- A date for a second confirmation panel should be set such that a final decision can be reached within the specified timescale. For full time research students, a decision from the second confirmation panel should be made by the end of the 24th month following the start of the research phase of the research student's programme. For part-time research students a decision from the second confirmation panel should be made by the end of the 48th month following the start of the research phase of the research student's programme. These timings may be adjusted on a pro rata basis for research students registered on a non-standard research programme where other duties are a formal part of the programme, for example, the Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship scheme or the Mayflower Scholarship scheme. Research students will be required to provide all the relevant material by a submission deadline stated in PGR Tracker, or equivalent system. This will normally be at least four working weeks in advance of the decision deadline to allow the panel to consider the material, hold the confirmation panel meeting, and make a decision within the specified timeframes. Faculties/the Accredited Institution should have a clear policy on the scrutiny of confirmation reports.
- The second panel may make one of three recommendations: to recommend that a research student's doctoral candidature is confirmed; to recommend that the research student is transferred to an MPhil programme, or to recommend that the research student's candidature is terminated. With regards to transfer of programme, the University will comply with its obligations under the relevant immigration legislation which may be updated from time to time. A research student who is concerned about his/her entitlement to remain in the UK following a failure to progress should seek urgent advice from the Student Visa Guidance Service.
- If a unanimous decision cannot be reached in either the first or second confirmation panel an additional assessor shall be appointed by the Director of the Faculty Graduate School/Chair of ERDC5 and provided by the Faculty Graduate School Office/Accredited Institution with a copy of the confirmation report and the separate reports of the two original assessors. The additional assessor shall be permitted to interview the research student before submitting a final report and recommendation to the Director of the Faculty Graduate School/Chair of ERDC5 who shall consider the independent reports of the original assessors and the report of the additional assessor before making a final decision.
Transfer to Nominal Registration
- A research student may be permitted to transfer from PhD to MPhil at any time prior to the submission of the thesis. This may follow the outcome of the confirmation panel or later progression review, or may be at the request of the research student in consultation with his/her supervisory team at any stage during candidature. The MPhil is an award in its own right (see paragraphs 6 and 7 above), and a viva examination is required as part of the MPhil examination. Faculties should ensure that research students are made aware of this requirement. With regards to transfer of programme, the University will comply with its obligations under the relevant immigration legislation which may be updated from time to time. A research student who is concerned about his/her entitlement to remain in the UK following a failure to progress should seek urgent advice from the Student Visa Guidance Service.
Production and Submission of the Thesis
- An MPhil or PhD research student may be allowed to transfer to nominal registration when the main supervisor can confirm that: the minimum period of candidature has been completed; confirmation has taken place (in the case of a PhD research student); research is substantially complete as determined by the Faculty Graduate School directorate/Accredited Institution (under the aegis of ERDC5); and the thesis is being written up. See Regulations 37 - 40 of the Regulations for Research Degrees for requirements in relation to nominal registration. Normally the supervisor(s) will be able to predict the likely completion date before agreeing to transfer of the research student to nominal registration. Applications to transfer to nominal registration must be submitted on-line through PGR Tracker or through the Student Office/Accredited Institution.
- A research student may remain in nominal registration for up to one year initially at which point the position should be reviewed by the Faculty or Accredited Institution. After six months in nominal registration a fee becomes payable. Time spent in nominal registration will count towards the total period of candidature.
Decision to Submit
- As stated in paragraph 21 of the Regulations for Research Degrees, a research student who fails to submit a thesis by the end of the maximum period of study will be deemed to have withdrawn from the programme. The requirements for the production of the thesis for submission (as set out in the University's Research Degree Candidature Submission and Completion documentation or from the Accredited Institution) should be followed.
Notification of Intention to Submit
- The decision to submit the thesis must be the research student's own. The research student should take note of supervision advice but this advice should not be taken as an indication that the final thesis will fulfil the requirements of the examiners. A supervisor must inform the Faculty/Accredited Institution office in writing if the research student submits without his/her agreement; this information will not be made known to the examiners but may be referred to in any subsequent discussions about the outcome of the examination, particularly where failure leads to an appeal.
Maximum Length of Thesis
- Research students must inform the appropriate Faculty/Accredited Institution Office of theirintention to submit (using the '‘Intention to Submit' form) no later than two months prior to the date of submission in order to allow adequate time for examination arrangements to be made. On returning from suspension a research student who intends to submit his/her thesis must give the required two months’ notice using the Intention to Submit form. The 'Intention to Submit' form may only be submitted by a research student in active registration.
Thesis Written in a Language other than English
- The maximum length of a thesis is normally 75,000 words for a PhD or 50,000 words for an MPhil, excluding references and bibliography, or equivalent in the case of alternative formats of thesis (also see paragraphs 8-10 above. A thesis submitted for an MPhil after a PhD examination is not subject to a maximum length of 50,000 words. The maximum length of the thesis does not include supporting material or evidence which may be bound in as appendices. Appendices should be clearly marked as such and listed on the contents page. If appendices are submitted in separate volumes, they must be prepared and bound in the same style as the thesis. All supporting material or evidence will be available to the examiners and will form part of the record.
In deciding whether to include an appendix, the research student should consider the requirements of the research funder as well as the University’s policy on research data management.
Research students who exceed the stipulated length for the thesis will normally be required by the examiners to re-submit in a form which does not exceed the maximum length. A research student may present, prior to notifying their intention to submit (para 85), a statement to the supervisory team indicating that the thesis cannot be contained within the stipulated length for reasons relating to the subject material. The supervisory team may then recommend, to the relevant Faculty or Accredited Institution committee, that a longer thesis be permitted.
Declaration of Authorship
- A thesis may be written in a language other than English with the approval of the Faculty Graduate School directorate. When considering such a recommendation, the relevant Faculty or Accredited Institution committee will take into account the nature of the research and discipline. It will require assurances that there will be no problems in examining the thesis and that the subsequent published work will be accessible to subject specialists.
- At the time of submission a thesis should include a signed declaration from the research student that the material presented for examination is his/her own work and has not been submitted for any other award (and, where relevant, how it relates to a group project).
- The University's Regulations Governing Academic Integrity state that research students are required to complete their work, and where relevant their professional practice, in accordance with the principles and practices set out in the regulations. In particular, all research students should avoid breaches of academic integrity such as plagiarism, cheating, falsification and recycling, breaching ethical standards and misconduct in research. Research students of the Accredited Institution should refer to the equivalent procedures as prescribed by their institution.
- Once a research student has given notice of intention to submit, appropriate examiners must be appointed and arrangements made for the examination. The examination, including the viva voce, should normally be completed within three months of submission. See the Quality Handbook for information on nomination of external examiners and examiners' nomination form.
- In order to ensure some externality and quality assurance of choices made and justifications provided, examiners' nomination forms should be approved at Faculty level by the Director of the Faculty Graduate School (or nominee).
- It is the responsibility of the member of the supervisory team acting as co-ordinating supervisor to ensure that the arrangements for the examination are made, including any arrangements for research students with disability-related communication needs (see also paragraph 100 below).
- The research student will normally be examined by an external and an internal examiner; in exceptional circumstances, one additional external examiner may be appointed. Research students who are members of staff of the University of Southampton should have two external examiners and an internal examiner appointed. For this purpose, a member of staff is defined as stated in paragraph 2 of the University's Regulations for members of staff in Candidature of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. No member of the supervisory team may be appointed as an internal examiner; nor may they take part in the judgement of the thesis under consideration in any other way. In addition, other researchers who have had any co-authoring or collaborative involvement in the research student's work, or whose own work is the focus of the research project such that there would be a conflict of interest or potential lack of objectivity, may not be appointed as internal or external examiners. Members of staff who have had pastoral involvement with the research student such that objectivity would potentially be affected may also not be appointed to the examining team. One examiner, either the internal or the external, may be drawn from the confirmation panel or committee (e.g. an internal member of staff who acted in the role of independent 'assessor' or an external 'assessor' if used) provided that he/she has had no further material contact with the research project since the confirmation, and that the other examiner is entirely new to the project. Examiners, both internal and external, should have sufficient experience and appropriate subject expertise to be able to examine effectively. They should also be sensitive to, and take into account in the examining process, individual research student differences and diversity. Collectively, the examiners should have acted as examiner for at least three doctoral examinations, and be familiar with examination practice and standards in the UK. As an example, if the external examiner possesses subject expertise but limited UK examining experience, this may be compensated for by a suitably UK-experienced internal examiner.
Role of the Main Supervisor in the Examination Process
- External examiners should normally hold academic posts in another higher education institution. Recommendations for examiners who do not hold such positions should be accompanied by a statement outlining their suitability and ability to examine, and there should be sufficient evidence of their research experience and expertise in the subject. External examiners should be independent and the criteria for appointing external examiners for research degrees should be followed as set out in the guidance in the Quality Handbook.
- Former employees and graduates of the University are not eligible to be external examiners until an interval of at least three years has elapsed. The external examiner should have had no formal academic contact with the research student during the period of research candidature and, although reciprocity may be more difficult to avoid than for taught programmes, examiners should not normally be appointed from Faculties where University members of staff have recently examined for the same subject if at all possible. Similarly, external examiners would not normally be expected to be reappointed if they have examined a research student at this University within the last two years. Staff in the University or the Accredited Institution are ineligible to act as external examiners for University of Southampton awards. University/Accredited Institution staff with appropriate expertise may however be appointed as internal examiners for University research students provided they have not been involved in the supervision of the research student, and vice-versa.
The viva voce Examination
- A supervisor should be available to provide clarification at the viva voce examination if requested by the examiners. Normally, members of the supervisory team will not be present at the viva voce examination, but at the request of the research student, one member of the supervisory team may be invited. Where the research student wishes a supervisor to be invited, s/he should submit a request in writing to the Faculty Graduate School Office. A supervisor who is requested to attend by the research student will not play an active role in the examination, neither will supervisors be appointed as examiners nor take part in the judgement of the thesis under consideration.
Recommendations of Examiners
- In line with arrangements for the approval of examiners, the responsibility for approving all examination arrangements lies with the Faculty Graduate School directorate. The document Guidance for Examiners for postgraduate research degrees provides additional information for staff and research students preparing for viva voce examinations. The viva voce examination will be chaired by the internal examiner or by an independent chair. Independent chairs must be appointed by the Faculty/Accredited Institution:
- in response to any request from the Faculty Graduate School, an examiner, a member of the supervisory team or the research student;
- where the examination team is inexperienced at examining under the UK system (when one examiner has never conducted a viva voce examination before);
- where the internal examiner holds a substantive post within University Hospitals Southampton or associated NHS organisation, or is a member of staff employed at the Natural Environmental Research Council or the National Oceanography Centre, or has a similar joint employment status between the University of Southampton and its partners;
- where there have been substantial difficulties with research student progress;
- where the viva voce examination is taking place with the assistance of video conferencing and/or other suitable technical communication;
- where the research student is undertaking a second viva voce examination either with or without a resubmission of the thesis.
The role of independent chair should be filled by a senior academic member of staff with substantial experience in supervising research students. The independent chair is not provided with a copy of the thesis.
- The role of the Chair is:
- to ensure the examination is conducted according to the University's regulations;
- to ensure that the research student is treated fairly and appropriately;
- to ensure that the outcome of the examination is fair and appropriate given the research student's performance;
- To provide a report after the viva voce examination to the Director of the Faculty Graduate School.
- In exceptional circumstances (e.g. where it is not possible for one of the parties to attend the viva voce examination in person) video conferencing or other suitable technical communication arrangements can be made for conduct of the viva voce examination, provided all parties are agreeable to these arrangements and all necessary safeguards are in place to facilitate the smooth running of the examination. Only in extreme circumstances should a research student be permitted to undertake a viva voce examination in a different room from the examiners. The Faculty should seek specialist advice from iSolutions as to the best method of facilitating a viva voce examination via video conference.
- In preparing for and conducting the viva voce examination arrangements will be made, where necessary, to accommodate the requirements of research students with special communication needs. In particular, examiners should be informed of any measures or adjustments needed in conducting the examination. For example, it is important that the room in which the viva voce examination is to be held is appropriately arranged to ensure accessibility and clear communication.
Consideration of Examiners' Recommendations
- Each examiner will prepare an independent written report on the thesis and make this available to the other examiner(s) prior to the viva voce examination. After a viva voce examination the examiners will prepare a joint report within one working week on the conduct of the viva voce examination which includes an agreed recommendation. The relevant University Examiners' Joint Report and Recommendation Form which lists criteria for assessing the research student (see paragraphs 5 to 7 above), should be completed and submitted to the Graduate School Office. The research student should be given a copy of the completed joint report by the Graduate School Office and, if amendments are required, written guidance on revisions to the thesis. The timing for amendments begins at the point the student receives the written report from the Graduate School Office. In cases where the examiners are unable to reach agreement, a further external examiner should be appointed to assess the thesis and the other examiners' reports (see also paragraph 104, Consideration of Examiners' Recommendations). The examiners' recommendations must take one of the following forms.
It should be noted that where the recommendation of the examiners is for re-examination at a later date as set out in paragraph e. above, options d. and e. are not available as outcomes at the later re-examination.
- That the degree for which the research student has submitted a thesis be awarded.
- That the degree for which the research student has submitted a thesis be awarded subject to minor amendments to the thesis being made by a date specified (minor amendments include: minor errors/omissions of substance, typographical errors, occasional stylistic or grammatical flaws, corrections to references, addition/modification to one or two figures, and minor changes to layout, and require no new research; these changes need only be certified by the internal examiner). The date specified for the submission of such minor amendments should normally be no later than three months after the formal notification to the research student.
- That the degree for which the research student has submitted a thesis be awarded subject to the correction of modest errors/omissions of substance being made by a date specified (the procedure for certification of the amendments should be clearly specified in the report). Such amendments may require limited further analysis but will not affect the originality of the central thesis. They will be of a scale to require certification by both the internal and external examiners, though normally not so extensive that a further viva voce examination is required. The date specified for the submission of such modest amendments should normally be no later than six months, although examiners may request a specified date of up to nine months, after the formal notification to the research student.
- That the research student be required to attend for a further viva voce examination within three months of the date of the original viva voce examination.
- That the research student be permitted to resubmit by a date specified a revised thesis for the same degree for re-examination, including an additional viva voce examination, on one subsequent occasion. The date specified for submission of the revised thesis should normally be no later than twelve months after the formal notification to the research student. The Fees Office should be informed when a research student has been asked to submit a revised thesis.
- That, in the case only of a PhD research student who has failed to satisfy the examiners, permission may be given to the research student to apply within a specified time for the award of the degree of MPhil. Submission may be allowed without re-examination, subject to any minor amendment of the thesis which may be required by the examiners. Or, at the request of the examiners, submission of a revised thesis may be subject to re-examination, including a viva voce examination. In such circumstances, the work must meet the normal criteria for the award of the MPhil degree.
- That the degree be not awarded and that re-submission of the thesis be not permitted.
A research student who fails to submit a corrected or revised thesis by the date set by the examiners shall normally be regarded as having failed the examination and the recommendations of the examiners shall lapse, in line with the Procedures for Circumstances that may lead to Withdrawal or Termination. In exceptional circumstances a revised date for submitting corrections may be approved in accordance with the Regulations Governing Special Considerations and suspension of candidature for Postgraduate Research
- A research student must satisfy the examiners in both the thesis and the viva voce examination. A research student may fail either the thesis or the viva voce examination or both and the examiners may recommend re-examination only in that part in which the research student failed. This may not apply if additional work required substantially modifies the submission; on the other hand, where a thesis has demonstrated adequate practical work but insufficient theoretical knowledge, then viva voce re-examination only may be required.
- Research students required to make minor or modest amendments, or to submit a revised thesis for re-examination, should be given a clear and prompt statement by the examiners of what is required and by what date. The timescale should be agreed by all parties. When minor corrections have been submitted, the research student should normally be informed whether they have been approved within three weeks of their submission. In the case of modest corrections/amendments, the research student should normally be informed whether they have been approved within six weeks of their submission, or sooner if possible. It is the responsibility of the co-ordinating supervisor to ensure that the corrections are approved promptly (although in practice this may be delegated to an administrative member of staff) so that the research student's degree can be awarded as soon as possible.
Access to the Thesis
- The reports of the examiners and their recommendations should be scrutinised and approved by the Director of the Faculty Graduate School (or nominee). The outcome of each examination should be formally reported to the Faculty Programmes Committee and, for Accredited Institution research students, the resulting recommendations should be submitted to the External Research Degrees Committee (ERDC5). Under the exceptional circumstances that the appointed examiners are unable to reach agreement, the examiners shall submit independent reports, and the Faculty Graduate School directorate /Accredited Institution shall recommend to the Faculty Programmes Committee/ERDC5 the appointment of an additional external examiner. The additional examiner shall be provided by the Faculty Graduate School Office/Accredited Institution with a copy of the thesis/dissertation and the separate reports of the two original examiners. The additional examiner shall be permitted to interview the research student before submitting a final report and recommendation to the Director of the Faculty Graduate School/Chair of ERDC5 who shall consider the independent reports of the original examiners and the report of the additional examiner(s) before reporting to the Faculty Programmes Committee/ERDC5.
Complaints and Appeals
- The results of research should be freely available. Theses are accessible in the University Library or electronically through the University of Southampton Research Repository. Research which is subject to security classification is not therefore appropriate for a higher degree, and theses may be subject to restriction only in exceptional circumstances when the relevant Faculty Programmes Committee/ERDC5, on behalf of Senate, approves restricted access for a period not normally exceeding three years from the date of examination. Although this decision may be taken by the relevant Faculty Programmes Committee/ERDC5 on behalf of Senate, each instance of approval of restriction of access should be reported to the University Library. The University Library will maintain a master list to be presented annually to the Doctoral College Board.
- If, during the period of study, the research student feels that the research project is not proceeding satisfactorily for reasons outside his/her control or that an effective working relationship with a supervisor is not being established or maintained, s/he should first consult another member of the supervisory team about the situation, or a member of the Faculty pastoral care team. If such discussions do not improve matters, research students should refer to the University's Regulations Governing Student Complaints. The Regulations explain in detail the procedure for submitting a complaint, as well as providing information about using mediation as an alternative informal method of dispute resolution. Research students can obtain free, independent and confidential advice about submitting a complaint from the SUSU Advice Centre. Research students at the Accredited Institutions are required to follow their Institution’s complaint regulations and procedures.
- A research student may appeal any academic decision made by the University, with the exception of certain exclusions, if s/he can produce evidence of one or more of the grounds outlined within the University's Regulations Governing Academic Appeals by Students in Section IV of the University Calendar. Research students are advised to consult with the SUSU - Advice Centre which can provide free, independent and confidential advice as well as representation in such matters. Research students at the Accredited Institution are required to follow their Institution’s appeals regulations and procedures.
- A research student may apply for Special Considerations under the Regulations Governing Special Considerations and suspension of candidature for Postgraduate Research students. These regulations apply to all research degrees, but do not cover taught assessed components of research degrees, which are governed in accordance with the Regulations Governing Special Considerations (including Deadline Extension Requests) for all Taught Programmes and Taught Assessed Components of Research Degrees.
- 1 Regulations for doctoral degrees may be found in the University Calendar Section V and under particular Academic Regulations.
- 2 The outcomes cited here for both PhD and MPhil are taken from Part A of the UK Quality Code for Higher Education: The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies, November 2014.
- 3 Based on the AHRC's Policy Paper on 'Research in the Creative and Performing Arts', September 2003.
- 4 Equivalent to 180 credits at Level 7, and 360 at Level 8 CATS.
- 5 The principal role of the External Research Degrees Committee is to make decisions on the admission, candidature, progress and examination of all research students in the Accredited Institutions, within the academic areas approved for this purpose by the University.
Approved by AQSC on 27 April 2005 and by Senate on 22 June 2005
Approved by AQSC on 31 May 2006 and 11 July and by Senate in July 2006 [Chair's Action]
Amendments approved by AQSC on 6 June/11 July 2007, by Senate on 20 June 2007 and by Chair's Action for Senate July 2007
Amendments approved by AQSC on 23 April/4 June 2008 and by Senate on 18 June 2008
Amendments approved by Senate on 18 November 2009.
Revisions approved by UPC in July 2011
Revisions approved by UPC and Senate in November 2011
Amendments approved by UPC in April and May 2013 and by Senate in June 2013
Amendments approved by AQSC in May 2014 and by Senate in June 2014
Amendments approved by AQSC in July 2015 and by the Vice-Chancellor on behalf of Senate in July 2015
Amendments approved by AQSC in May 2016, by AQSC in June 2016 [Chair's Action], and by Senate in July 2016
Amendments approved by AQSC in May 2017 and by Senate in June 2017