Research Degrees - Structure of Programmes

The University's academic year commences in September and is based on three periods of study a year. However, the work of research students is less tied to the termly structure than that of taught course students. They may therefore currently commence their work at any point in the year (though check that this is the case in your chosen subject), and are expected to study for around 44 weeks in each year. Research students tend to work closely with academic staff who are combining their research activity with undergraduate and postgraduate teaching responsibilities. Also much experimental or laboratory work, or archive research, has to take place outside normal working hours - sometimes in the evenings or at weekends.

Each candidate is registered for the degree of Master or Doctor by research works under the general supervision of two supervisors, at least one of whom will be a full-time member of staff and will act as the principal supervisor.

At registration, students are given the Research Students' Handbook , which includes guidance on regulations affecting their study.

Students normally agree with their supervisors, at the beginning of their course, a schedule of meetings, a timetable of work (including taught courses, seminars and conferences to be attended) and possible submission dates. To complete their degree programme successfully, they will be expected to:

  • follow a programme of induction and training on research methods*;
  • achieve a satisfactory level of performance in any required taught courses*;
  • attend lectures, courses and colloquia as directed by their supervisors;
  • carry out an approved programme of research to a satisfactory standard.

There may be opportunities for research students to undertake teaching or demonstration work for taught course students and the University also provides training for those who wish to be employed in this way.

Assessment of progress

Research students have to produce, at least annually, a short formal report of their progress for discussion with their supervisors and other members of academic staff. A record of each of these discussions is submitted to the University Registry and a copy is given to the student. Other opportunities to discuss study issues during the year are provided by schools, either on an individual basis or through staff/student liaison meetings or postgraduate representatives on relevant University committees. After successful completion of a research project, the student presents a thesis and, if this is judged satisfactory, a research degree (MPhil or Doctorate) may be awarded.

* For the NewRoutePhD, the length, variety and number of taught modules will be significantly greater than for the standard three-year PhD.


Page last updated: Thursday 05 June 2014