Code of practice: research degrees
2015/6

1 Introduction
2 Institutional arrangements
3 The research environment
4 Roles and responsibilities
5 Selection and admission
6 Enrolment and induction
7 Supervision
8 Progress and progress monitoring arrangements
9 Research students as teachers
10 Forms of leave
11 Thesis
12 Examination
13 Submission of the final thesis
14 Appeals and complaints
15 Continuous Improvement

1 Introduction

1.1 Scope and purpose
This code of practice: research degrees aims to:

  • ensure that research students at the University of Stirling are supervised effectively so that they reach their full academic research potential and that they complete their research within an appropriate time period;
  • ensure that research students and staff share a common understanding of their respective roles and responsibilities;
  • promote policies and procedures that protect the academic standards of the University’s research degrees.

This code lays out expectations and procedures in relation to the admission, training, supervision, support and progress of research postgraduate students and forms part of the University governance and regulatory framework.  As such this code should be read in conjunction with the wider regulations (research degrees regulations) and code of practices including attendance and engagement.  

The code and Regulations are consistent with Quality Assurance Agency requirements as laid out in the UK Quality Code for HE, Chapter B11: Research Degrees (2012) and are revised regularly to reflect changes in institutional policy and national guidelines and in order to continuously improve the research degree experience. 

1.2 Key responsibilities
Responsibility for drafting and reviewing policies and procedures for research degrees as set out in this Code lies with the Stirling Graduate School (SGS), in consultation with Academic Registry and Governance Services and the Education and Student Experience Committee (ESEC).  Implementation of these policies and procedures is the responsibility of faculties and is monitored by the SGS.

Specified responsibilities of key participants in the research student life cycle are outlined throughout the code:

  • Faculties;
  • Research postgraduate tutors and directors of research students;
  • Stirling Graduate School;
  • Academic Registry and Governance Services
  • Research students;
  • Supervisory teams;
  • Examining committee, including the independent chair.

1.3 Research awards of the University
The University offers the following research degrees: 

Master of Philosophy
Doctor of Applied Social Research
Doctor of Business Administration
Doctor of Education
Doctor of Midwifery
Doctor of Nursing
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Professional Health Studies
Doctor of Diplomacy

Professional doctorate awards are managed and governed as ‘research awards’ only once the student has completed their taught element and commenced the research element.

2 Institutional arrangements

2.1 Governance framework

The Dean of Graduate Studies (Head of Stirling Graduate School) works with directors of research students (or equivalents) in faculties and the Deputy Principal for Education and Students (through ESEC) to monitor the quality and standards of research degrees at Stirling.  ESEC receives reports on research student issues/cases from the Academic Panel.  Stirling Graduate School leads institutional enhancements for research postgraduate students.

The Academic Panel, as a sub-committee of ESEC, is the principal decision making body in matters regarding progression and award for research postgraduate students at Stirling.  

Institutional oversight of quality and standards is held by ESEC which considers annual reports on the following: 

  • number of new students starting;
  • external examiner reports;
  • length of time between submission and viva;
  • completion statistics;
  • exit survey data;
  • ESEC panel data on leaves of absence and appeals;
  • level of turnover in supervisory arrangements;
  • the numbers and distribution of students employed by the University.

2.2 Academic standards
The University has a number of mechanisms for assuring the academic standards of its research awards.  Admissions – care is taken to admit students who meet appropriate entrance criteria for research degrees;

  • Supervision – appropriate supervisory teams are appointed and guidance, training and support for staff and students is provided;
  • Engagement – students and supervisory teams are required to formally record and agree the content of their supervisory meetings at least once every three months.  Good practice would involve more frequent meetings/interaction and full recording of discussions and outcomes;
  • Progress monitoring – for assurance of satisfactory academic progress, supervisory teams and students are required to engage in the annual progress review process;
  • Examining – approved examining committees will have the appropriate seniority, knowledge and experience to carry out the assessment effectively;
  • Enhancement – periodic reviews of discipline areas consider research student activity, progress and outcomes.  Faculties are required to contribute to the annual submission of data to ESEC;
  • Sector benchmarking – there is a programme of institutional benchmarking on research policy, practice and performance.

2.3 Enhancing the quality of research degree programmes
The examining committee is responsible for maintaining academic standards of the research degrees awarded at Stirling.  External examiner reports are considered by Academic Registry and Governance Services where comments on process and operation of the research degree examinations are used to inform enhancement activities.

The University regularly gathers formal and informal feedback from postgraduate research students about their experience at Stirling, and uses the results to inform the development of its provision.  By considering reports on student outcomes and results from surveys, both national (PRES) and internal (alternate years PRES question set, exit survey, feedback questionnaires for training courses and events).

Student sabbatical officers and staff employed by the University of Stirling Students’ Union who support postgraduate students meet informally with the Head of Stirling Graduate School on a regular basis, are full members of the student experience working group and are invited to attend relevant meetings to provide postgraduate student feedback on specific issues.

2.4 Regulations for research degrees
The University's regulations for research degrees cover:

  • the periods and modes of study;
  • residence and attendance requirements;
  • progression requirements;
  • the nature of the assessment and broad requirements for achieving each award;
  • the examining committee and potential outcomes.

2.5 Monitoring of research degrees against indicators and targets
The University uses the following indicators for monitoring research degree programmes:

  • Submission and success rates for postgraduate research degrees against appropriate timescales and national requirements;
  • Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES);
  • Engagement with Research Compass, the progress monitoring system.

The Head of Stirling Graduate School works with faculties where opportunities for enhancement are identified.

2.6 Research Compass
Research Compass is the web-based system developed by the University to enable transparency of progress and process amongst students, supervisors and administrative functions.  The system provides the mechanism to record supervisory meetings and associated actions, the annual review mechanism, portfolio development and a record of skills development.  Staff and students are required to use Research Compass for standard monitoring and progress reporting and to aid in project planning which ensures clarity of aims and objectives between the two parties.  

In addition, Research Compass allows institutional oversight of achievement of milestones amongst the research student population and enables the identification of good practice for sharing and any particular areas for concern.

2.7 Faculties
As academic research is conducted within faculties, most support for postgraduate researchers will be based there and the primary source of academic support will be the supervisory team.

All research students will have a lead supervisor and thus a ‘home’ faculty where administrative responsibility will lie.  Supervisory teams, however, can be cross-faculty and/or include external supervisory expertise, whether academic or from ‘industry’.

2.8 Stirling Graduate School
All research students belong to a faculty which focuses on discipline specific research and professional practice.  Research students are also automatically members of the Stirling Graduate School which:

  • focuses on professional and personal development; 
  • provides an academic and interdisciplinary focus for research students;
  • promotes good practice across the University in order to ensure both quality and consistency in approach and experience;
  • seeks to improve the postgraduate student experience.

3 The research environment

The University is a research lead institution committed to generating new knowledge and ideas, sustaining our intellectual energy and making a significant contribution to the knowledge-based economy nationally and globally.  Research students, central to strategic institutional ambitions, are encouraged to work with academic, commercial, public, private and voluntary sector partners.  Research students are an integral part of our community of researchers and they are encouraged to participate fully in these terms.

Stirling, as an active member of a number of Research Council Doctoral Training Partnerships/Centres (DTPs/DTCs), is an institution recognised for delivering excellence in research and research training.

4 Roles and responsibilities

4.1 Research students 
Research students should be aware of their roles and responsibilities which are to:

  • enrol with the University before beginning their studies and at the start of each academic session, and pay the relevant fees;
  • ensure that they understand the roles and responsibilities of their supervisory team and the support structures operating in their faculty and across the University (eg SGS and Academic Registry and Governance Services as well as those within faculties);
  • adhere to all the University’s regulations, policies, procedures and guidelines (as set out in this Code and other Codes), including those relating to Ethics and Health and Safety and the policy relating to academic misconduct;
  • accept ultimate responsibility for their own research activity and academic integrity;
  • maintain regular contact with their supervisory team, particularly when away from the University;
  • use Research Compass to record the plan for their research project, and to keep a systematic record of their engagement with their supervisory team in line with the code of practice for attendance and engagement;
  • maintain the progress of their research in accordance with the key milestones and those agreed with the supervisory team, including the presentation of written material in sufficient time to allow for comments and discussion at meetings;
  • comply with any conditions or requirements set out by funders;
  • take responsibility for personal and professional development identified through the skills needs analysis, through attendance at Stirling Graduate School activities including induction, skills development courses, conferences and other development opportunities as identified and required;
  • raise problems or difficulties (academic, professional or personal) affecting their research with the supervisory team or research administrator/research postgraduate tutor or if appropriate with SGS;
  • submit the thesis in time and in accordance with the University’s guidelines for the submission of theses, and to respond appropriately and timely to any recommendations of the examining committee;
  • be aware that if they are in receipt of a Tier 4 visa they are also subject to their Tier 4 visa responsibilities.

4.2 Research degree supervisors
The supervisory team expects commitment from the research student, who should respond accordingly to supervisory guidance and advice. The responsibilities of the supervisory team are to:

  • understand the appropriate University mechanisms for the recruitment, admission, enrolment and progress monitoring of research students;
  • undertake supervisory development programmes to enhance supervisory skills and knowledge, to maintain sufficient knowledge of the research area and research skills in order to be able to provide appropriate guidance on the research project;
  • encourage the research student to become familiar with and to adhere to all University policies, procedures and regulations;
  • guide the research student in their research project, to provide clear guidance on the key monitoring milestones and to keep a systematic record of meetings and progress via Research Compass;
  • be accountable for reporting on research student progress to the faculty and the University and to raise any issues for concern;
  • maintain contact with the research student; agree a schedule of meetings (at least monthly), provide appropriate guidance and constructive feedback and to provide this in an appropriate timeframe; 
  • assist the research student, through Research Compass and the skills needs analysis, in identifying and satisfying research, professional and personal skill development needs whilst recognising that doctoral study as a broad training opportunity for a range of careers.  Students will be encouraged and supported in developing their career options;
  • encourage the research student to engage in professional and personal development activities including attending the Stirling Graduate School skills development programme courses, relevant seminars series, and publication of conference papers and journal articles and any relevant activities within their faculty or their sector-wide subject discipline;
  • discuss with the research student any inadequate progress, problems or difficulties affecting their research and be able to direct them to other support services if necessary;
  • provide appropriate guidance and support on thesis preparation in a timely manner; 
  • assist with the timely preparation and arrangement of the viva voce (in liaison with the appropriate research administrator), to prepare the research student for the viva voce, advise on the outcome and encourage timely response to any recommendations of the examining committee.

4.3 Faculties

Faculties are expected to provide adequate and appropriate space and facilities to enable the student to undertake their programme of study.  

Faculties are responsible for:

  • developing and operating a structure, e.g. through directors of research students or research postgraduate tutors, to oversee progression and administrative activities of their research students and disseminating the knowledge of this;
  • ensuring that the supervisors of research students have sufficient time, formally allocated in the workload allocation model, to provide adequate support for each student;
  • reporting to SGS on the research student experience in their faculty on an annual basis;
  • managing the supervisory arrangements in the event of a change in direction of the project, absence (more than two months) of supervisory team members or at the request of the student or supervisory team.

4.4 Professional and support services
A range of other professional and support services can assist the lifecycle and performance of research students at the University of Stirling.  These include:

  • Academic Registry and Governance Services;
  • Stirling Graduate School;
  • Library and Information Services;
  • Student Support Services;
  • Students’ Union.

It is expected that each service area continuously monitors the appropriateness of its services for research students, responds effectively to issues and evidence (eg PRES) and works to provide solutions as appropriate for individual cases.  SGS works with service areas to ensure that responses to student feedback are timely, appropriate and communicated back to students.  

5 Selection and admission 

5.1 Selection
Professional doctorates – applications are made through the standard taught postgraduate online application process.  

Finding a supervisor - prospective research students are required to identify and contact their potential lead supervisor (a ‘supervisor finder’ tool has been developed to assist in this).  Where a potentially viable project and suitable student are matched it is expected that the prospective student and lead supervisor will work together to refine the students’ research proposal in advance of an application for study being submitted to the University.  This refinement aims to set the scope of the research project and its fit with the University; the supervisor does not have responsibility for writing the proposal.

An applicant who meets the standard entry requirements and who has produced a satisfactory research proposal will be invited to formally apply for a place at the University of Stirling and the proposed supervisory team will be responsible for the admissions decision, with faculty oversight.

The graduate admissions team provides applicants and academics with guidance on the admissions process.  

Directors of research students (or research postgraduate tutors) oversee postgraduate admissions within their faculty, approving any offers made outside normal entry requirements.

Interview - it is generally the case that the supervisory team is keen to meet or speak to a potential PhD student.  This is an important step in terms of gauging the ‘fit’ of the supervisory relationship.  Interviews can be undertaken via Skype or an equivalent video-conferencing technology if appropriate.

Funding – details of funded research degree opportunities are listed in the scholarships finder.  Applicants are requested not to apply to the University or to engage with potential supervisors unless they have considered their funding options.

5.2 Admission
The general minimum admissions requirements for entry to research degree programmes are:

  • an upper second class honours Bachelor’s degree or higher qualification, for some studentships and programmes of study a suitable master’s degree may be specified;
  • a candidate whose first language is not English is required to provide evidence of English language proficiency that would meet the equivalence of an IELTS 6.5 (6.0 in all bands).  Where a Tier 4 visa is required for study based in the UK, evidence of English language proficiency equivalent to a minimum level of IELTS 6.5 (6.0 in all bands) is required.  English language qualifications and waivers;
  • a research proposal that is appropriate for the degree and agreed with the proposed lead supervisor;
  • the availability of suitable supervisory and resource arrangements.

It is expected that full time research students should complete their doctoral studies within three years (within two years for MPhil and pro-rata for part time students).  An applicant wishing to transfer to the University of Stirling from another higher education institution may apply for a reduction in the periods set out in paragraph 13 of the research degree regulations.  To transfer into the University of Stirling applicants must demonstrate evidence of satisfactory progress in their previous institution.  The minimum period of study at the University of Stirling may not be reduced to less than one year (full-time) or two years (part-time).

Offer letter – a successful applicant will be issued a formal offer from the University.  The offer letter will detail the tuition fee payable, the programme and period of study and may list any outstanding conditions of the offer.  The applicant can accept or decline the offer.  

6 Enrolment and induction 

6.1 Enrolment
Before a new research student can enrol they must activate their University of Stirling student computer account.  This can be completed prior to arrival or on a University networked computer.  Details of the process are provided in the pre-enrolment email.

Enrolment is completed online and is the point at which a student is expected to check the information held about them and update if necessary, to pay their tuition fees where appropriate and to confirm their agreement to enrol at the University.

Research students can enrol at the start of any month, although they are encouraged to start on the following dates: 1 October, first working day in January, 1 April and 1 July.

Research students are expected to complete their degree within the stated periods of study.  The minimum, expected and maximum periods of study for each research degree is set out in paragraph 23 of the regulations.  Research students must enrol with the University when they begin their studies and annually thereafter.  Continued registration is, in all cases, subject to satisfactory progress.

6.2 Induction
All new research students will receive appropriate information about the environment in which they will be studying and pursuing research, including the names and contact details of all those involved in guiding and supporting them within their faculty and in the wider University. 

All research students should attend a co-ordinated programme of induction events at faculty level that introduces them to the information they will need to begin their programmes. Faculties should determine what is covered at their respective levels.

All research students are required to attend SGS induction where they will receive information about University regulations and policies including: 

  • supervisory expectations;
  • attendance and engagement requirements;
  • progress monitoring and review through Research Compass;
  • regulations that apply to the degree for which the student is registered;
  • institutional codes of practice that apply to the research degree programme;
  • the learning infrastructure and how to access it, including arrangements for remote access, to include equipment, library and computing facilities;
  • effective use of the university library and its resources;
  • the University’s expectations of the student’s responsibilities;
  • the opportunities available for the student to develop subject-specific and transferable skills;
  • arrangements for meeting students' personal, social, welfare and recreational needs, including information about facilities, opportunities and support available within the University.

7 Supervision

7.1 The supervisory team
All research students are allocated a supervisory team when they are offered a place to study for a research degree. The offer letter gives details of the supervisory team which: 

  • will comprise a minimum of two supervisors, at least one of whom must hold a doctorate;
  • at least one of whom must have previously successfully supervised one or more research students from registration through to completion;
  • will have expertise in the relevant subject or discipline area of research and knowledge of those methodologies and skills required for the research.

Wherever possible, the lead supervisor should have both the requisite experience and qualification and will assume overall responsibility for the research student, including responsibility for: 

  • the direction of the research programme;
  • all administrative matters related to the registration.

It is envisaged that supervisors would normally supervise no more than six full-time research students (or equivalent), as the lead supervisor.

If a member of the supervisory team is unavailable for a significant period of time (i.e. more than two months), it is the responsibility of the faculties to make alternative arrangements for supervision.  Staff on research leave are expected to continue their role as part of the supervisory team.

The supervisory team may be adjusted or augmented as the research programme progresses, as authorised by the faculty.

7.2 Supervisory development
It is important that all supervisors undertake development to enhance their supervisory skills and knowledge and to maintain sufficient knowledge of the research area and research skills in order to provide appropriate guidance on the research project. As such, supervisors are expected to engage in development opportunities and to meet any requirements for continuing professional development.  Faculty are required to ensure that their supervisors engage in supervisory development activities as set out below. 

Working closely with the faculty, Stirling Graduate School, Human Resources and Research and Enterprise Office provide development opportunities for all those involved in the supervision of research students. 

Established supervisors
Those supervisors, who have successfully supervised one or more research students to completion, should undertake development to:

  • maintain their knowledge and skills about best practice in supervising research students;
  • update their knowledge about any changes to policy (external or internal) or process in relation to research degrees;
  • be involved in the exchange of best supervisory practice amongst faculties;
  • help facilitate the development of a strong research network across the University.

New supervisors
Training for new supervisors is compulsory for all those who are new to supervision at doctoral level, normally prior to engagement as part of a supervisory team, in order to provide them with the necessary knowledge required to supervise research students in the context of internal and external regulatory frameworks.

Formal training will be provided through a combination of training supported through online resources and sessions to address specific themes or topics.

As supervisory teams must include at least one established supervisor, new supervisors will also receive informal mentoring through this process of supervision.

7.3 Departure and absence of a supervisor
In the event that a supervisor leaves the University the faculty will be responsible for ensuring that appropriate new supervisory team arrangements are in place for the research student without any undue delay. 

Where a supervisor is absent for an extended period (at least two months) then the faculty will make appropriate temporary/interim adjustments to the supervisory team.

Changes to supervision may also occur as a result of a change of the direction of the project or other reasons, and could be at the request of the research student.  Requests for changes to supervisors should be made to the faculty.

All changes to the supervisory team must be reported to Academic Registry and Governance Services.

8 Progress and progress monitoring arrangements

The nature of the research degree is such that progress can be dictated by the relationship between the research student and the supervisory team.  To help ensure that adequate progress is made the University has formal monitoring and progress requirements including regular and formally recorded supervisory meetings and formal annual progress reviews.  Research Compass is the mechanism by which this is achieved.  Supervisory teams and faculties may encourage, suggest and require additional progress monitoring activities, over and above formal University requirements, but these must be appropriate and justified.  

Some funding organisations stipulate requirements for satisfactory progress and progress monitoring, such as the minimum number of meetings per year and annual reporting.  Students have a responsibility to be aware of and meet these requirements.

8.1 Milestones
The University has established a suite of key milestones to assist students in completing their studies in a timely manner.  Milestones are designed to be indicators of progress rather than hurdles to progression.  Concerns raised in annual progress reviews (see 8.5) or regarding lack of progress generally (see 8.7) may impact a student’s progression through their programme.  The key milestones for research students on a full time PhD programme are:

  • Attend SGS induction;
  • Complete skills needs analysis (with the guidance of the supervisory team and within the first three months of study);
  • Record supervisory meetings - students are encouraged to record all supervisory meetings and a minimum of one every three months;
  • Undertake annual progress review.  The first annual progress review carries requires the submission of a substantial written piece and must be completed by 12 months for full-time students and 24 months for part time students.

NOTE: The milestones are compulsory points of contact for students sponsored under Tier 4 and failure to engage fully with these points of contact will result in the University withdrawing visa sponsorship.   Information on Additional points of contact and  further information for overseas students studying on a Tier 4 visa.

Milestones for PhD:

Milestones (indicative) for a full-time professional doctorates:

Note: professional doctorate programmes are comprised of a taught element followed by a research element.  The timeline below refers specifically to the research element and the ‘month of programme’ is indicative based on the taught element taking 18 months to complete (36 months part time).  The length of the taught element may vary across programmes.

 

8.2 Supervisory meetings
Lead supervisors should take the initiative in making the first contact with their research students. The first meeting should normally take place within a week of a student’s registration.  After the first meeting it becomes a shared responsibility, between student and supervisor(s), to maintain regular and adequate contact, irrespective of the student’s location

First supervisory meeting – the following should be discussed:

  • the student’s outline research plan;
  • the schedule of future meetings;
  • any taught components of the student's programme, including the timing, nature and implications of non-completion;
  • the academic standards expected for the relevant research degree;
  • any training and skills development needs – a timescale to complete the skills needs analysis on Research Compass should be agreed;
  • the use of Research Compass as the mechanism to record supervisory meetings.

It is expected that students (full time) will meet with their supervisor/s at least monthly and record notes and outcomes of these meetings.  Students are required to formally record a minimum of one supervisory meeting every three months in Research Compass but good practice would be to record all meetings on Research Compass.  The student records the meeting and the supervisory team is required to confirm the details recorded – this step ensures that the student and supervisory team have a shared understanding of any outcomes or required actions from each meeting.

8.3 Skills needs analysis
All training and learning is unique to the individual involved.  It is strongly recommended that at the beginning of each year research students discuss their development needs with their supervisory team.  It is a formal requirement in year 1 that a skills needs analysis is undertaken via Research Compass with the support of their supervisory team.  

The outcome of the skills needs analysis should inform a student’s personal and professional skills development plan; students are encouraged to consider the variety of development opportunities through faculties, the skills development programme, sector networks, doctoral training partnerships and centres and the University. 

Students are encouraged to report on their training and development in their quarterly supervisory meetings so that on-going reflection of their skills needs can be discussed with their supervisory team and appropriate adjustments made to their training and development plan each year.  

All research students are encouraged to take up to 10-days-worth of personal, professional and career development activities per year in addition to any discipline specific advanced methods training.  

8.4 Annual progress reviews
The annual progress review process, undertaken at the end of each 12 month period for both full and part-time research degree students, is a fundamental part of the University’s progress monitoring system.  Students are encouraged to consider their progress, identify barriers to progress, and to outline their future plans.  The progress review report is also a place to highlight any specific difficulties, with the way the supervisory team functions, as an example.

The Academic Panel as a subcommittee of ESEC has oversight of progress reporting and has authority to make recommendations on continuation and supervisory arrangements based on the content of an annual report.

Research students are invited to complete an annual progress review report in the final quarter of each year of study (i.e. months 9, 21 and 33 for full time students).  Students are asked to confirm that the information held by the University about their programme of study and supervisory team is accurate and then to detail progress to date and to outline future plans.  Students are also asked to indicate their satisfaction with the level of supervision received.

The lead supervisor is asked to report on the student’s progress, to confirm that they are on track to submit within the expected period of study and that a plan exists to ensure timely completion.

Where a supervisor team feels that a student’s progress is unsatisfactory then a course of action to address shortcomings must be detailed and shared with the student.

8.5 Year 1 annual progress review
The first annual progress review for full-time PhD students and the second annual progress review for part-time PhD students are used to determine whether a student’s progress is satisfactory.  The year 1 progress review process must be completed by the end of month 12 for full time students, or month 24 for part time students.

New part time students (in month 12) are asked to provide a description of the thesis topic, identified training needs and an initial timetable for the research.  

MPhil and professional doctorate students are required to undertake the same review process.

Format of the year 1 review
The minimum requirements for the year 1 annual progress review are as follows:

Review report
The student is required to submit a report up to 10000 words that demonstrates a critical engagement with the literature and presents a feasible and robust research plan.  The report could include: 

  • an introduction which frames the research question(s) in the context of current literature;
  • a summary of research undertaken and outcomes in year 1;
  • a draft thesis plan – likely thesis structure, details of any anticipated publications;
  • plans for future work, including proposed methodologies and a draft timeline for outcomes;
  • evidence of ethical approval where appropriate (as an appendix);
  • reflection on any challenges or barriers that present a risk to completion within the expected period of study;
  • details of training undertaken and training needs identified for the coming year.

Review meeting
Faculties are expected to convene a panel meeting to discuss the year 1 progress review report with the student.  The panel should consist of, at a minimum, two members of academic staff neither of whom should be the student’s lead supervisor.  The review meeting should be scheduled for month 12 (24 for part time students).

Faculties are required to address the minimum requirements set out above but can supplement these with other discipline specific requirements as appropriate.

Review outcomes
There are a number of possible outcomes of unsatisfactory progress in the year 1 annual progress review.

Where progress is found to be unsatisfactory then ESEC may: 

i. in the case of a student registered for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy transfer registration to the degree of MPhil;
ii. in exceptional cases defer a decision on progress for up to a further six months;
iii. require the student to withdraw from study.

(ii and iii apply for MPhil and professional doctorate students)

8.6 Years 2 and 3 progress reviews
The year 2 progress review must be completed by the end of month 24 for full time students or month 48 for part time students. 

Format of the year 2 review
The minimum requirements for the year 2 annual progress review are as follows:

Review report
The student is required to submit a report up to 5000 words summarising progress against the plan presented in the year 1 annual progress review.  The report could include: 

  • a summary overview that frames the research question(s) in the context of current literature;
  • a summary of research undertaken and outcomes in year 2;
  • an updated thesis plan – thesis structure, details of any anticipated publications;
  • plans for future work, including proposed methodologies and a draft timeline for outcomes;
  • evidence of ethical approval where appropriate (as an appendix);
  • reflection on any challenges or barriers that present a risk to completion within the expected period of study;
  • details of training undertaken and training needs identified for the coming year.

Review meeting
Faculties are expected to convene a panel meeting to discuss the year 2 progress review report with the student.  The panel should consist of, at a minimum, two members of academic staff neither of whom should be the student’s lead supervisor.  The review meeting should be scheduled for month 24 (48 for part time students).

Faculties are required to address the minimum requirements set out above but can supplement these with other discipline specific requirements as appropriate.

Review outcomes
There are a number of possible outcomes of unsatisfactory progress in the year 2 annual progress review.

Where progress is found to be unsatisfactory then ESEC may: 

i. in the case of a student registered for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy transfer registration to the degree of MPhil;
ii. in exceptional cases defer a decision on progress for up to a further six months;
iii. require the student to withdraw from study.

(ii and iii apply for MPhil and professional doctorate students)

Year 3 progress review and annual reviews for part time students
Students at the end of year 3 (month 60 onwards for part time students) are required to submit a summary of up to 500 words on their progress in the previous year of study via Research Compass.  

It is a requirement that the progress of all students, regardless of mode of attendance, is considered on an annual basis. 

Students studying on a part time basis have their formal reviews at 24 and 48 months.  Part time students are asked to submit a summary of up to 500 words on their progress in the previous 12 months and timetable to completion, via Research Compass, in months 12, 36 and 60.  

Students within the last year of study should detail their write-up plan. 

Students who have not submitted their annual progress reviews by the appropriate deadline will not be permitted to enrol for the next year and may lose access to University facilities as a consequence.  Where there are extenuating circumstances (see 10.3) these will be taken into account.

For those sponsored under Tier 4 the University will not be able to continue sponsorship where a student is not enrolled or actively engaged with their studies. 

8.7 Lack of progress
Concerns about progress should be identified as early as possible so that support can be offered. Such concerns will normally include failure to: 

  • arrange and attend meetings;
  • meet deadlines;
  • produce tangible outcomes of the research;
  • produce work to an appropriate standard.

 If either the research student or the supervisory team have concerns about progress, they should:

  • discuss concerns or any difficulties relating to the research or other areas which may be affecting performance;
  • ensure that the faculty are kept informed and, if necessary, become involved;
  • agree and document a plan for improvement of progress, incorporating appropriate targets and a schedule for review. 

The annual progress review is one mechanism to identify issues, but if more urgent or critical then supervisory meetings should be used or the issues should be raised directly with the faculty, specifically directors of research students (or research postgraduate tutors) or Stirling Graduate School.

If supervisory meetings identify inadequate progress the faculty will write formally to the research student raising concerns.  Where inadequate progress is considered to be on-going then the faculty can recommend to Academic Panel that the student should be withdrawn from their programme of study. 

If inadequate progress is confirmed at a formal annual progress meeting then the faculty will recommend withdrawal to ESEC.  Details of the circumstances resulting in termination of studies are outlined in paragraph 57 of the research degree regulations.  The research student is entitled to appeal against this decision using the code of practice for academic appeals. 

8.8 Lack of contact
The principles governing lack of progress will also apply if the research student fails to maintain contact with their supervisory team.

The supervisory team, research administrator and faculty will make every effort to:

  • contact the research student;
  • identify and discuss any reasons for lack of contact;
  • agree a plan to improve communication;
  • continue to monitor and review the plan.

If these steps fail to develop engagement and contact then it should be escalated to Academic Panel and Stirling Graduate School.

Faculties are required to monitor research student engagement, and should a research student fail to engage as expected, the following steps should be taken:

  • informal attempts to make email / telephone contact by supervisory team / research administrator and resolve situation at an early stage;
  • formal letter to request contact be made by the research student detailing reason for lack of contact;
  • formal letter to further request contact be made by research student;
  • formal letter to inform that steps will be taken to recommend withdrawal of  the student;
  • The faculty will notify tier4reporting@stir.ac.uk of those students not engaging if necessary.

Failure on the part of the research student to respond to the third formal letter will trigger the withdrawal procedure.

The research student is entitled to appeal against this decision in line with the code of practice for academic appeals.

8.9 Changing mode of study
A student can request a change from full time study to part time study or vice versa via Research Compass within their expected period of study.  A student may transfer between full and part-time study with the approval of their supervisory team and Academic Panel and the maximum period of study and associated submission date will be adjusted on a pro-rata basis.  

Permission will not be granted to change mode of study after then expected period of study has ended (i.e. within the final year of study for a full-time student (year 4)).

8.10 Changing study location
A student can request to study away from the University and this requires the approval of their supervisory team and Academic Panel.  

8.11 Field work
A student intending to undertake fieldwork away from the University for more than two weeks is required to notify the University via Research Compass. 

8.12 Extension
A student may be granted an extension to their maximum period of study at the request of their supervisory team.  Extensions may be granted on the grounds of exceptional circumstances causing delay to progress e.g. field work access problems, unavailability of laboratory facilities or chronic health issues.

Financial constraints are not grounds for extension as funding arrangements should be in place before you commence your studies.

The lead supervisor, with the support of the faculty research postgraduate tutor must make the case by email to Academic Registry and Governance Services at the time the issue arises and not less than one month (ie month 35 for a full time student) prior to the end of the expected period of study.  The maximum extension permitted over the entire period of study for any research degree is 12 months.  

Requests for extensions are considered by Academic Panel.  

8.13 Withdrawal
A research student considering withdrawing from their programme of research is advised to speak to their lead supervisor in the first instance.  Support and guidance can also be sought from the faculty research postgraduate tutor, Academic Registry and Governance Services or the Stirling Graduate School.

More information on withdrawal is available at http://www.stir.ac.uk/registry/studentinformation/thinkingaboutleaving/withdrawalofstudies/   

9 Research students as teachers
Teaching is recognised as a valuable part of career/personal development as a research student.  However, teaching commitments can be onerous and full time students should bear in mind that any paid teaching should not detract from their research.  It is recommended that the total time spent (including preparation and marking) should not exceed an average of 10 hours per week.  It is important to note that full time students undertaking any kind of activity outside their research project should ensure that it does not negatively impact their progress.  

Some funders may stipulate lower levels of teaching or additional employment whilst studying.  Conversely some studentships carry contracted teaching hours above the guidance stated here.

The provision of teaching within the University is the responsibility of faculties, and is paid for at the normal University rate.  Research students who wish to teach must successfully complete the relevant training delivered by the academic development team.

10 Forms of leave

10.1 Annual leave
Full time research students are entitled to 40 days annual leave (pro-rata for part-time), which includes 10 fixed/public holidays.  There are two fixed days at Easter and 8 fixed days at Christmas and the University is closed on these days.

It is the nature of undertaking research that there are times when the workload will be heavier than at other times. In planning the research and holidays it is important to take this into account. 

Students are required to notify the University of their intention to take annual leave via Research Compass.  The number of days leave taken will be recorded on their student record.

10.2 Maternity, paternity, shared parental and adoption leave
Maternity Leave
A research student who becomes pregnant and the expected week of childbirth is during the period of registration, will be entitled to maternity leave (a leave of absence from their studies) for up to 12 months. They will subsequently be required to notify their faculty one month before they intend to return to their studies. 

Paternity leave and shared parental leave
If a research student’s partner becomes pregnant and the expected week of childbirth is during the research student’s period of registration, they will be entitled to paternity leave of ten days, at any time during the partner’s pregnancy or within three months of childbirth. Paternity leave must be taken by arrangement with the supervisory team.  A student may be entitled to up to 50 weeks of shared parental (a leave of absence from their studies).

Adoption leave and shared parental leave
A research student who has been matched with a child and is the main adopter will be entitled to up to 12 months adoption leave.  A student who is the partner of an individual who adopts or the secondary adopter may be entitled to paternity leave or up to 50 weeks of shared parental (a leave of absence from their studies).

Students in receipt of external funding should consult with their sponsor regarding the relevant process for applying for maternity/paternity/adoption or shared parental leave.  If they are in receipt of a university studentship they should refer to the respective terms and conditions. 

10.3 Leave of absence (extenuating circumstances)
If a student is prevented from carrying out their studies by illness or for personal reasons, they should inform their lead supervisor as soon as possible.  If the absence is for less than one month then the student should notify their supervisory team. 

Where a student expects to be unable to engage in their studies for more than one month, then they should request a leave of absence and upload any relevant evidence to Research Compass (under ‘formal stuff’) .  Leave of absence may be granted to account for circumstances beyond the control of the student, for example ill health, family or financial problems.  The period of leave (normally at least a month) should be as short as is necessary to deal with the circumstances and will not be backdated for more than one month.

Students approaching the end of a period of leave of absence which has been granted for health reasons may be required to produce a letter from a medical practitioner confirming that they are fit to return to studies.  If towards the end of a period of leave of absence the student is not fit to return to studies, then a further leave of absence should be requested before the first one ends.

Students must not be engaged in their studies during any period of leave of absence.  The student's maximum period of study (i.e. 48 months for a full time PhD student) will not change but the maximum submission date will be extended accordingly.  A student returning from a leave of absence is not permitted to submit their thesis for examination within three months of their return to study.

Any funding body rules on extensions and suspensions will be additional to those of the University. The student and supervisory team must ensure that, where relevant, the approval of any funding body is obtained.

11 Thesis

11.1 Types of doctoral thesis
Traditional thesis
A standard PhD thesis consists of a series of linked chapters typically including an introductory or context chapter, and depending on the discipline a literature review(s) and overview of methodology, a series of chapters and a concluding chapter.

PhD by Publication
The thesis for a PhD by publication is comprised of a suite (a minimum of three) of publications around a topic that are contextualised by a substantive coherent narrative or context chapter. 

  • At least one of the publications must be published, the others may be in press in a peer reviewed journal;
  • Publications should be based on research carried out whilst the student is registered with the University;
  • Publications included in the submission for a PhD by publication must not have been used in the submission for another research degree;
  • Where a candidate includes jointly-authored publications in their submission, they should describe their contribution to the published work.  This statement should be bound with the other submitted materials. 

PhD by Practice
The thesis for PhD by Practice combines recorded practical work and a substantive context and narrative about the practical component, including extensive self-reflection.  

  • There must be a substantial permanent record of the practical work submitted with the ‘written doctoral submission’ at the same submission date. The substantial permanent record of practical work must be shown to have a direct intellectual relationship with the ‘written doctoral submission’. The permanent record must be such that the research activity involved must be fully open to scrutiny and examination;
  • The practical activity undertaken must be integral to the research project as a whole and practical aspects of the research must be made explicit;
  • The practical activity must be undertaken whilst the student is registered with the University. The practical activity included in the submission for a practice-based PhD must not have been used in the submission for another research degree;
  • The ‘written submission’ must include a reflexive analysis of the practical element.  

11.2 Notification of intent to submit
Research students are required to notify Academic Registry and Governance Services of their intention to submit their thesis at least two months before the intended submission date, which enables the University to appoint the examining committee.  

Students should complete and submit ARO 14 'notification of thesis title'.  Students are asked to give the title of their thesis, to indicate whether their thesis is a ‘by publication’ submission and to give a proposed thesis submission date.

The proposed date of submission is for planning purposes and students are not bound to submit on this date or with the specified title (unless it is the last day of the maximum period of study).

11.3 Form and presentation of the thesis
This section is designed to assist research students in the preparation of their thesis in accordance with the University rules. The following requirements must be adhered to in the format of the final thesis. 

Word count 

  • The following maximum word limits apply to theses for the following awards.  
  • It should be noted that these are maximum word limits and there is no expectation that theses should be written to achieve the maximum word limit;
  • Maximum word limits include appendices but exclude footnotes and bibliographies;
The number of pages indicated below is based on a thesis printed with size 12 font and 1.5 line spacing (approximately 350 words per page).

 

Award Maximum word limit
MPhil 50,000 words (approx. 150 pages)
PhD 80,000 words (approx. 250 pages)

PhD (by publication)

80,000 words (approx. 250 pages)
PhD (by practice) 40,000 words (approx. 120 pages)
Doctor of Applied Social Research 60,000 words (approx. 180 pages)
Doctor of Business Administration 60,000 words (approx. 180 pages)
Doctor of Education 60,000 words (approx. 180 pages)
Doctor of Midwifery/Nursing/Professional Health Studies 60,000 words (approx. 180 pages)
Doctor of Diplomacy 60,000 words (approx. 180 pages)

‌‌Language
The thesis must be presented in English, except where specific permission has been granted at the outset of study by the University.  Permission to present a thesis in another language must normally be sought at the time of application to enrol and is only likely to be given if the subject matter of the thesis involves language and related studies.

Format of thesis for examination
The thesis for examination should conform to the following requirements: 

  • Presented in a permanent and legible printed form;
  • Good quality A4 paper (minimum 80g) must be used;
  • Double-sided;
  • Margins at the binding edge should not less than 35 mm and other margins not less than 20 mm;
  • One-and-a-half line spacing (except for indented quotations or footnotes where single spacing may be used);
  • The main text of the thesis should ordinarily be printed in black in a font of point-size 11 or 12, and care should be taken in selecting an easily legible font. Serif fonts such as Times Roman are traditionally used, but Arial is considered by some to be easiest to read;
  • Pages must be numbered in one continuous sequence, i.e. from the title page to the last page of type, in Arabic numerals from 1 onwards. This sequence must include everything bound in the volume, including maps, diagrams, blank pages, etc. Any material which cannot be bound in with the text must be placed in a pocket inside or attached to the back cover or in a rigid container similar in format to the bound thesis;
  • The title page must bear the following:
    • the approved title of the thesis
    • the candidate’s full name as registered
    • the institution name 'University of Stirling’
    • the degree for which the thesis is submitted
    • the month and year of submission
  • An abstract consisting of no more than 300 words should be included;
  • In each copy of the thesis the abstract should be followed by a full table of contents (including any material not bound in) and a list of tables, figures, photographs and any other materials. 

11.4 Submission of thesis for examination
Binding
Theses may be submitted for examination in a temporary soft bound form such as “perfect binding”.  The number of copies required depends on the number of examiners and the supervisory team will advise.  One copy for each member of the examining panel is required. 

Submission
Hard copies for examiners are submitted to Academic Registry and Governance Services along with the Thesis Submission Form.  

12 Examination

12.1 Viva voce examination
A viva (oral examination) is required for all research degree candidates. It should normally be held at the University, however, it may be held elsewhere with the approval of Academic Panel.  All members of the examining committee should be present at the viva.

The purpose of the viva is:

  • to enable the examiners to assure themselves that the thesis is the candidate's own work;
  • to give the candidate the opportunity to defend the thesis and to clarify any obscurities in it;
  • to enable the examiners to assess the candidate's general knowledge in the particular field of learning.

12.2 Examining committee
Upon notification of a thesis title Academic Registry and Governance Services contacts the lead supervisor and invites them to nominate the examining committee.

The examining committee includes an independent chair, at least one internal examiner and at least one external examiner. Where the candidate is or has been a member of the academic staff of the University (according to the definition in the statutes) or in the absence of a suitably qualified internal examiner there should be at least two external examiners.

Where the candidate is or has been a member of the academic staff of the University there should be at least two external examiners.

The examining committee is approved by the Dean of Faculty and Academic Registry and Governance Services ensures that all appointments meet the criteria.

Members of the examining committee have the following roles and responsibilities:

Independent chair
An independent chair is not an examiner. An independent chair will not participate in any decision on the academic merit of the thesis, which is the responsibility of the examiners. Their role is a professional process management one.

The independent chair is a member of University of Stirling academic staff who is based in the same faculty as the candidate but has no previous connection to the candidate. The independent chair will have previously engaged with the research degree examination process in at least two of the following:

  • An internal or external examiner for a research degree;
  • A supervisor who has successfully supervised a PhD to completion;
  • Is experienced in the research award regulations of the University;
  • Is of appropriate seniority to confidently engage with the examiners;
  • Is able to deal with difficult circumstances with confidence and firmness.

The independent chair manages proceedings and has the following duties:

  • Read examiners' independent pre-viva reports ;
  • Chair and introduce the viva;
  • Act as student's supporter ensuring that due process is followed and that the student is offered a full opportunity to defend their thesis;
  • Advise on University regulations and examination protocol;
  • Facilitate examiners'; deliberations in reaching a decision and ensure the date for submission of any amendments or re-submission is set and agreed by the examiners;
  • Ensure all requirements for amendments or re-submission (as appropriate) are agreed by the examiners and clearly conveyed to the candidate before the conclusion of the examination and followed up with a written record of requirements within 10 working days of the viva.

Internal examiner
The internal examiner is a member of University of Stirling academic staff not directly connected with the student's work, but with knowledge of the general field. At least one internal examiner must not be probationary, honorary nor a recognised teacher of the University.

The internal examiner has the following duties:

  • Arrange the viva and the pre-viva meeting amongst examiners;
  • Act as host to the external examiner;
  • Send their independent pre-viva report to the independent chair;
  • Examine the thesis;
  • Ask questions in the viva, ensuring that the student has opportunities to positively demonstrate their knowledge and defend their approach;
  • Together with the external examiner produce an agreed report on the viva and the thesis;
  • Make recommendation for award of degree, or otherwise;
  • Specify corrections if required;
  • Check corrections have been made.

External examiner
The external examiner(s) is:

  • Independent to the candidate, the supervisory team and the University and a recognised expert in the field;
  • A research-active professor, reader, lecturer or other teacher of their institution (or of equivalent status).

To determine the suitability of any individual to act as external examiner who has not previously acted in this capacity for the University of Stirling, the Dean of Faculty should obtain a brief curriculum vitae which should be submitted to Academic Registry and Governance Services as part of the nomination process.

The following are ineligible for the role of external examiner:

  • No external examiner shall have been a supervisor of the candidate;
  • A member of staff of another institution should not be invited to act as an external examiner if s/he is a University of Stirling graduate who graduated within the last three years;
  • Ex-members of staff of Stirling who left the University less than three years previously and holders of honorary appointments for which remuneration is given at the University of Stirling should not be permitted to act as external examiners;
  • Emeritus professors and academic staff who have been retired for more than three years should not be permitted to act as external examiners unless it can be demonstrated that they continue to be research active.

The external examiner has the following duties:

  • Prepare an independent pre-viva report for discussion with the internal examiner(s) in advance of the viva;
  • Examine the thesis;
  • Lead questions in the viva, ensuring that the student has opportunities to positively demonstrate their knowledge and defend their approach;
  • Together with the internal examiner produce an agreed report on the viva and the thesis;
  • Make recommendation for award of degree, or otherwise;
  • Check corrections/amendment have been made, if required.

Nominations for examiners will be approved by the University. Academic Registry and Governance Services writes to the external examiners informing them of the terms and conditions of their appointment and their role as examiners. The letter will include a request that the examiner disclose to the University any conflict(s) of interest that might arise as a result of examining a candidate's thesis. Academic Registry and Governance Services confirms their appointments to the members of the examining committee and receives the acceptance from the external examiner. Appointment to the role of external examiner is conditional on the University receiving evidence of the nominated examiner's right to work in the UK.

12.3 Arrangements for the examination
The internal examiner is responsible for making all necessary arrangements for viva and for ensuring that the external examiner is consulted regarding these arrangements. The faculty may delegate this role to administrative staff as appropriate.

Examining committees are expected to complete the examination of the candidate and submit their report as soon as reasonably possible, normally within three months of receipt of the thesis. If this proves to be impossible, examiners are asked to notify Academic Registry and Governance Services of the reasons for the delay. The University is concerned to avoid candidates facing lengthy delays during the examination process.

Viva by teleconference technologies
In exceptional circumstances, for example where organising a timely viva is impractical due to travel restrictions or availability of examiners to attend; then a viva may be conducted using video conferencing technology (i.e. using computer networks to transmit audio and video data) including Skype.

The internal examiner organising the viva must request permission from Academic Panel for a viva to be conducted using video conferencing technology and requests will be considered under the following conditions:

  • all participants agree to use video conferencing;
  • time zone differences are considered when scheduling the viva;
  • a two way connection is used (not three way) and video conferencing not teleconferencing is used;
  • all parties have access to and technical support for the appropriate technologies (software and hardware) and are comfortable with its use;
  • all parties understand that in the event of any failure with the technology before or during the viva it will not be possible for the examination to continue and it will be necessary for the viva to be rescheduled.

It is preferable that it is the external examiner participating via video conferencing with the candidate, independent chair and internal(s) examiners co-located.

Any candidate requesting to undertake their viva as the participant using video conferencing must accept that they may, by virtue of the medium used, feel disadvantaged in the event of an unsuccessful outcome. Appeals on the grounds that the assessment was unfair due to the setup of the viva will not be considered.

12.4 Criteria for research degree awards

Master of Philosophy
The degree of MPhil can be awarded where the candidate has satisfactorily completed a programme of study which includes the critical investigation and evaluation of an approved topic and has demonstrated an understanding of research methods appropriate to the chosen field and has presented and defended a thesis, by oral examination, to the satisfaction of the examiners.

Doctor of Philosophy
The degree of Doctor of Philosophy can be awarded where the candidate has satisfactorily completed a programme of study which includes the critical investigation or evaluation of an approved topic(s) and has demonstrated an understanding of research methods appropriate to the chosen field resulting in an independent and original contribution to knowledge and has presented and defended a thesis and or practical element, by oral examination, to the satisfaction of the examiners. 

Professional doctorates
A named professional doctorate degree can be awarded at the conclusion of a period of advanced study to a candidate who has satisfactorily completed the necessary taught element and undertaken critical investigation and evaluation of a relevant professional practice or theory. The degree may be awarded following the oral defence of a submitted thesis to the satisfaction of the examiners.

12.5 Pre-viva reports and meeting
The internal and external examiners (but not the independent chair) are each required to complete and return a pre-viva report Examiners are required to comment on the strengths and weaknesses of the thesis in relation to the criteria for the degree of PhD, as set out in the descriptors for level 12 of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework, and to identify issues to be discussed during the viva. They are also required to comment on whether, in the opinion of the examiner, any part(s) of the work are publishable.

It is important that where a thesis reveals significant deficiencies which might lead to a report which is not unequivocally favourable, a representative sample of these should be drawn to the candidate's attention and time for explanation and defence allowed for within the viva.

It is possible for examiners to disagree to a greater or lesser extent in their evaluation of the work. It is, therefore, desirable that the examiners confer before the viva (chaired by independent chair) so that, should significant divergences of opinion be identified, a strategy may be devised which would resolve these differences by agreed means (which might include the careful structuring of the viva).

12.6 Examination recommendations
Each examiner is asked to consider the following questions:

  • Does the thesis indicate adequate knowledge of the field of study and associated literature?
  • Does the thesis indicate the ability to assess critical ideas and relate the investigations to a wider field of knowledge?
  • Is the thesis derived from a coherent study, reasonably achievable within the accepted timeframe? (See period of study)
  • Is the thesis properly presented, both in literary terms and overall structural terms?
  • Is the thesis properly and adequately referenced?
  • In the viva, did the candidate demonstrate an adequate defence of the thesis?

A consensus decision should be reached regarding the recommendation of the examining committee.

Within 10 working days of the viva, the examiners' report is sent to Academic Registry and Governance Services by the independent chair.

The possible recommendations that an examining committee can make are as follows:

i.  Award the degree

ii.  Correctionsthe candidate be awarded the degree subject to specific corrections to be signed off by a nominated examiner within one month.
The thesis requires correction of presentational and or/typographical errors before it is fit for the public domain.

iii.  Amendments the candidate be awarded the degree subject to specific amendments to be signed off by a nominated examiner within a maximum of six months (all candidates).

Work in the thesis requires re-presenting or existing text needs restructuring.

iv. Resubmission - the thesis requires significant revision and/or additional research to reach the standard required for the award. The candidate must undergo a further period of study and potentially a further viva, normally by the same examining committee, within 18 months of the initial examination (all candidates).

Further substantive work is required is necessary. This work will strengthen the thesis and may include any or all of the following: new data, fieldwork or practice; new analysis; substantial new literature review.

v. No award - the thesis is substantially deficient in all or any of the requirements for the degree and cannot be revised to satisfy these requirements, or the requirements of any other research degree. [Professional doctorate students will achieve an exit award based on taught credits accumulated.]

vi. [In the case of PhD] Award MPhil - The thesis is substantially deficient in one or more requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy and cannot be revised to satisfy these requirements, but the thesis satisfies the requirements of Master of Philosophy.

vii. [In the case of PhD] Resubmission for MPhil - The thesis is substantially deficient in one or more requirements for the doctoral degree and cannot be revised to satisfy these requirements. However, the thesis may satisfy the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy subject to specific substantial revisions. The revisions should be completed within a period of 18 months from the initial examination.

In the event that the examiners' recommendations are disputed then they will be referred to Academic Panel.

12.7  Examining committee report
The examiners' report submitted to Academic Registry and Governance Services following the viva should make a recommendation in accordance with the possible outcomes and stipulate any corrections, amendments or further work required.

The report should provide clear evidence that the required academic standards have been met, and that the examination has been a fair test of the candidate's ability.

Examiners should be aware that examiners' reports, including the pre-viva reports, are routinely copied to the candidates and their principal supervisor when the official notification of the outcome of the examination is conveyed to them.

It is normal for the examiners to convey informally to the candidate at the end of the viva, or shortly afterwards, the nature of the recommendation that will be made in their report. The form and content of the examiners' reports should be sufficiently detailed to take into account the scope and significance of the thesis and to appreciate its strengths and weaknesses. The report should be sufficient to reconcile the final decision with the pre-viva judgements. The completed forms should be returned direct to Academic Registry and Governance Services.

The Examiners' recommendations are subject to scrutiny by the Education and Student Experience Committee's Academic Panel. If there are issues with the recommendation, any final decision will be taken by the Education and Student Experience Committee's Academic Panel.

12.8 Corrections, amendments and re-submission
The candidate will receive formal written notification of the viva outcome and details of any action required (i.e. amendments or re-submission, as outlined in the examiners' report) from Academic Registry and Governance Services within 10 working days of the viva.

Where a further viva is required following resubmission the same examining committee will be invited to reconvene.

Corrections
The candidate is responsible for addressing the minor corrections within one month of receipt of the viva outcome letter. The candidate will be required to resubmit one amended copy of their thesis and Academic Registry and Governance Services will seek confirmation from the internal examiner that the necessary corrections have been satisfactorily made.

Amendments
The candidate is responsible for addressing the amendments within a maximum of six months of receipt of the viva outcome letter. The candidate will be required to resubmit one amended copy of their thesis and Academic Registry and Governance Services will seek confirmation from the nominated examiner(s) that the necessary amendments have been satisfactorily made.

Re-submission and re-examination
Where the examining committee recommends that resubmission, and in some cases re-examination, is required, the candidate will be permitted a re-examination on one occasion only.

The candidate is responsible for addressing the significant amendments in the timescale outlined by the examiners (up to 18 months, depending on the extent of the additional work required, from receipt of the viva outcome letter).

Extension to resubmission deadline
A candidate experiencing extenuating circumstances impacting their ability to meet the re-submission deadline must inform Academic Registry and Governance Services of the circumstances (by email) at least one month before the resubmission deadline. The Academic Panel will consider any requests for extension to the resubmission deadline on a case by case basis within five working days of the request for extension.

12.9 Re-examination
The examining committee has discretionary authority to reconsider the thesis either by correspondence or by a further viva. Where a second viva is waived (and the case for this has been made to Academic Registry and Governance Services), a pre-exam report from each examiner, and a joint report completed following the reading of the revised thesis, is required. The candidate should resubmit an amended copy of their thesis for each examiner and Academic Registry and Governance Services will seek confirmation from the examining committee that the amendments have been satisfactorily made.

Where a further viva is required then this would ordinarily be conducted by the original examining committee and organised and conducted in line with the guidance above. Any proposed change to the examining committee, presented with justifiable rationale, must be agreed by Academic Panel. Changes to the examining committee may be proposed as a consequence, for example, of a shift in the focus of the thesis following significant revision and or additional research undertaken.

12.10 Re-examination outcomes
The possible recommendations that an examining committee can make following the re-examination of a thesis are outlined in the regulations and summarised as follows:

Master of Philosophy

  • Award MPhil
  • Corrections
  • Amendments
  • No award

Doctor of Philosophy

  • Award PhD
  • Corrections
  • Amendments
  • Award MPhil
  • No award

Professional doctorates

  • Award Doctorate
  • Corrections
  • Amendments
  • Award taught qualification (exit award)

12.11 Aegrotat and Posthumous Awards

Recommendations for the award of a research degree can be made where the student is prevented from completing the degree due to illness or has died prior to completing the degree, whether the thesis has been submitted for examination or not.

Where the thesis has been submitted, the thesis shall be examined according to the procedure specified in the appropriate regulation. The examiners shall consider the thesis together with reports supporting the recommendation of award, as provided by the supervisor and the director of research in the faculty. If the examiners are satisfied that the thesis meets the conditions specified in the appropriate regulation, a recommendation for award can be made.

In the case of a thesis submitted for the degree of PhD, if the examiners are agreed that an award should be made, they shall make one of two recommendations as follows:

  • If no or minor modifications have been identified, a recommendation for the award of PhD should be made.
  • If major modifications are required, a recommendation for the award of MPhil should be made.

In the case of a thesis submitted for the degree of MPhil, the examiners shall make one of two recommendations as follows:

  • If no or minor modifications have been identified, a recommendation for the award of MPhil should be made.
  • If major modifications are required, a recommendation for no award should be made.

In all such cases, a copy of the thesis as submitted should be sent to the student’s family by the relevant faculty, and a copy retained within the faculty records.

Where the student has not submitted the thesis for examination, there must be available evidence of the research work. This evidence may include progress reports from the supervisory team on the student’s work, and written material produced by the student in the form of draft chapters; published work; work prepared for publication; presentations to conferences and progress reports to the supervisor.

The work produced by the student shall be of sufficient standard to indicate that the thesis conditions specified in the appropriate regulation would have been met by the student. The progress reports produced by the supervisory team during the student’s period of study shall also support the recommendation that the student would have been able to meet the thesis conditions.

In addition to the written evidence described above, a report supporting the recommendation of award shall be provided by the supervisory team and the director of research in the faculty. The supervisory team may be required to provide supplementary or explanatory material to facilitate the examiners’ understanding of the student’s research contribution. Where this is the case, the supervisory team shall also provide a statement indicating the work which he or she has undertaken on the student’s behalf in respect to this.

The collected work together with the supporting statements, supplementary material and any other information required by the examiners shall be examined according to the procedure specified in the appropriate regulation. If the examiners are satisfied that the available evidence meets the thesis conditions specified in the appropriate regulation, a recommendation for the award of MPhil can be made. In exceptional circumstances, the examiners may recommend the award of PhD, subject to the approval of the Education and Student Experience Committee.

Conferral of Aegrotat and Posthumous Awards

Aegrotat awards are not normally conferred within a graduation ceremony and are not liable for the University’s specified conferral of degree fee.

Posthumous awards may be conferred within a graduation ceremony where the student’s next of kin choose this. Such a conferral can be made regardless of whether the next of kin wish to attend the graduation ceremony. In instances where the student’s next of kin do not attend the graduation ceremony, the award may be accepted on the student’s behalf by an appropriate member of University staff, or a representative of the Students’ Union. 

12.12 Academic misconduct
Research students are required to maintain high standards of academic conduct at all times and any form of academic misconduct will be taken seriously. Misconduct is taken to include in particular (but is not limited to):

  • piracy: the deliberate exploitation of ideas from others without proper acknowledgement;
  • plagiarism: the copying or misappropriation of ideas (or their expression), text, software or data (or some combination thereof) without permission and due acknowledgement;
  • misrepresentation: the deliberate attempt to represent falsely or unfairly the ideas or work of others, whether or not for personal gain or enhancement;
  • academic fraud: deliberate deception which includes the invention or fabrication of data and/or experimentation.

Where evidence of an assessment offence in the preparation of the thesis, or other irregularities in the conduct of the examination, comes to light prior to or subsequent to the recommendation of the examining committee, action will be taken, in accordance with the University policy on academic misconduct.

13 Submission of the final thesis
Following a decision by an examining committee to make an award the candidate is required to submit the following within one month of confirmation of approval of corrections by examiners: 

  • an electronic copy, submitted to the institutional repository;
  • after acceptance of the electronic copy, to submit one hard bound copy of their final thesis, including any supporting material, which will be lodged in the University library. 

13.1 Presentation of the final thesis
The final thesis must be in a fixed binding of boards and cloth back, coloured black for the degree of PhD and dark blue for the degree of Master. 

Each volume must bear on the spine, in gold, the author’s name and initials, the degree for which it is submitted and the year of submission, all in 22pt caps/lower case. The direction of the lettering should be down the spine. 

Arrangements should be made with the appropriate body in individual cases for the submission of material (e.g. tapes, films, slides) which is not in book form. 

13.2 Submission
The hard bound copy of the final thesis must be submitted to Academic Registry and Governance Services.  

The electronic version of the final thesis must be submitted to STORRE in adobe acrobat portable document format (PDF) or alternative format as set out in the University’s digital repository policy

13.3 Electronic copy
When depositing the electronic copy of the thesis in the University’s digital repository candidates will agree to the following: 

  • An electronic copy of the full text of a doctoral thesis will also be included in the British Library Electronic Theses Online Service (EThOS). EThOS automatically harvests the full text of doctoral theses that are public in the University Repository;
  • University of Stirling may electronically store, copy or translate the thesis to any medium or format for the purpose of future preservation and accessibility;
  • University of Stirling is not under any obligation to reproduce or display the thesis in the same formats or resolutions in which it was originally deposited; 
  • The thesis will be accessible to a wide variety of people and institutions– including automated agents, via the internet;
  • That once the thesis is deposited, metadata will be incorporated into public access catalogues, this citation to the thesis will always remain visible;
  • University of Stirling does not hold any obligation to take legal action on behalf of the depositor, or other rights holders, in the event of a breach of intellectual property rights or any other right, in the material deposited. 

Rights granted to the digital repository through this agreement are entirely non-exclusive. The candidate is free to publish the thesis elsewhere. 

13.4 Borrowing and Access
The copy of the thesis deposited in the University library becomes the property of the library and will be available for individual or interlibrary loan (and possible microfilming or photocopying in whole or part) unless, with the permission of the Academic Panel, the author wishes to restrict access. 

The candidate has the opportunity, when they submit their electronic thesis to the University repository, to specify a delay or restriction to the date the full text of their thesis is made publicly available via the internet, for example, to allow time to publish articles from their thesis;

Such restrictions must be justified in terms of the exemptions to disclosure under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and/or the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 as appropriate. Candidates should be aware that, notwithstanding any grant of approval to restrict access, the University may nonetheless be required to disclose the thesis in whole or in part under this legislation. 

Any restriction imposed shall apply also to the electronic version in the University’s digital repository. 

13.5 Copyright
Copyright in all theses and work submitted will remain with the author except as decided under the research degree regulations. Candidates must acknowledge all material used, the copyright of which is not their own. 

14 Appeals and complaints

Academic Appeals
A student or candidate for award may request the review of a decision on their progression or award by submitting an academic appeal. Details of the grounds for appeal and the process 

Complaints
Where a student or candidate for award believes that they did not receive an appropriate level of service, or that their expectations were not met, they are entitled to submit a complaint to the University.  Details of the complaints procedure 

15 Continuous Improvement
Any student or member of staff who wishes to comment on this code of practice, especially where suggestions for enhancement are being made should contact Stirling Graduate School (sgs@stir.ac.uk).  We welcome comments made in the spirit of continuous improvement.

May 2015

Code of Practice for the Support of Research Students (2014/5)

10.1 Preamble

10.1.1            The aim of this Code is to assure the quality of the student experience of postgraduate research at Stirling.  It lays out expectations and procedures in relation to the admission, training, supervision, support and progress of research postgraduate students.  While there may be variations in practice occasioned by the particular circumstances of an individual student or research programme, the account given in this Code of the roles and responsibilities of supervisors and students applies without exception across the University.

10.1.2            These procedures embody the following widely accepted principles of good practice: 

  • students should receive clear, full and accurate information about relevant procedures, regulations, services and support;
  • successful completion of a research degree depends upon clearly articulated and understood expectations, an agreed programme of study and schedule of outcomes, regular review of those expectations and outcomes and regular monitoring of progress;
  • supervisors should have a record of scholarly achievement in a relevant area of study;
  • effective supervision depends upon a supportive and facilitative, but also critical and questioning, relationship between the supervisor and the student;
  • research skills training is an integral and essential part of a research degree programme;
  • students are entitled to expect opportunities to participate in an active research culture within their divisions.

10.1.3              In formulating this Code account has been taken of Section 1: Postgraduate Research Programmes of the QAA’s Code of Practice for the Assurance of Academic Quality and Standards in Higher Education (rev. 2004) and relevant guidance issued by the Research Councils and SHEFC.

10.1.4              This Code should be read in conjunction with the Regulations for Higher Degrees by Research approved by Academic Council.

10.1.5              Handbooks or other documentary guidance issued by Divisions must be consistent with this Code.  Divisional documentation should be submitted annually for joint review by the Quality Office and the Stirling Graduate Research School (SGRS).  

10.1.6              While this document sets out procedures for the support of postgraduate research students, it is the responsibility of the student to meet the relevant assessment criteria.

10.2 Responsibility of the University

The University is responsible for establishing a policy framework within which supervisory processes can be developed and through which quality standards can be maintained and enhanced.

 It will aim to ensure that:

10.1.1              Requirements and standards for the particular degree are clearly described and communicated.

10.1.2              Entry requirements of potential candidates are defined at a level to ensure as far as possible candidates have the capacity to succeed.

10.1.3              Admissions procedures are clear, consistent, non-discriminatory and fairly applied.

10.1.4              Admissions decisions involve at least two members of staff, one of whom will be the Head of the relevant Division or a nominated deputy, who shall have the final decision.

10.1.5              Candidates meet minimum University and other relevant entry criteria

10.1.6              Students have access to library and IT services in support of their study and research programmes.

10.1.7              Students are fully aware of the intellectual property, commercial and relevant compliance considerations arising from their research projects and are kept up to date on such matters.

10.1.8              Lines of communication internally and externally for reporting on progress are clearly set out and adhered to.

10.1.9              Procedures are in place for the resolution of disputes relating to supervision or support services for research students.

10.1.10           Training and support of academic staff who are undertaking supervision of research students is available

10.1.11           Support in developing appropriate generic transferable skills and general competencies is available for students.

10.1.12           There are explicit procedures for the examination process, including clear guidelines for examiners, that describe institutional expectations for the particular degree and any requirements for confidentiality.

10.1.13           There are appeals procedures setting out the grounds on which and the means whereby students may appeal against the outcome of the examination.

10.1.14           Reviews of the effectiveness of research skills training are carried out on a regular basis and the results of these reviews incorporated into ongoing quality enhancement.

10.1.15           There are mechanisms for monitoring research student progression and submission rates across the University and discussing any problems identified with the Divisions concerned.

10.1.16           Institutional policies on equal opportunities and race equality are clearly described, communicated and applied. (http://www.diversityandequality.stir.ac.uk)

10.1.17           Students are informed of University provision and support for students with disabilities (http://www.quality.stir.ac.uk/disability/disabled.php).

(http://www.student-support.stir.ac.uk/advice/disability/index.php)

10.1.18           The principal supervisor and second supervisor’s Division(s) is/are an appropriate location for the research, having access to the necessary time, space, facilities, equipment and technical staff for the student’s study programme.

10.1.19           In appointing principal and other supervisors, including substitutes, as recommended by the Head of Division(s), the staff are sufficiently expert to be able to provide the student with appropriate supervision. Probationary members of staff should not be appointed as principal supervisors.

10.1.20           Through the relevant division, appropriate supervisory arrangements are made for students undertaking fieldwork.

10.1.21           Supervisory responsibility is clearly designated and understood by supervisors and students, and that staff undertaking supervision have had appropriate experience, training and support.

10.1.22           The student’s initial period of training and supervision is monitored and PhD registration is confirmed accordingly upon successful completion of initial period.

10.1.23           The requirements for progress reporting are met, and supported by procedures appropriate to the discipline. Ultimately, the responsibility for submission of the thesis within the timescale prescribed in the regulations for higher degrees by research lies with the student, although supervisors should provide guidance to the student in planning the appropriate timetable.

10.1.24           Full and accurate information is disseminated to all research degree students, with details of requirements and procedures relating to all postgraduate research degree matters.

10.1.25           Any Divisional guidelines comply with approved University procedures.

10.3 Responsibilities of Divisions

Divisions will aim to ensure that:

10.1.1            In the admissions process, consideration is given to whether candidates have the potential to complete their research programme successfully and on time.

10.1.2            In recommending to Postgraduate Admissions Office the appointment of principal and other supervisors, including substitutes, the staff are sufficiently expert to be able to provide the student with appropriate supervision

10.1.3            The workload of the principal and second supervisor, in research, teaching, supervision and any other duties, is such as to allow sufficient time to provide the student with appropriate and adequate supervision throughout the period of candidature for the degree.

10.1.4            The arrangements for supervisory load and responsibilities for the principal and second supervisors are agreed for each given situation and established at the outset.

10.1.5            The precise number of students a supervisor has will depend on the nature of his or her other responsibilities, and when allocating supervisory duties the division must have reasonable limits in mind.

10.1.6            The proposed research topic is of sufficient scope and of an appropriate nature to allow as far as possible the successful and timely completion of the research programme.

10.1.7            Due recognition is given to the research interests and competence of students in determining the research topic.

10.1.8            Research proposals and activities are scrutinised to ensure that they meet appropriate ethical standards.

10.1.9            Substitute supervision arrangements are put in place if the principal supervisor is to be unavailable for a period of more than six weeks.

10.1.10          There should be clear divisional arrangements to monitor the general progress and welfare of research degree students and to monitor compliance with administrative requirements such as reporting.  This should involve monitoring the supervision and progress of all research students within the division and should normally include a formal meeting between the student and both supervisors once a year (in person or by tele/video-conferencing).  Divisions should identify a source of impartial advice for research students and supervisors to help identify, and resolve, any potential difficulties at an early stage.

10.1.11          Mechanisms are in place to support the development of productive intellectual relationships and professional and ethical behaviour between staff and research students and among research students, to include:

  • Appropriate induction / orientation programmes directed towards the needs of the discipline
  • Training on research methods and procedures appropriate to the discipline
  • Training on health and safety
  • Drawing attention to plagiarism
  • Seminars or appropriate training in ethical issues and procedures, as appropriate to the discipline.

10.1.12          Students receive advice on preparation for the viva voce examination.

10.1.13          Where the principal supervisor and second supervisor are based in separate divisions, or where the second supervisor is not a member of staff of the University of Stirling, responsibility for monitoring will rest with the principal supervisor’s division.  Arrangements will be made (by all parties) to ensure that the second supervisor is informed of progress.

10.4 Responsibilities of Supervisor(s)

Every research student shall have at least one principal and one second supervisor appointed by the Head of Division.

10.5 Procedures and Regulations

The principal supervisor should aim to ensure that at the outset of the period of study the student is aware of:

10.1.1            the relevant academic standards and what is expected in a successful thesis;

10.1.2            the minimum and maximum periods of study permitted by the regulations, the scale of the thesis, and the examination procedure;

10.1.3            the purpose and structure of the initial period of supervision and training;

10.1.4            the process by which the initial period of registration as a research student is successfully concluded;

10.1.5            the requirement for an annual progress report to be submitted to the Admissions, Progress and Awards Committee

10.1.6            how to access relevant University regulations and procedures (including this Code, section 1 of the QAA Code of Practice, and the University’s Regulations for Higher Degrees by Research);

10.1.7            University and Divisional safety procedures, any hazards or risks relating to the proposed area of research, and the provisions of relevant health and safety legislation;

10.1.8            the implications for his or her work of the Data Protection Act, the Freedom of Information Act, the Copyright Designs and Patents Act and other relevant legislation;

10.1.9            the ethical standards expected of researchers in the discipline, and any ethical or legal obligations arising from the research programme.

10.6 Planning

 The student should propose for agreement with the principal supervisor:

10.1.1            the nature and scope of the research topic;

10.1.2            a provisional structure for the thesis;

10.1.3            a plan of research and study for completion of the project within an appropriate timescale;

10.1.4            a precise schedule for the submission of work for comment, which will be updated periodically;

and both parties will retain a copy of the agreed research plan and submission schedule.

10.7 Training

The principal supervisor will aim to ensure that:

10.1.1            the student is aware of University training provision for research students (at divisional and SGRS level);

10.1.2            the student has been advised on the training requirements of their programme of study;

10.1.3            the student is assisted in identifying any specific training needs and advised on how they can be met;

10.1.4            advice is provided on relevant sources of information, research methodology and development opportunities.

10.8 Meetings and Progress

The principal supervisor will:

10.1.1            at the outset of the period of study, and periodically thereafter, agree with the student a precise schedule of regular meetings, and provide the student with a copy of this schedule;

10.1.2            normally hold meetings with full-time students at least monthly, and with part-time students in person or by electronic means at least two-monthly, although the frequency of contact will vary during the period of the student’s research and according to whether they are local or remote;

10.1.3            seek to ensure that the schedule of meetings is normally adhered to, and that meetings are of a reasonable duration (normally at least an hour) and free from interruptions;

10.1.4            at the end of each formal supervision meeting agree with the student a brief dated record of the discussion, noting its duration, main topics and agreed action points;

10.1.5            advise the student on how to contact him or her at other times;

10.1.6            agree with the student as appropriate revisions to the agreed research plan and schedule for the submission of work;

10.1.7            keep the agreed structure of the thesis under review,  agree modifications and revisions in the light of research findings as the work progresses and alert Student Administration to any potential difficulties in submission by due date;

10.1.8            timeously complete annual progress reports giving unambiguous information on the quality of the work and the student’s progress against agreed targets;

10.1.9            seek to ensure that any required reports that external funders request directly from the supervisor(s) are completed timeously.

10.1.10          copy to the second supervisor all formal relevant correspondence (e.g. relating to progress, monitoring, research topic, schedule for submission of work etc., including email) sent to the student.

10.9 Feedback

The principal supervisor will:

10.1.1            monitor performance, commenting clearly on the quality of work submitted and ensuring that the student is promptly made aware of inadequate progress or below-standard work;

10.1.2            provide critical and constructive feedback on work submitted, commenting on its strengths and weaknesses in research achievement, argument and presentation;

10.1.3            return work submitted with feedback within a reasonable period of time (normally within a month of submission);

10.1.4            comment on first and second drafts of material submitted but not ordinarily on third or subsequent drafts.

10.10 Advice and Support

The principal supervisor will advise the student on:

10.1.1            relevant theoretical approaches and appropriate research methods and techniques;

10.1.2            the availability of relevant research resources and on sources of funding; 

10.1.3            storing research materials safely and securely in an appropriately referenced form;

10.1.4            seminar, conference and presentation opportunities both within and outwith the University;          

                      and will encourage and advise the student

10.1.5            on taking advantage of opportunities to present their work;

10.1.6            on seeking to publish work arising from the research;

10.1.7            as far as possible, on joining appropriate networks by putting him or her in touch with relevant researchers  and academic bodies in their field;

10.1.8            on the career aspirations of the student.

10.11 Records and Notifications

The principal supervisor will:

10.1.1            timeously complete annual progress reports giving unambiguous information on the quality of the work and the student’s progress against agreed targets (cf. 10.6.3)

10.1.2            encourage the student to complete the student section of the progress report fully and openly;

10.1.3            advise the Head of Division on completion of the initial report and also on the recommendation to be made to APAC at the end of the initial period of registration;

10.1.4            check that the student is fully aware of, and understands, the content of the initial report to be made to APAC at the end of the initial period of registration;

10.1.5            ensure that the student’s central and divisional records are kept up-to-date, containing: copies of research plans (10.6.3), meeting schedules and schedules for submission of work (10.6.4, 10.8.1), supervisory meeting reports (10.8.4); copies of all correspondence relating to the student’s studies and research; documents or information disclosed by the student on matters that affect his or her progress

10.1.6            check that the student is aware that any records or data maintained by the student must comply with the Data Protection Act and are covered by the University’s registration with the Information Commissioner.   

10.12 Second Supervisor

10.1.1            The second supervisor has an integral role to play, providing backup and support to the principal supervisor as required, giving additional feedback and advice on student’s work, and insulating students against any unplanned loss or interruption of the services of the principal supervisor.

The second supervisor will:

10.1.2            contact their full-time student(s) either in person or by electronic means at least every three months, and part-time students at least every six months, to update themselves on the direction of the student’s study and their progress;

10.1.3            be copied in on all formal relevant correspondence (including email) between the student and the principal supervisor;

10.1.4            read and comment on samples of work produced by the student prior to the scheduled  contact.

10.13 Responsibilities of the Student

It is the responsibility of the student to:

10.1.1            Become familiar and comply with Regulations for Higher Degrees by Research and also to become familiar and comply with any other relevant University and Divisional policies and procedures.

10.1.2            Prepare and propose for agreement with the supervisors:

a)        the nature and scope of the research topic

b)        a provisional structure for the thesis

c)        a plan of research and study for completion of the project within an appropriate timescale

d)        a precise schedule for the submission of work for comment

10.1.3            Keep a copy of the agreed research plan and submissions schedule, and provide the supervisors with a copy.

10.1.4            Prepare, and propose for agreement with the supervisors, any changes to the nature and scope of the research topic.

10.1.5            Contribute to discussions with the supervisor on the type of guidance and comment considered most helpful, and agree and adhere to a schedule of meetings, as agreed with the supervisor, to ensure regular contact.

10.1.6            After each formal supervision meeting prepare, and agree with the supervisor, a brief dated record of the discussion, noting its duration, main topics and agreed action points, and provide the supervisors with a copy of this record. 

10.1.7            Assess their skill levels, and discuss with the supervisor any specific training needs and how they will be met, and to schedule generic skills training sessions from the SGRS Seminar Programme.

10.1.8            Take the initiative in raising problems or difficulties with the research project and share responsibility with the supervisor for seeking appropriate solutions.  Be aware of the procedures for resolution of any disputes which may arise.

10.1.9            Maintain the progress of the work in accordance with the timetable discussed and agreed with the supervisor to ensure submission of the thesis within three years or the relevant part-time period.

10.1.10          Complete the student section of the University research progress report fully and openly.

10.1.11          Ensure any required reports to External funders are completed timeously.

10.1.12          Notify Student Administration of the intention to submit and the title of the thesis at least two months before the expected date of submission.  This process will trigger the appointment of an examining committee.

10.1.13          Prepare the thesis/project for examination, including arranging for its typing, proof-reading and binding and, where appropriate, consulting the supervisor regarding matters of style and presentation, according to the Rules for Presentation of Thesis.

10.1.14          Notify contact details at the beginning of the research programme and any subsequent change of name, address or status to the principal supervisor and Student Administration (records.office@stir.ac.uk).

10.1.15          Copy all formal relevant correspondence (including email) sent to the principal supervisor to the second supervisor and vice versa.

10.1.16          Become familiar with divisional arrangements for monitoring research degree students.

10.1.17          Obtain necessary ethics approvals prior to data collection, and conduct research in accordance with ethics requirements. 

10.1.18          Become familiar and comply with the University Code of Good Practice in Research and understand the nature of plagiarism.

10.1.19          Follow University policy on intellectual property and observe any limitations on communication, publication or access to the thesis which have been agreed with the University and any commercial partner or collaborator (http://www.calendar.stir.ac.uk/)

10.1.20          Become familiar with the implications for the research of the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act.

10.1.21          Become familiar with and utilise the Library, IT services and other resources, facilities and opportunities provided by the University and division (http://www.is.stir.ac.uk/index.html.

10.1.22          Endeavour to integrate into the intellectual community provided by the division and University in order to enhance the research programme.

10.1.23          Acquire and improve skills and knowledge required for completion of the research project.

10.1.24          Take advantage of conference, seminar and presentation opportunities both within and outwith the University.

10.1.25          Acquire and improve the skills and knowledge that will enhance employability or career development after graduation. .

10.1.26          Ensure they devote sufficient time to complete their programme of study.

10.1.27          Enhance their ability to work as an independent researcher.

10.1.28          Ensure that original data are recorded in a durable and appropriately referenced format and stored safely for the stipulated period.

10.1.29          Follow, at all times, safety practices relevant to the field of research, and adhere to health and safety guidelines in the place of study and work, storing all research material safely and securely in an appropriately referenced form.

10.1.30          Be prepared to participate in University or Funding Council surveys gathering feedback on the research student experience, and on the effectiveness of research training.

10.1.31          Ensure that professional conduct and behaviour is in accordance with accepted academic practice.

10.1.32          If the research programme is a joint project with a commercial or industry partner,  keep the supervisors updated on all interactions with the commercial or industry partner prior to and after meetings for advice and direction.

10.1.33          Ensure availability for scheduled meetings and consultation in working hours if a full-time candidate.  When working off-campus, seek prior approval of the supervisor and provide details.  If a part-time candidate, arrange and agree with the supervisors on days/times of availability on campus.

10.1.34          Alert the supervisor to any delay or interruption to the agreed schedule for production and submission of the project.

10.1.35          Seek approval from Student Administration for absence or leave from study for any circumstances or for any change to registration status. 

Academic Council, June 2005

Revised April 2006

10.14 Good Practice for Full-Time Research Students

10.14.1          The aim of these guidelines is to establish, as far as possible, good practice throughout the University and to highlight the standards to which the University is aspiring. While many divisions already conform to these standards, it is recognised that not all divisions can achieve these at present.

10.14.2          Divisions are strongly encouraged to create more detailed documents based on these guidelines, outlining the provision for research students in their particular division.  All research students should regularly receive copies of these documents. The guidelines refer to the standards for full-time research students. It is recognised that part-time students have very different needs and that simple legislation may not be appropriate. In addition to reviewing the provision for full-time postgraduate research students, divisions must also consider part-time students and address their needs.

10.14.3          These guidelines fall into line with developments nationally, e.g. the HEQC Guidelines on the Quality Assurance of Research Degrees, and guidelines issued by the Research Councils, the British Academy and the National Postgraduate Committee. It is likely that in future divisions who do not meet the minimum standards recommended by the Research Councils will not be eligible for funding.

10.14.4          Ideally, it is hoped that postgraduate research students will eventually have access to the same facilities and working conditions as junior contract research staff (Research Fellows and Research Assistants) and will gradually be absorbed into and contribute towards the research culture of the division. Over time, it is hoped that these guidelines can be amended to refer to facilities for all research staff, without any major distinction between the status of research students and staff.

10.14.5          The guidelines focus on the following areas:-

  • induction and administration
  • academic facilities
  • social welfare provision
  • representation
  • training

10.14.6          Please note that throughout this document, the abbreviation PGR is used to denote Postgraduate Research Student. These guidelines should be read in conjunction with the University's current guidelines for the supervision of research students (see above).

 

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