Formal assessments are in place at Years 1 and 2 (in line with PGR regulations), and are mandatory for all postgraduate research students.  Where the PhD programme duration is more than three years (mainly in the School of Biological Sciences and the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition), a formal assessment will be carried out at the end of three years (36 months) of supervised study.

For students who are off-campus on fieldwork, or otherwise temporarily unavailable, the examination may be arranged for a date as close as possible to nine months (either before or afterwards), and in all cases well before the entry date into second year.  If this option is required, all parties (student, supervisor, assessor, adviser) should make the necessary arrangements and keep the Postgraduate Research School Adviser (Monitoring & Progression) and relevant School Postgraduate Research Co-ordinator informed.

The first progression milestone for research students is the formal review at around nine months after first registration (for the majority of students starting in September/October, this assessment will take place in June of the following year).  This assessment will take the most appropriate form for the student's particular discipline.  However, the major objectives of the nine-month/first year assessment are to clearly assess the ability of the student; the suitability of the project (scope, contribution and scale); and, the 'fit' of the supervisory team.  In addition, all students should:

  • have a thorough background knowledge of their project;
  • be able to appraise key issues critically;
  • be able to describe work already underway and illustrate its significance; and
  • have a plan of future work with appropriate milestones.

The first year assessment (also known as the 'nine-month assessment') is one of the agreed progression criteria for maintaining standards in the Postgraduate Research School and beyond.  It is essential for all first year students to undertake this assessment before they progress into the second year of their degree programme.

Panel 'interviews' will take place in order to assess progression into Year 2 of the research degree programme.  Each panel will consist of a minimum of two members and at least one should have had no academic input to the student's project, and therefore independent of supervisors and student.

The outcomes of the formal assessment are as follows:

  • Satisfactory - progress to Year 2 of the degree programme;
  • Satisfactory, with reservations - student can progress to Year 2 of the degree programme but further action is required to address weaknesses;
  • Additional work required for further review (within two months) before confirming progress to Year 2 of the degree programme;
  • Unsatisfactory - recommend registration for a lower degree (eg MPhil or MSc by Research);
  • Unsatisfactory - recommend termination of studies; or
  • Amend the supervisory team to provide additional technical and/or academic expertise.