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Progression to PhD

Below is a summary of the key points of the progression process.  For further information see the University's Regulations for Research Degrees (Section 11) available on the Academic Quality Unit website.

In order to confirm your progression to PhD a recommendation must be made by the Dean (or his/her nominee) of the Faculty to the Research Degrees Committee:

  • For full-time students this will be between 12 and 18 months after initial registration.
  • For part-time students this will be between 24 and 36 months after initial registration.

Only in exceptional circumstances, is progression permitted before 12 months for full-time and 24 months for part-time.

The progression must be achieved:

  • Within 24 months after initial registration for full-time students.
  • Within 36 months after initial registration for part-time students.

The detailed arrangements for assessment prior to progression vary from one academic area to another. The following are minimum requirements set by the University:

  • Students should submit a full written report on the research to-date and a detailed timetable for further work.
  • The Supervisor is required to submit a full written report on the progress made by the student.
  • The progression will be considered by a panel (Progression Review Panel) generally consisting of the Director of Postgraduate Research and one or more members of academic staff.
  • Reports from the student and the Supervisor are to be available two weeks prior to the meeting of the Progression Review Panel. 

The student should be given the right to comment on any aspect of their Supervision in the absence of the Supervisors.

The panel should make one of the following recommendations:

  • Candidate be permitted to progress to PhD.
  • Further work is required by the candidate before progression is approved (to be approved by Chair's Action).
  • Further work is required by the candidate before progression is approved. A further review will take place at a future time.
  • Capability Procedure to be initiated (either Preliminary or Formal).

Exceptionally, procedures could be instigated which could lead to the termination of the student's registration.

Further points to note are:

  • One member of the panel is required to write a report on the review.
  • A copy of the completed form should be given to the student (this is circulated to the student by the Faculty).
  • Students must be informed of the decision of the Progression Review Panel.
  • Students required to take modules on the Diploma or Master of Research Methods will be expected to have achieved a pass mark on the assessed coursework for the programme.
  • A student who is not permitted to progress registration may appeal against the decision.

MPhil students may progress to PhD if the following conditions are satisfied: 

  • Having been registered for MPhil for 12 months (if full-time) or 24 months (if part-time) they submit for assessment a report with a summary appraisal of the results of their investigation to-date, together with proposals for further investigations to be made if they are to proceed to submit for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
  • The students' Supervisors and the Dean of Faculty having considered the report makes a recommendation for progression to Research Degrees Committee.
  • The Research Degrees Committee approves the recommendation.

Professional Doctorates - stage transfer

The requirements for the taught component of the Professional Doctorate (DBA and DPharm), including supplementary assessment, are set out in the Section 24 in the University's Regulations for Research Degrees (available on the Academic Quality Unit website.

Please also refer to the relevant Programme Specification for each Professional Doctorate particularly for the credit awarded to each module, found on the Academic Quality Unit website.

Writing for publication

Your Supervisors should discuss with you opportunities for you to disseminate your research and thus develop your communication skills.  The transmission of research outputs and the development of personal transferable skills should be promoted by means of a number of activities as set out below.

It is worth bearing in mind that academic journals typically have a long lead time from first submission of a paper to actually seeing it in print.  It is therefore worthwhile aiming to submit a paper while your research is still in progress although others will no doubt follow on after completion.

Research Seminars

As part of your agreed study programme, you should be required to present one or more research seminars.  In the latter stages when research outcomes are being presented, you should be encouraged to develop an ability to defend your work and respond to critical questioning

National and International Conferences

As your research progresses you should be encouraged to present your work at national or international conferences. Consideration should be given to funding options - by Faculty, Research Council or sponsoring organisation. Inevitably there is variation in different Faculties/Departments but in some cases the Faculty will fund attendance where a member of academic staff is a joint author.


It is recommended as good practice that during the course of the research early consideration be given by you and your Supervisors to publishing the outcomes of your research.

It should be made clear at the outset of producing a paper who is to be an author, what each author will contribute to the text, and what is to be the sequence of authors' names on the publication. In view of the respective contributions made by you and your Supervisor(s) it is to be expected that any such publication should normally be put forward on a joint basis. 

Practice regarding the sequence of authors will vary from one discipline to another, although it is essential that the student be given full credit for his/her contribution to the research by including their name in the list of authors. In this connection you may find it helpful to note that the criteria for the award of the degree of PhD includes the fact that the thesis should contain work which is worthy of publication in full or in part

Intellectual property rights of students

Use of prior work and published work in thesis

  • Students are permitted to incorporate in their thesis a limited amount of unpublished work undertaken prior to registration for their research degree
  • Students are permitted to incorporate their own published work in a thesis on condition that the fact is recorded in the thesis together with the title, place and date of publication
  • Students are not permitted to incorporate in a thesis material which has been included in a thesis submitted for a degree at this or any other University or approved degree awarding body except for the purpose of drawing attention, for reference purposes only, to such material, including calculations or the results of experimental work. Where such material is incorporated the fact must be recorded together with the title of the thesis, the date of the award of the degree and the name of the university or other degree-awarding body making the award.

A Statement of Principles Relating to the IPR of Student Research was approved by Senate in June 2009 and can be found below.

This includes a section about restricted access of theses in the library and university repository.

This should be read in conjunction with the University Regulation relating to IPR in work produced by students 

Intellectual property rights download

Intellectual property for pgr students Word (31KB)

Intellectual property for pgr students  PDF (93KB)

The Capability Procedure

If at any stage during the period of study your Principal Supervisor considers that your progress is unsatisfactory or that the standard of your work is generally below that expected, it is important that you be made aware of the situation as soon as possible.

It is expected that the Principal Supervisor, in consultation with the Director of Postgraduate Research, will initially follow the Preliminary Stage of the Capability Procedure before invoking the Formal Stage. 

It should be noted that at any meeting regarding unsatisfactory progress held between you and your Principal Supervisor and/or Director of Postgraduate Research, whether at the formal or preliminary stage, you have the right to be accompanied by a second person who can act as your "friend". 

In the event of the Capability Procedure being invoked, it is important that the student and all concerned understand the process and the requirements within it. Please refer to Sections 9 - 11 of the University's Regulations for Research Students.


In addition, there are also forms that should be completed for both the Preliminary and Formal Stages.

To download:

Preliminary capability (50KB)

Formal stage (52KB)


The Principal Supervisor may apply on behalf of the student to the Research Degrees Committee for suspension to the registration period.

Reasons for suspensions might include:

  • illness
  • personal difficulties of a serious nature
  • maternity leave
  • bereavement

Suspensions of studies must be applied for at the time the when the difficulties arise, not retrospectively or as an extension at the end of studies. No retrospective fee adjustments will be made if a student does not formally request suspension. 

To apply for a suspension to the registration of a Research Student, a request will need to be submitted to the using the suspension request form.  

The request must include the appropriate evidence and your Principal Supervisor and the Faculty's Director of PGR Students must sign to confirm their support.  

On full receipt of the required information and approval by Research Degrees Committee students will receive formal notification by letter from the Research team based in the Student Registry.

Please also note that you will be expected to return at the end of your suspension period. You will have your enrolment launched and fees activated. It is therefore critical that you maintain contact with your Faculty and confirm your intentions.   

The Suspension policy for Post Graduate Research Students can be found on the Academic Quality and Enhancement website in the A - Z section.

Further guidance

If you are in receipt of sponsorship or any other external funding it is important that you notify such agencies of you suspension of study. Please include their approval with your University's suspension request.

Moreover Research Council funded students must apply to the Research Council for permission to suspend their studies. It is essential that this is applied for at the time difficulties are experienced and not after the deadline for final thesis submission.

Student Registry Services (Research) are responsible for sending suspension requests to all Research Councils. Generally the support documents required for the suspension request are the same as listed above, although specific Research Council guidelines should be followed. Please email for advice.

If you are studying with us on a Tier 4 Visa we further advise you that contact the University's visa trained staff (in the Students' Union Advice Centre) to discuss the implication of suspending your studies with them directly before applying to suspend your studies. 


The Principal Supervisor may apply on behalf of the student to the Faculty Postgraduate Research Degrees Sub-Committee for an extension to the registration period.

Extension requests are expected show that some unforeseen circumstances have arisen which have adversely affected the students' progress, against which precautions were not possible. 

Please note, where applicable suspension of study should be applied for at that time difficulties arise with being able to attend studies.

Additional Faculty approval is required before the request is sent to the Committee  for:

  • the Faculty of Engineering and Informatics all extension requests must first be approved by the Director of PG Research (via PG team with Student Support in Horton D0)
  • the Faculty of Life Sciences all extension requests must be first approved by the Director of PG Research (via Shamim Haider, C34 Richmond Building)
  • the Faculty of Management and Law all extension requests (for the PhD programme) must first be approved by the PhD Director of Studies (via Jackie Franklin in Cartwright CB0.07)
  • the Faculty of Social Sciences all extension requests must be first approved by the Director of PG Research (via Michele Mozley, PGR Administrator)
  • the Faculty of Health Studies all extension requests must first be approved by the Director of PG Research (via Deborah Turner in 4.08, Horton A building)

An extension is treated as a serious matter and should not be regarded as a matter of course.

An application for an extension must be made before the expiry of the student's normal period of registration.  This is particularly important if the extension request is required to support a visa extension and Confirmation of Studies (CAS).  It is strongly advised that the request to extend is submitted at least three months in advance of expiry of registration.  For example if the final date of registration is 30 September, the extension request should be undertaken before the summer break. 

The request needs to include the following information:

  • a statement by the student giving the reasons why the extension is required and the proposed new expected date for submission
  • a thesis planner (link at the bottom of this page) indicating the timetable of research for the requested extended submission date 
  • a statement in support of the request for the extension to the submission date by the Principal Supervisor

Any request to extend must contain all the above elements (statement by student, statement by supervisor and thesis planner) and the approval process will inevitably be delayed if full information is not provided.  It is also important that the "end date", that is the final expected thesis submission date, is clear and consistent across all of extension request documents.  Lastly it is essential that the planner is realistic and allows the Supervisor time to provide meaningful feedback on the thesis.

The request should either be sent in hard copy to the Hub (a copy should be retained by the student) or submitted electronically to

On full receipt of the required information and approval by the Faculty Postgraduate  Research Degrees Sub-Committee students will receive formal notification by letter from SRS Research team based in the PGR Lounge, Carlton Building. If a new student card is required please pop to the Hub so a new one can be printed.

Further guidance

As above, if you are an international student who requires an extension of studies to support an extension of visa, it is essential that you begin the process well in advance of either your end date passing and/or visa expiring.  Advice and guidance in extending your visa is given here: 

UBU's Advice Centre and

You can use your approved extension documents to support your visa application but please note applying for visa extension is a separate approval process (and this is overseen by the Points Based System team).

If you are in receipt of sponsorship or any other external funding it is important that you notify such agencies of your extension of study.  Please include their approval with your university's extension request. 

Moreover Research Council funded students who require extension of studies have to apply to the relevant Research Council for permission.  It is essential that that this is applied for at the time difficulties are experienced and not after the deadline for final thesis submission. 

Student Registry Services (Research) are responsible for sending extension requests to all Research Councils.  Generally the support documents required for the extension request are the same as listed above, although specific Research Council guidelines should be followed.

Please email for advice.

Thesis Planner

Writing up stage - completion of thesis and examination

Writing-up status refers to a period of time at the end of a student's research studies when they have completed any experimentation and/or data collection.

All research students should aim to submit their thesis when their minimum period of registration expires. Therefore the writing-up period should be viewed as a period to finalise the thesis for submission, undertake a viva and graduate. 

More information about minimum and maximum periods of registration.

Full-time students

  • Full-time doctoral students normally transfer to writing-up status after their minimum period of registration (three years), if they do not submit their thesis. 
  • The writing-up period for Full-time doctoral students is usually one year only.
  • The transfer is done via a form (Transfer to Writing UP) which can be found in our Quick Links section under Forms.  Once approved the form is sent to the Research Support Team (SRS) to change the mode of attendance code, unless, exceptionally, the Faculty/Department concerned indicates that a particular student is not ready for transfer to writing-up status. 

Part-time students

  • Part-time doctoral students may apply for transfer to writing-up status after their minimum period of registration (four years), if they do not submit their thesis.  
  • This transfer will only be approved if their Faculty/Department are able to confirm that they have completed the experimentation/data collection phase, are "writing-up" and will actually submit their thesis during this final stage of studies. 
  • It is common for part-time students to transfer only in year five or six of their programme. 
  • The writing-up period for Part-time doctoral students therefore varies, but is up to a maximum of three years. 

Please note: all students should submit in advance of their writing-up period ending, as full use of University Library, email and access to internet and networking facilities will be given during this time.  The Faculty/Department must inform the student of their policies with regard to Faculty/Department-based facilities.