Extensions to Study

Extensions to Study

You should discuss any changes to your studies with your supervisor/supervisory team in the first instance. You will need the support of your supervisor and approval of a PGR School Officer to make a change to your studies. 

You may find yourself in a situation of needing longer than your supervised study to complete your research. This is called an ‘extension’. You will need to complete an application form to extend your studies.

Is there a maximum time limit for an extension?
It is expected that you will normally submit your thesis by the end of your registered supervised study. This is the period for which you’re charged fees. 

An additional 12 month extension period is permitted for students who commenced study prior to 1 August 2010 providing it does not run contrary to the requirements of your funding body. 
For students who commenced study after 1 August 2010, an application to extend the period of study must be made. Please ensure to read the information on Council Tax below.

Extensions can be granted up to a maximum of 12 months in the first instance. 

The combined period of supervised study and extension will not normally exceed the following:

PhD, DPT    48 months (for previously full-time students) or 84 months (for previously part-time students) 
EngD    60 months (for previously full-time students) or 96 months (for previously part-time students)

MPhil, MD or ChM    36 months (for previously full-time students) or 60 months (for previously part-time students) 
Other Master’s    24 months (for previously full-time students) or 36 months (for previously part-time students)

This means that if you were admitted with a supervised period of 42 months (such as those funded by NERC), you would normally only be granted an extension of six months in the first instance.

Students submitting an extension within the above timeframes, following the completion of their supervised study, must be able to demonstrate evidence of progress in their research and make clear the feasibility of submitting their thesis within the period of extension being sought. A thesis plan must be submitted giving target dates for completion of each chapter. 

When should I apply for an extension?
If you are approaching the end of the end of your supervised study and require longer, you must complete an extension application form three months prior to the termination of the period of supervised study. 

What if I’m a sponsored student?
Research Councils expect doctoral students to have completed within the timeframe agreed at the outset of your studies.

If you receive funding from one of the Research Councils, please contact pgrs-studentships@abdn.ac.uk for guidance on your extension application. For avoidance of doubt, you should get in touch with the Engagement Team if you are funded by any of the following:

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC)
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Medical Research Council (MRC)
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

If you receive funding from any source other than the above, it is your responsibility to keep any sponsor informed of the reasons for requesting an extension of studies. This means that you need approval from both the University and your sponsor. Along with your extension request, you should include confirmation that approval has been sought from your funding body, where applicable.

What if I’m on a Tier 4 visa?
International students studying at the University on a visa should refer to the terms of their visa when requesting an extension. If you’re not sure about this, we would recommend that you get in touch with the International Student Advisers (student.international@abdn.ac.uk) to discuss what impact an extension will have on your visa.

Are there fee implications to an extension?
Yes. If you have completed your period of supervised study but not submitted your thesis for examination, you are required to pay a continuation fee to continue their candidature for the degree in each academic year. These students must submit an application to extend their candidature.   Please ensure to read the information on Council Tax below.

What if I’ve already had an extension?
Extensions beyond the normal extension limits will only be granted in exceptional circumstances, namely, where your work has been hampered by medical or personal or unexpected academic circumstances or exceptional circumstances arising from employment for which supporting documentary evidence can be made available. If you submit an application for an “exceptional extension”, you must demonstrate clear evidence of progress and must submit a thesis plan giving target dates for completion of each chapter.

In no case will any extension be approved beyond the following maximum periods of study, which include the supervised period of study:

PhD, EdD, DPT     60 months (for previously full-time students) or 96 months (for previously part-time students) 
EngD     60 months (for previously full-time students) or 96 months (for previously part-time students) 
MD or ChM     48 months (for previously full-time students) or 72 months (for previously part-time students) 
Other Master’s     36 months (for previously full-time students) or 48 months (for previously part-time students)

Applying for an extension to supervised study
The guidance above relates to students looking to extend following completion of supervised study. You may be seeking an extension to a period of supervised study. This is only for students who are granted additional funding and therefore eligible to request an extension to their period of registration. Full tuition fees are payable during extended periods of supervised study and it is your responsibility to ensure that financial support is available to meet the cost of fees and maintenance. You should contact Registry at postgraduate@abdn.ac.uk to provide a copy of your funding letter confirming that you have been awarded additional funding. Supervised study will only be extended if funding has been given to cover the cost of tuition fees.

Examples of good cause for suspensions and extensions
The following circumstances are typical of what may be considered grounds for applying for an exceptional extension or a suspension of studies. The circumstances will either prevent a student from working altogether or severely affect their ability to work effectively.

a.    Serious physical or mental illness of the student
b.    Death/serious illness of a partner, close family member or close friend
c.    Unforeseeable or unpreventable events such as distress or injury caused by a serious accident; the affects of being a victim of a criminal act or the distress or serious disruption caused by fire, flood or other natural catastrophe
d.    Serious personal problems such as relationship problems, family crises
e.    Unexpected changes to the student’s source of funding (NB: students must ensure that they have the necessary funds before embarking on their degree)
f.    Breakdown of essential equipment where a student is unable to continue research and the use of alternative equipment is not possible
g.    Delays in obtaining ethical approval where approval has been sought in good time
h.    Jury service; military service
i.    Maternity or adoption leave
j.    Delays in progress due to unforeseen problems with the degree programme and/or working environment (eg moving of offices/buildings, supervisor(s) changes and unavailability etc) which are outside of the student’s control (NB: the problem must be reported to the appropriate School at the time it occurs)
k.    Study leave necessary for the degree programme (other than official leave of absence for study at an approved institution or fieldwork)
l.    Internship/work placement necessary for the degree programme

The following circumstances will not be regarded as grounds for applying for any extension or a suspension of studies:

m.    The student or supervisor was unaware of policy and application procedures for interruptions and/or extensions for postgraduate degrees. It is ultimately the student’s responsibility to ensure that they are aware of all policies and procedures relevant to their degree
n.    Further primary research and/or laboratory work
o.    Long-term holidays/vacations
p.    Inadequate planning and time management
q.    Normal pregnancy (excluding statutory maternity leave entitlement)
r.    Difficulties with English language (including delays as a result of proofreading)
s.    Computer or other equipment failure or theft where use of an alternative is possible or any loss of work was avoidable, except where the work is lost through the failure of University of Aberdeen systems as confirmed by School or University of  Aberdeen IT department
t.    Change in employment conditions: requests from part-time students who are working while studying may exceptionally be considered where a change in employment conditions was unforeseen. This will not normally be an acceptable reason for students in the submission pending or resubmission periods

In addition to the above, the following circumstance will not be regarded as grounds for applying for an extension:

u.    Circumstances encountered during supervised study, which should have been dealt with at the time

The final decision on whether a suspension or an extension is granted or not is at the discretion of the PGR School Officer on behalf of the Senate.

Council Tax

If your supervised study period has ended an/or are in a period of extension, you would normally be required to pay Council Tax. However, from September 2005, Aberdeen City Council has agreed to regard postgraduate research students who have previously been full-time whilst under supervised study as continuing to be full-time in the 12 month period following conclusion of their registration for supervised study.  Please note, extensions less than 24 weeks are not eligible for exemption from Council Tax. Find out more about Council Tax requirements in this section