PGR Handbook

PGR Handbook

This handbook provides guidance and practical advice for those undertaking a degree by research. Research programmes entail a lot of diversity depending on discipline and so the handbook outlines good practice and key information. Please make sure that you read your School and/or discipline handbook alongside this. You should also familiarise yourself with the University’s regulations for postgraduate studies. 

In developing this handbook we have been guided by the Quality Assurance Agency’s UK Quality Code for Higher Education. The Quality Code provides a key reference point for all UK Higher Education to set and maintain standards of awards and manage quality of provision. The Quality Code has also informed our Code of Practice: Postgraduate Research Students.

What is a Research Programme?

Research programmes are broadly split into PhDs and Master’s degrees (by research). Both involve an emphasis on independent research undertaken by the candidate over the duration of their studies. 

The QAA defines doctoral degrees as qualifications rooted in original research. This is characterised as the creation of new knowledge or originality in the application of knowledge.

Your research degree is examined by submission of a thesis and oral examination (usually referred to as the viva). 

What postgraduate awards are available?
The following degrees are available by research:

  • PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
  • EngD (Doctor of Engineering)
  • MD (Doctor of Medicine)
  • LLM (Master of Laws)
  • MLitt (Master of Letters)
  • MSc (Master of Science)
  • MTh (Master of Theology)
  • MRes (Master of Research)

How is my degree funded?

There are three main types of student in terms of funding. How you are funded will make a difference to some processes, such as applying to make a change to the terms of your study.

Self: this means that you are responsible for paying your fees and maintenance yourself and don’t receive any external form of support. Should you need to complete a change of circumstances application (eg to extend or suspend your studies for a time) then you will not need to inform any external body. You should write ‘n/a’ in any information boxes relating to funding/sponsorship. 

Sponsored: this means that you receive some form of external support administered directly to you. For example, money from a government sponsor. You will be paid by them directly and the University will invoice you or your sponsor for fees. Your School will often be a good first point of contact if you have any queries relating to this. Should you need to complete a change of circumstances application (eg to extend or suspend your studies for a time) then you will need to contact your sponsor directly to inform them about this; the PGR School will not do this for you.

Funded/Studentship: this means that you receive funding from an external source that is paid directly to the University. For example, financial support from one of the Research Councils (AHRC, NERC etc). This may be in the form of fee payment or fee payment and a stipend award. The University administers these monies. Should you need to complete a change of circumstances application (eg to extend or suspend your studies for a time) then the Studentships team will liaise with your funder on your behalf. You do not need to contact them directly.


When you commence your studies, you will need to complete online registration, which includes making arrangements to pay tuition fees. You will need to do this in each academic year during which you undertake supervised study. 

Details for online registration (also known as eReg) can be found on the University website. For new students, our new student guide will direct you through the process for initial registration. 

Please make sure that you remember to complete online registration each year!

Tuition fees
Information on tuition fees for PGR students can be found on the Tuition Fees webpages.


The PGR School holds regular induction events to welcome you as you start your research. Please check the induction and orientation webpage for full details. 

The Student-Supervisor Relationship

The information in these handbook sections provides you with core details of the supervisor/student relationship. If you want to know more detailed information, we’d encourage you to have a look at the supervisor section of the handbook.

What is supervised study?

Supervised study describes the time during which you pay tuition fees.

Who can be a supervisor?

Supervisors are normally professors, readers or lecturers of the University, or may be honorary members of staff, or members of staff of an approved research institution. You can find out more information about research institutions in General Regulation 19.

What is a supervisory team?

A supervisory team comprises more than one supervisor, working in co-supervision, always with one supervisor designated as lead. At least one member of the supervisory must be a professor, reader or lecturer of the University.

The benefit of having a supervisory team is that you should always have an identified point of contact who you can approach. A student may also have an academic member of staff who has been appointed and identified by the School to provide additional pastoral support. The term of reference for this person will vary between Schools, they may be termed a PGR Coordinator, a mentor or an adviser, for example.

Are there any expectations of my supervisor?

Yes, you can find a summary of these in the Statement of Expectations for PGR Students and Supervisors.

Supervisors are expected to assist research students throughout their period of supervised research and for up to twelve months thereafter, if an extension period is required and has been approved, or to completion if sooner. They are not normally obliged to act as supervisors after this period except when a thesis has been examined and referred, in which case the supervisor is obliged to provide advice until the specified date for resubmission.

Are there any expectations of me?

Yes, you can find a summary of these in the Statement of Expectations for PGR Students and Supervisors. One of the key things to keep in mind is that you are undertaking a specific project for a defined period and need to plan your time/resources accordingly. You will greatly benefit from the advice and direction of good supervisors but you are ultimately responsible for your own research and thesis. 

Remember that you should be meeting with your supervisor on a regular basis. There is an expectation that there will be at least one formal meeting per month, with informal meetings held more frequently in agreement with you and your supervisor as required. It is your responsibility to take brief written notes of formal meetings and both you and your supervisor should agree that these are an accurate record of the meeting. 

You must also complete any required training and development, ethical approval requirements and engage with the review and progression process.

What if I’m having difficulty with my supervisor/supervisory team?

We’d always encourage you to speak with your supervisor/supervisory team directly in the first instance. You can also speak with your PGR School coordinator. You’re always welcome to contact Lorna and Nic at to discuss any concerns you may have. You can also contact our Student Support & Advice team at any time. The important thing is that you speak to someone; don’t feel that you have to cope with a challenging situation on your own.

What do I do if my supervisor leaves the University?

The University will endeavour to make you aware in advance if your supervisor is due to leave the University. Should you become aware of such a situation and have not been contacted in advance by your School or PGR School, please get in touch with as soon as possible.

Supporting Your Research

Your health and wellbeing are important to us and we want to make sure you feel supported as you undertake your research. Please see our dedicated support pages for more information on courses and resources.

You can also contact our Student Advice & Support team. If you need to speak to someone when the Student Advice and Support Office is closed, you can:

  • contact your GP and ask for an emergency appointment
  • contact NHS out of hours service on 111 - NHS out-of-hours
  • call 999 in an emergency
Training and Development

Please see the Training and Development pages for more detailed information relating to this topic.

At every stage of your research career there is an increasing emphasis on the development not only of research skills but also high-level core transferable skills.

The PGR School offers an extensive programme of optional courses, workshops and opportunities specifically designed for research students, under the banner of the Researcher Development Programme.  The courses are available free of charge to enhance your development and to help you capitalise on discipline specific training available within your School.

The programme also offers you an excellent opportunity to meet researchers from other disciplines and learn together in a supportive environment.

Although the Researcher Development Programme courses are optional, there is mandatory training which you must complete during your first year of study: Research Governance and Ethics, Equality and Diversity, IT Security and Research Data Management (must be completed within two months), Health and Safety.

Research Integrity

The University of Aberdeen is committed to ensuring the highest standards of integrity in all aspect of its research activities and expects that all those involved with research at the University maintain a similar commitment. As a researcher you are expected to read and adhere to the Research Governance Handbook, which sets out the standards and regulatory processes expected of those involved in research at the University.

The Concordat to Support Research Integrity  sets out a framework for good research conduct and its governance in the UK; it is relevant to all research disciplines and places an emphasis on the responsibilities and accountabilities of all research stakeholders.

There are four core principles of the Concordat which should be considered in all aspects of research.
These are (taken in entirety from the Concordat):

Honesty in all aspects of research, including in the presentation of research goals, intentions and findings; in reporting on research methods and procedures; in gathering data; in using and acknowledging the work of other researchers; and in conveying valid interpretations and making justifiable claims based on research findings. 

Rigour, in line with prevailing disciplinary norms and standards: in performing research and using appropriate methods; in adhering to an agreed protocol where appropriate; in drawing interpretations and conclusions from the research; and in communicating the results.

Transparency and open communication in declaring conflicts of interest; in the reporting of research data collection methods; in the analysis and interpretation of data; in making research findings widely available, which includes sharing negative results as appropriate; and in presenting the work to other researchers and to the general public.

Care and respect for all participants in and subjects of research, including humans, animals, the environment and cultural objects. Those engaged with research must also show care and respect for the stewardship of research and scholarship for future generations.

As a researcher it is important that in conducting your research, you are honest and open in respect to your own actions in research and in your responses to the actions of other researchers. This applies to the whole range of research work, including:

  • experimental design 
  • generating, storing and analysing data
  • applying for funding, 
  • publishing results and acknowledging the direct and indirect contributions of colleagues, collaborators and others
  • citation/referencing and the avoidance of plagiarism 
  • IP and copyright
  • equality and diversity 
  • public engagement
  • principles of Responsible Research and Innovation 
  • declaring conflicts of interest

It is your responsibility to be proactive in seeking advice and support as well as keeping up to date with the latest standards and changes in guidance and legislation relating to your discipline area/s throughout your research career. 
Your supervisor(s) and other teams across the University will be able to provide advice and support to help you to gain the knowledge and confidence you need for your particular project.


Research Governance and Ethics

All ethical and regulatory considerations must be taken into account before any research work commences. The University’s framework for research ethics and governance is outlined in the Handbook for Research Governance.

The Handbook is the central authority and reference point within the institution for matters relating to research governance and should be used and referred to accordingly by research staff and students.

For non-clinical research involving human participation, the University’s procedures for Ethical Review and Approval Process must be adhered to. For any research that involves NHS staff, data, patients, tissue, resources or facilities, you may need to apply to the local NHS Research and Development (R&D) department for access permission. You can find out more on the Ethics and Governance pages.

Research involving animals should have approval through the University’s Ethical Review and Approval Process and may require Home Office licences for the institution, the investigator and the project. Researchers should consider, at an early stage in the design of any research involving animals, the opportunities for reduction, replacement and refinement of animal involvement (the three Rs). Other ethical concerns, such as research that may damage the environment or the use of sensitive economic or social data, should also be considered at the outset.

You must ensure that all ethical approvals are in place before the research commences, retrospective approval is never granted.

As a researcher you are responsible for ensuring your research has the appropriate approvals and your supervisory team will assist you with this. Advice and Key Contacts are available on the  Research Governance pages.


Research Governance and Ethics training (online) is mandatory ad must be completed within your first six months

Changes to your Studies

If you wish to change any of the conditions listed in your admission letter (eg transferring to a different degree programme or changing your mode/length of study), you must discuss this with your supervisor/supervisory team. 

Any change will require a form which you and your supervisor will need to complete before this is reviewed by a PGR School Officer. If the section below refers to a form, please go to the above webpage to access this. Please try to complete these as far in advance of a change as possible as retrospective changes are not normally possible. Official permission is required for all these changes and you should leave adequate time for this. It can sometimes take a few weeks before you receive a final decision about your request.

Please note that, as many changes to the period of study (suspension, extension, move to part-time etc) affect the tuition fees charged, it is very important to keep the Registry informed. 

Reviewing your Progress

Please see the PGR Engagement pages for more detailed information relating to this topic.

In brief, you will complete a review of your research every six months. You should treat this like the reviews you would expect to undertake in employment whereby you set goals and objectives and reflect on your achievement of these. The PGR School will contact you about this. This is also an opportunity to make sure that things are working well for you and the supervisory team. 

You also complete an annual progress exercise. These will usually take place around month nine for full-time students and the equivalent for part-time. The timing of this can vary slightly by School so please make sure you discuss this with your supervisor and/or PGR School coordinator.

Your Thesis: Preparation and Submission

What are you looking for in a thesis?
Your thesis should form a coherent whole with a consistent argument/series of arguments running throughout it. The QAA notes that doctoral degrees are qualifications rooted in original research. This means that they create new knowledge or show originality in the application of knowledge.

The incorporation of material published by the candidate during the period of registration for the degree is permitted, but it must be accompanied by written commentary on publications submitted. Furthermore, the foot-/endnoting must make clear which sections of the thesis are based on published material and how much individual responsibility the candidate has for any jointly authored work. Such material must be properly and stylistically incorporated into the thesis.

Is there a word limit to my thesis?

The normal maximum length of a PhD, EngD, MD or ChM is 100,000 words and the normal maximum length of a Master’s degree thesis is 40,000 words.

Your word count includes appendices and footnotes but excludes bibliographies, statistical and computational compilations, analogous illustrative material (maps, facsimile documents, etc), and, where appropriate, other materials such as field notes and transcriptions of interviews.

Unless the specific permission of the appropriate PGR School Officer is obtained (on the grounds of the exceptional nature of the subject matter or, in the case of candidates registered for a degree in Law, on grounds of exceptional circumstances), you must adhere to the maximum word limit. If you and your supervisor aren’t sure about this, please get in touch with your PGR School Officer to discuss further. 

Is there a presentation format?

The library has provided a comprehensive guide to the submission of your thesis, including presentation.

What do I do with field notes or interviews?
Any data compilation, or material such as field notes or transcriptions of interviews should not be included in the bound thesis but should be stored separately on disk. This material must be anonymised, as appropriate, and then securely attached to the thesis prior to submission.

Can I include something I’ve published during my registration in the thesis?
Yes. If you do this, please be sure to include written commentary on the publication submitted. You should use foot-/endnotes to make it clear which sections of the thesis use published material. If you are a joint author, you will need to highlight how much individual responsibility you have had in the included material.

Remember that if you do include published material, it should fit into your overall thesis and by stylistically sympathetic to what you’ve written.

Thesis by/ with publications

A postgraduate researcher may request to submit a thesis formed from published work. This must meet the following criteria, which differs depending on whether the PGR is staff (Thesis by publication) or postgraduate researcher (thesis with publications): 


Thesis by Publication (Staff)

Guidance for this type of scenario can be found in General Regulation 4 for Research Degrees. The PGR in this case must: 


  1. Be a member of academic staff at the University of Aberdeen. 
  1. Have been employed at the UoA for a minimum of five years. 
  1. State at the point of admission that they intend to submit a thesis by publication. The admissions process will include the member of staff being able to provide a minimum of five publications at the point of entry and a 1500-word synopsis. Each School/discipline will determine the expectations for publications including appropriate quality of peer review. 
  1. The candidate should normally be the first named or lead author on any publication included or to have made a demonstrable major contribution. In cases of joint authorship, candidates must indicate the extent of their contribution (this may for example be evidenced through contributor statements within the manuscript or through confirmation by the corresponding author of the manuscript). 
  1. Register for a minimum of 12 months supervised study and pay the              appropriate tuition fee. 
  2. Must include written commentary on each publication included so that the thesis is a coherent whole and the thesis must include an overall general introduction and general discussion/conclusion section. Foot/endnoting must make clear which sections of the thesis are based on published material and how much individual responsibility the candidate has for any jointly authored work. Such material must be properly and stylistically incorporated into the thesis.  
  3. Understand that in all other aspects, they abide by the same regulations and processes in place for PhD candidates including examination. The final thesis will be examined in the same way as a traditional thesis and all aspects of the work, even if published, can be required to be amended if the examiners deem appropriate during viva voce. 


Thesis with publications (postgraduate researcher) 


The PGR in this case: 

  1. May not be a member of academic staff at the University of Aberdeen (exceptions may include for example Scottish Clinical Research Excellence Development Scheme (SCREDS)). 
  1. Will be registered for the usual 36, 42 or 48 full-time months supervised study or part-time equivalent. Will be, in cases where publications are included in the standard PhD, required to write the papers included in the thesis during the supervised study period. The papers must have been accepted for publication at the point of submission. Each School/discipline will determine the expectations for publication including appropriate quality of peer review.  

4.      Must include only research undertaken during the period of supervised study or while registered for a research degree.  

  1. Must be the first named or lead author on any publication included or to have made a demonstrable major contribution. In cases of joint authorship, candidates must indicate the extent of their contribution (this may for example be evidenced through contributor statements within the manuscript or through confirmation by the corresponding author of the manuscript).  
  1. Must include written commentary on each publication included so that the thesis is a coherent whole and the thesis must include an overall general introduction and general discussion/conclusion section. Foot/endnoting must make clear which sections of the thesis are based on published material and how much individual responsibility the candidate has for any jointly authored work. Such material must be properly and stylistically incorporated into the thesis.  
  1. Is not required to submit a thesis comprised entirely of publications. That is, a minimum of one publication may be included but there is no maximum number stipulated up to the maximum permitted word limit of 100,000 words. Any publications included in the final thesis must be formatted in line with the guidance set out for the submission of research thesis, thus meaning that the longform Word document (including references) be incorporated rather than a PDF print copy. References for each publication should be included within the chapter, any other references within the body of the thesis should be included in a separate references section as normal.  
  1. Must understand that in all other aspects, they abide by the same regulations and processes in place for PhD candidates.   


I’m nearly ready to submit my thesis – what do I do next?
Congratulations! You’re nearly there. 

You now need to inform Registry that you’re ready to submit your thesis. You do this by completing and returning the Intention to Submit form which can be found on the academic life website.

This must be done at least one month before your intended submission date. If you do not complete the form in time, there will be a delay in sending the thesis for examination whilst examiners are appointed.

Is there a guide for submitting my thesis?    

The library publishes a guidance note on the submission of research theses. This provides information on the submission process, formatting requirements for University of Aberdeen theses, and details of the oral examination process.

As of AY 2022/23, all theses will be submitted via Turnitin.

Sitting down to write your thesis is an intimidating prospect, but help is out there. As with much of your PhD, your best source of support will be your supervisor. He or she will want you to produce a high quality thesis on time. However, there are some other excellent sources of information:

  • The VITAE website provides some excellent guidance on the thesis writing process.
  • Writing and Presenting Your Thesis or Dissertation- A guide to crafting, implementing and defending a thesis or dissertation, by Joseph Levine, Michigan State University.
  • How to Write a PhD Thesis - Helpful tips on how to write a thesis, originally written for graduate students in physics by Joe Wolfe, University of New South Wales.

Proofreading is the final stage of producing a piece of written work. The University believes that proofreading should be carried out by the student themselves and strongly discourages the use of third party proofreaders or commercial proofreading services. If a student feels they need assistance with their writing they should first consult the University’s guidance on the use of proofreaders and the rules stated therein.

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. Find out more about Council Tax requirements in this section

The Viva

The information below provides you with core details of the viva process. If you want to know any more background information, please feel free to have a look at the guides that have been produced for supervisors.

What is the viva? 
The oral examination, or viva, is an integral part of the assessment for the degree. The primary function of the viva is to allow you to explain, expand, and justify your thesis in response to the examiners’ questions. The viva may be used to establish your general knowledge of the field of research, to establish the extent of any collaboration, to ascertain that you can work independently and lead the work of others, and to confirm that the work is indeed your own. 

Your viva will usually be scheduled within two months of the submission of your thesis. However, delays can happen. Should this be the case, the internal examiner or moderator will keep you informed.

Who should be at the viva?
You, the internal examiner and external examiner should be present. If you are a member of University staff, you will normally have two external examiners and an internal moderator to oversee proceedings. 

Your supervisor(s) should be available at the time of the oral examination but may attend only at the specific invitation of the examiners, and after consultation with you; the internal examiner (or moderator) is responsible for ensuring that the supervisor(s) will be available on the day.

Who can be an examiner?
There are two types of examiner, an internal and external examiner. You can find out some more about specific requirements of these roles in the section of the handbook.

How are examiners chosen?
Once you have submitted your Intention to Submit form, Registry will contact your Head of School to request nomination of an internal and external examiner. This is done by completion of a Nomination of Examiners form

Your Head of School and supervisor will discuss this process. If you have been in contact with the nominated external examiner during your career, this should be indicated on the form.

You may volunteer the names of possible examiners and should inform the main supervisor if any special problems are likely to arise if particular examiners are appointed. Any comments will be taken into account but candidates have no right to determine the Head of School’s eventual recommendation, and therefore have no right to veto any particular appointment.

If you are a member of academic staff at the University, at least two external examiners must be appointed, as well as an internal moderator. 

You can find out a bit more about examiners in General Regulations 31 and 32.

Where should the viva be held?
Oral examinations normally take place at the University of Aberdeen campus but may be held elsewhere by the mutual agreement of all the examiners and the candidate. If, because of visa restrictions, overseas candidates must return home promptly, they are asked to make proper allowance for this when submitting their thesis.

Holding a viva by video or teleconference is not the ideal situation, but if you are unable to return to Aberdeen for the viva it may be permissible, and this should be arranged with the internal examiner/moderator.

How long will my viva last?
A viva will normally last around one and a half hours. If the examination lasts longer than two hours appropriate breaks must be agreed and formally recorded. You can be given the option to decline a break if you wish to do so, and this will be recorded on the Examiners’ Joint Report form. 

At the end of the examination you should be told that the examiners will proceed to discuss their report and be advised when to return to hear the examiners’ recommendation. You and your supervisor(s), if present, should then be asked to withdraw.

What are the possible outcomes of my viva?
Please note that the decision made by the examiners at the oral examination is a recommendation and must be approved by a member of the Quality Assurance Committee on behalf of Senate. Registry will issue an outcome letter to you once approval has been given.

Further approval for award of the degree is not required at the minor correction stage. It is, of course, required in the case of major corrections.

The examiners may decide that:
a.    the thesis be sustained for the degree being examined
b.    the thesis be sustained for the degree being examined subject to minor corrections being made by the candidate and approved by one of the examiners, within three months. This recommendation should be made where minor corrections are either (a) factual, typographic, limited in extent and can be achieved immediately after the oral, or (b) where there is no doubt that the thesis is of a standard for the degree sought but corrections are needed which should require neither major re-working nor re-interpretation of the intellectual content of the thesis
c.    the thesis be not sustained in its present form but that the candidate be given the opportunity to re-submit in a revised form for the same degree within a stated period which should not exceed 12 months
d.    the thesis does not meet the standards for the degree being examined but does meet the standards for the award of a lower degree and the candidate be awarded the latter degree without further examination
e.    the candidate may re-submit the thesis in a revised form for a lower degree within a stated period which shall not exceed twelve months
f.    the thesis be not sustained
The one-year Master’s degree can also be awarded with Distinction on the unanimous recommendation of the examiners. 

Will I have access to my IT account?
As a registered research student you will be given Associate Student status for a maximum of six months following submission of your soft-bound thesis. This will allow you to have an ID card and access to the library. Once you have completed your degree your Associate Student status will remain for a maximum of three months or until you graduate, whichever occurs first. After this time your computer account will be closed and your ID card invalidated. Please ensure that you have any emails or files that you require to keep, which are saved on a University computer, saved elsewhere in advance of this.

I’m ready to apply for graduation – what do I do next?
Congratulations! You will have received a letter from Registry confirming that your thesis has been sustained and that you should now apply for graduation. 

It is your responsibility to complete an application to graduate form and to decide whether to graduate in absentia or wait until the next in-person graduation ceremony. The degree will not be awarded until such time as you formally graduate. That means that if you complete the requirements of your degree programme in October but decide not to graduate until the following June, the degree certificate will state the latter date.

In absentia graduations take place in November, February, May and June; in-person graduations take place in June and November. Application forms are available from the Student Hub, Infohub or by request from

If you owe the University money for any reason (fees, rent, library fines for unreturned books, etc), you will not be permitted to graduate or receive an award, so you should ensure all debts are cleared.

Further details on Graduations, including the schedule of Graduation Ceremonies, in absentia dates, procedures on the day of in-person Graduation Ceremonies, gown hire and Graduation photographs are available on the Graduation website.

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. Find out more about Council Tax requirements in this section



Regulations for Postgraduate Study

Regulations relating to postgraduate study can be found on the University Calendar. These Regulations are continually reviewed and may be revised due to changes in policies and procedures. Any changes that are made that apply to students during their period of registration at the University are clearly indicated on the above website.

International Students, Including Visas

General information
If you hold a (Tier 4) visa, you will be able to find useful information on the Immigration and Student Visas pages. The requirements of UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) mean that the University is obliged to carry out visa checks for student visa holders at least twice during an academic year. The first check will be done when you register at the start of the academic year, and the remaining checks will be done during the course of the academic year. 

The checks are only for students who have a Tier 4 visa. Tier 4 students will be emailed with dates and times of the checks that are performed during the academic year so you must ensure that you regularly check your University email account. Failure to report for these checks could mean that students are de-registered from their studies and reported to the UKVI. This could lead to their Tier 4 visa being curtailed or cancelled.

Students on a Tier 4 visa should note that they may be subject to a regulatory framework implemented by UKVI. Where these regulations are more stringent than those stipulated within the University’s own regulations, those of the UKVI will take priority.

International Student Advisers
You can obtain visa and immigration advice from our International Student Advisers, based within the Student Advice & Support team. They can be contacted via

Please note that if you hold a Tier 4 visa and are looking to make a change to your studies, you should discuss this with your supervisory team and ISA team. Under current legislation, some changes may not be possible for you (for example, studying part-time).

The University has students undertaking study at all levels from all over the world creating a diverse learning environment. We do understand, however, that it can be challenging to meet new people at times. The PGR School runs a number of social events for all of our PGRs so do please come along to these. Many Schools and/or disciplines also offer research forums for PGRs where you can share your work, exchange ideas and meet new friends.

Your School is responsible for organising signing-in arrangements for you if you hold a Tier 4 visa. This is when you physically sign-in with a staff member present to confirm your attendance. This will take place at least once per month but some Schools will require more frequent sign-ins, with which you must comply. Please make sure that you contact your School directly if you are unsure about any requirements.

Going off-campus
Please see our off-campus pages for general information about this process.

If you hold a Tier 4 visa, the University must be satisfied that the request to study off-campus complies with the law regarding attendance requirements before approval can be given. Monitoring will still take place while you are off-campus.

Part-time and Distance Students

We understand that undertaking research at a distance or part-time can present its own unique challenges, but we want you to know and feel that you are a valued part of our PGR community

We offer online courses and induction sessions to fit in with your schedule.

Something to keep in mind from the outset is that you should discuss clearly and openly with your supervisory team how and when you will meet (whether in person or virtually). We appreciate that it can be hard to schedule meetings and make sure that you have time to undertake your research alongside other commitments, so it’s important to start as you mean to go on.

Distance students
Research study may be undertaken either wholly within the University or in association with other research centres in the UK or overseas, provided that adequate supervision can be given.

If full-time research students wish to conduct their entire research elsewhere then this must be agreed with the supervisor at the point of admission, subject to any visa restrictions. 

You must be able to demonstrate that the facilities and infrastructure that are available to you off-campus are sufficient to enable your research to be completed at a distance. Please note, however, that your supervisor(s) may require you to spend additional periods of time in Aberdeen depending on the progress and nature of the research. 

You should also remember to complete online registration and you may request your ID card by post if you are going to be off-campus at the start of your studies. To request an ID card be posted out, you should email You will be emailed each August to remind you to re-register.


Who’s Who

This section provides descriptions of key roles and individuals that you will encounter during your research degree.

Systems and Communications


Students will receive a University email account when they register. The University will normally use email to communicate with you during term-time and messages will be sent to your University email account.


It is your responsibility to check email on a regular basis (at least weekly) and to keep your mailbox tidy to avoid going over quota. Failure to check email, or non-receipt of email because the mailbox is over quota or due to non- delivery of a message to a non-University account, cannot be used as grounds for an academic appeal.

Student hub

Your University Computer ID and password also gives you access to your Student Hub.


Through your Hub pages you can view and, where appropriate, update the information, including home and term-time addresses, held in their student record. The Hub site also provides you with a personalised gateway to the on-line learning resources associated with any academic courses on which you are enrolled. Data in the Student Hub is updated nightly from the live student record system.

You can also download applications to graduate from your Hub.


MyPGR is hosted on the University’s virtual learning environment. You will find information relating to research here, such as accessing the mandatory research ethics and governance training.

Social Media

Social media can be helpful networking tool but it is also prudent to take care with your posts. The Toolkit team has developed a series of short videos to help you think about best practice with social media.

Additional Policies and Information

Intellectual property rights

For more information on IPR, please read the University’s policy.

Appeals and complaints

The University aims to provide a welcoming and supportive environment for its postgraduate students. However, from time to time students will encounter academic problems and difficulties. In the first instance any problems/difficulties should be raised with your supervisor/supervisory team. If this is not appropriate, students should see their Head of Discipline/School. If problems continue, students may wish to contact the Dean of the PGR School. You can also contact the Engagement Team at

The first stage of either an appeal or complaint is for the student to raise their concern as soon as possible with the relevant member of staff within the related School or Service. The University anticipates that by ensuring that all matters are considered informally at an early stage, problems can and will be resolved quickly and effectively at a local level. Please see the  Policy on Appeals the Complaints Handling Procedure for details of the timeframes for raising concerns and subsequent steps if the matter cannot be resolved informally.

Plagiarism and code of practice on student discipline

Please be sure to read the University’s Code of Practice on Student Discipline for more information on this matter.

This Code outlines such issues as examination offences, including cheating in prescribed degree assessments. For the purposes of this Code, “cheating” includes plagiarism.

If the examiners of a research degree, having read the thesis and having heard the candidate’s oral defence, believe that the work reported in the thesis is not the candidate’s own work or that the thesis in whole or in part has not been composed by the candidate, they will inform the candidate that plagiarism is suspected and that no decision can be made. In this situation the internal and external examiner’s role is restricted to the presentation of evidence and they will be required to produce a detailed written report. The examiners’ report forms, the detailed report and copies of the thesis should be passed to the Head of School. The examiners should also send the Registry a copy of the report forms with a note that the Head of School is investigating the allegation with the student. The Head of School should then investigate the allegation under the Code of Practice on Student Discipline. This will include meeting with the student to discuss the allegation. If, after investigation, the Head of School believes that plagiarism may have taken place, they will send full details to the Registry for formal investigation by a Dean for Postgraduate Research or a Vice-Principal.

Your feedback
The University conducts an annual on-line questionnaire that you are asked to complete. It is designed to help the University enhance the quality of PGR degree provision by collecting feedback from current research students.

Information arising from the questionnaire will be considered by Senate and discussed with individual Schools. You can also feedback any issues that arise directly to the University through the Inform Now feedback framework or to your Student Representative within the Students’ Association. 

The PGR School may also ask you to respond to questionnaires from time to time. Please do take part in these when requested as it’s an important way you can contribute to building your PGR community.

Council Tax

This is a local tax payable to the City of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Councils. The tax depends on the value of the property in which you live. Most full-time students do not pay Council Tax, because they live in accommodation occupied entirely by students, or because they live with their parents, who pay the Council Tax on the family home. However, if you are a part-time student or if you share accommodation with other adults who are not students, you could have to pay some or all of your property's Council Tax.

The University routinely provides Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils with confirmation of its full-time students' status. If you have registered, and need confirmation that you are a full-time student so that you can claim exemption from Council Tax, please ask for assistance at the Infohub.

Part-time students and students in an extension period are not usually entitled to exemption and will be liable 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. Provided that the University can certify that they are undertaking study of at least 21 hours per week for a period of 24 weeks or more, these students will then be exempt from paying Council Tax for that period. Aberdeenshire Council, so far, does not offer this concession.

If a student submits before the completion of the 12 months following the conclusion of their registration for supervised study, certification can only be given up until the date of submission. After that date students are regarded as being under examination and not engaged in writing up; thus the University cannot certify that they are engaged in study of at least 21 hours per week.

This applies only to students who were full-time throughout their supervised period of study, and who have paid fees at the standard full-time rate throughout their period of study. Students in this category must complete with their supervisor an application form for Council Tax Exemption.

Privacy notice

A statement outlining how the University uses your data can be found on the privacy information pages.

Statement of expectations for PGR students and supervisors

This document outlines key aspects of how your research should be conducted and the relationship/roles you and supervisor have in undertaking this.

Student partnership agreement

Information outlining the University and AUSA’s position on enhancing the Aberdeen experience can be found on the Infohub website.

Flowchart for thesis submission and examination