Postgraduate research assessments

See information about the process for your PhD annual progression reviews and your examination.

Steps during a research degree

If you’re studying towards a PhD, the key points are:

  • annual progression reviews
  • submitting your thesis
  • the examination process.

Progression reviews

In each year of your course, you will need to achieve satisfactory progress in your research.

You can raise any concerns you have at any time during your PhD. Progression reviews, however, also let you confidentially raise any problems you’re having or areas where you would like more support from your department or School.

Progression reviews normally happen in the spring or summer but they can take place at any point in the year. You can request an interim progression review and sometimes we convene one ourselves.

For your progression review, your School will define the work you need to produce. This will vary by discipline, and by the year in which you’re studying.

It could typically include:

  • draft thesis chapters
  • a review of literature
  • an advanced plan of research
  • presentation of data and findings
  • a draft paper for publication.

As well as this, you’ll be asked to complete a report outlining your progress. This is confidential and for your progression review members only.

Your review normally includes your main supervisor and at least one other academic. If your secondary supervisor is there, separate arrangements will be made for you to raise issues confidentially.

You may be asked to talk about your research and answer questions on your thesis – a ‘mini viva’.

After your progression review, University staff will confirm that:

  • all reports have been completed by you and the supervisor
  • the progression review has happened
  • a decision has been made about your registration for the following academic year.

Next steps

If your review was satisfactory, you’ll continue with your PhD.

If not, your School may consider:

  • offering you a period of provisional registration, with conditions you have to meet (such as complete a chapter) to progress and be fully registered – you’d normally have to do this before the following academic year starts
  • downgrading your registration from PhD to MPhil
  • refusing you permission to register in the following academic year.

If you have been refused permission to re-register, and do not agree with the decision, you can appeal against a progression review decision.

See more about your progress throughout a research degree.

Submitting your thesis

You need to give us at least two months’ notice of your intention to submit your thesis.

Before you hand it in, you’ll need to:

  • Complete the intention to submit form
  • Write a summary of your thesis
  • prepare your thesis or portfolio for examination, noting presentation and layout
  • be fully aware of plagiarism, collusion and other forms of misconduct
  • start preparing for your viva.

See more about submitting your thesis.

The examination process

Your examination, called a “viva”, is the point of your degree where you discuss your research with examiners and, if successful, gain your PhD.

See more about the examination process to understand:

  • an overview of the process
  • the basis of assessment
  • the outcomes of a viva
  • submitting the final version of your thesis
  • access rights of your thesis
  • what happens before you graduate.

More

For full details on the policies around PhD study, see the handbook and regulations for doctoral researchers.