PGR FAQs

questions

Questions about the research degree programme

Below is a summary of Frequently Asked Questions about the various stages of the research degree programme. You should refer to your school's Postgraduate Research Degree Handbook for full details of the regulations and expectations governing your programme of study at the University.

Getting Started

How (and when) do I register?

What is my Supervisory Team?

What will my supervisory team expect from me?

What can I expect from my main supervisor?

What can I expect from my co-supervisor?

What is the University Policy on supervision sessions?

What are the requirements for Tier 4 sponsored students?

MPhil/PhD Progression

What are the PhD Progression Points?

What is the Learning Agreement?

What is the Self-Evaluation Report?

What is the Annual Report?

What is the Interim Assessment?

What is the Internal Evaluation?

Should I go into 'Completion Phase'?

What should I do if I need to interrupt my studies?

What happens if I think I need an extension of candidature?

What do I do if I have a complaint?

Submitting your Thesis

What do I need to submit?

How long should my thesis be?

What referencing system should I use?

What is the University's policy on plagarism?

Should I get my thesis proof read?

How (and where) can I get my thesis bound?

Can I submit an e-thesis?

What is a moratorium form and do I need to complete one?

The Viva

What will my final Viva Voce be like?

What are the potential outcomes of the Viva? What can the examiners recommend?

How are examiners selected?

What happens if I am ill or have other mitigating circumstances on the day of my viva?

Useful Information

How do I forward University messages to my own personal email account?

 


How (and when) do I register?

Students initially register here on 1 October, 1 January, 1 April or 1 July and then again on the same date in each subsequent years, to the end of the minimum period.

As an MPhil/PhD student you are required to re-enrol annually in line with your start date.
The maximum period of study is calculated from the date of initial registration. So, for example, you may have registered to start your PhD full-time on 1st April 2013, in which case your second year would begin on 1st April 2014 and your third on 1st April 2015. However, regardless of when you began your candidature, you still need to re-enrol at the start of the academic year (September). To re-register online, simply follow the steps outlined here.
If you are on “writing up” period you need to register as such or you will incur additional fees. 

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What is my supervisory team?

 All PGR students are allocated a ‘supervisory team’ consisting of a main supervisor and co-supervisor. Sometimes, if a project extends beyond a main supervisor’s area of expertise or straddles two different disciplines, the supervisory team may include an additional specialist supervisor. If this is the case, the main supervisor will take the lead role within the team.

The supervisory team is appointed by the School Research and Enterprise Committee (SREC) on recommendation from the discipline(s) when a student is accepted onto a programme of study.
The School will allocate each student with a Personal Tutor, whose responsibility will be to provide pastoral guidance to the candidate.

Where a student is working away from the University, it is normal to appoint an ‘adviser’ to act as a local supervisor. However the appointed supervisor on the University staff remains formally responsible for the supervision of the student.

Supervisors must be appointed for Academic Staff, Research Fellows. Co-supervisors and Personal Tutors are not appointed.

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What will my supervisory team expect from me?

The University views its PGR students as independent researchers, who lead on their own research, but are guided as necessary by their supervisor and their supervisory team. The ultimate responsibility for the thesis lies with you and it is vital that you participate fully in the planning and completion of the research project.

For more details, see your School PGR Handbook.

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What can I expect from my main supervisor?

Your main supervisor is responsible for facilitating your academic progress. They will provide you with the guidance and help that you need to complete your research project successfully within the time period allowed.

For more details, see your School PGR Handbook

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What can I expect from my co-supervisor?

Your co-supervisor is responsible, in academic and supervision terms, for your degree; therefore your co-supervisor will fulfil all the roles of a main supervisor. You should work with your main supervisor and co-supervisor to reach a supervision arrangement which suits you all. The amount of input a co-supervisor has into your supervision may vary during the period of candidature and alter with the focus of your research; it may be necessary to review the supervision arrangements at key points.

For more details, see your School PGR Handbook

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What is the University policy on supervision sessions?

The University requires that as a PGR student you have a minimum of 12 documented formal meetings a year with your main supervisor if you are full-time and an agreed pro-rata equivalent if you are part-time or split site.

It is a requirement that in the majority of instances these meetings are face to face. Only in exceptional circumstances e.g. where a student is on a field trip, can Blackboard Collaborations or a substantial telephone conversation be classed as a supervision meeting.

During the first year of candidature meetings should be more regular, to ensure that you are making progress and to deal with any problems that might arise at the start of enrolment. The first 3 months you should meet each month; the focus of these first 3 monthly meetings being on your Learning Agreement; which must be submitted by month 3. You should work together with your supervisor to agree on a mutually acceptable programme of supervision at the initial supervision session.
Remember, it is your responsibility to record formal supervision sessions. The Research Supervision Record Form can be found on the 'What Documents do I Need?' web page.

Informal meetings with your supervisor/supervisory team, contact by telephone or e-mail, should be continued throughout the period of candidature.  

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What are the requirements for Tier 4 sponsored students?

It is a requirement of the Home Office that all Tier 4 sponsored students must be monitored for attendance and participation with studies. Therefore, for Home Office purposes you will have at least one formal supervision session each month which will be recorded on the Research Supervision Record Form, which can be found on the 'What Documents Do I Need?' web page. After each session you must submit a copy of a completed form, signed by you and your supervisor, to the Salford Advantage system by no later than the 1st Sunday of the following month.
Non-compliance with this requirement will result in the cancellation of registration. Students will then be reported to the Home Office. This action will result in the curtailment of the student’s leave to remain in the UK.

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MPhil/PhD Milestones

 

What are PhD Progression Points?

There are various Progression Points to complete during your research degree. For full details see the Postgraduate Research Lifecycle page. These include a Learning Agreement, Interim Assessment and Internal Evaluation. At the end of each registered year, students complete a Self-Evaluation Report, and supervisors complete an Annual Progress Report.

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What is the Learning Agreement?

The Learning Agreement will be the focus of your first two supervision sessions and must be completed and submitted within the first 3 months of your candidature (this is the case for both part-time and full-time students). This is not a static document and should be reviewed regularly and updated annually, with your supervisor. The form can be downloaded from the 'What Documents do I Need?' web page.
Training sessions on completing your Learning Agreement occur throughout the year.

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What is the Self Evaluation Report?

All students should complete a Self-Evaluation Report at the end of each registered year. This report enables you to reflect upon your progress on an annual basis, as well as reporting on supervisory and facilities arrangements. The report goes to the PGR Support Team who will note any issues arising from the evaluation, so that they can addressed in an appropriate way.

Completion of the Self Evaluation is compulsory. It is important for students to reflect on a regular basis on their own progress, as it gives the opportunity to ‘stand back’ from the detail of the doctoral research and assess the extent to which this is progressing in a coherent and focused manner. In comparing progress with the predicted progress set out in the Learning Agreement, you can provide a considered statement of how and where the research is going, and identify any problem areas, potential or actual.

Equally, the Self-Evaluation Report is an opportunity to comment upon supervisory support and Research Centre facilities. It is important that students provide an honest appraisal in order for us to be in a position to respond to any issues and to continually review and enhance the student experience. The Self Evaluation Report form is available from the 'What Documents do I Need?' web page. 

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What is the Annual Report?

Supervisors complete an annual report on each of the students they supervise. They provide a summary of progress to date, any issues arising, research training requirements, and overall position of the student in the lifecycle. As with the self-evaluation report, the APR is compulsory and considered by the PGR Support Team for noting any issues. The Annual Progress Report form is available from the 'What Documents do I Need?' web page. 

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What is the Interim Assessment?

The interim assessment is the first formal point along the MPhil/PhD and DProf (research component) programmes where the progression of the student is assessed by independent experts and a decision is made as to whether the student should continue or transfer their studies to a higher or lower award.

The interim assessment takes place between months 9 and 11 for full time students, or months 15 and 20 if you are part time. This timeframe ensures that should you need to repeat your assessment, you have time to do so before your deadline for registration for the following year. Please note that you must submit your report within this timeframe: if you do not this will be deemed a failed attempt.

For students registered on the MPhil programme the interim assessment provides an opportunity to transfer to the higher award PhD programme. For existing PhD/DProf students the assessment determines whether students continue on the PhD/DProf programme or are recommended to be transferred to a lower award.

As a PGR student, you will be required to present a short paper about your research project describing your progress and plans for the future, you will also attend an oral examination. It is your responsibility to ensure your paper is your own original work. You are strongly encouraged to consider using ‘Turnitin’ (the University’s anti plagiarism software), following the ‘originality check’ link: http://www.salford.ac.uk/library/help/blackboard-and-collaborate#tab_eassessment.

If your research requires Ethics Approval you must present your approval letter alongside your report. Candidates who do not present proof of Ethics Approval will automatically fail their assessment.

A Guide to Interim Assessment and the documentation you require can be found here (Oct 2016 v2). 

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What is the Internal Evaluation?

The Internal Evaluation is the second formal point along the PhD and DProf (research component) programmes where the progression of the student is assessed by independent experts and a decision is made as to whether the student should continue on their programme or transfer to a programme with a lower award (MPhil).

Your Internal Evaluation (IE) will take place between months 21 and 23 of your candidature if you are a full time student, months 35 and 40 if you are part time, or months 50 and 55 of a Professional Doctorate. This timeframe ensures you are able to repeat, should it be required, before your deadline for registration for the following year. Please note that you must submit your report within this timeframe: if you do not this will be deemed a failed attempt.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you present your own original work. You are strongly encouraged to consider using ‘Turnitin’ (the University’s anti plagiarism software), following the ‘originality check’ link: http://www.salford.ac.uk/library/help/blackboard-and-collaborate#tab_eassessment

The evaluation of a student’s progress is important at this juncture to determine whether the student has developed their research to a sufficient standard that will lead to a PhD/DProf award. Where progress is sub-standard (and would not achieve the level of the higher PhD or lower MPhil award) the Internal Evaluation panel have the authority to recommend termination of a student’s candidature.

If your research requires Ethics Approval you must present your approval letter alongside your report. Candidates who do not present proof of Ethics Approval will automatically fail their evaluation.

A Guide to Internal Evaluation and the documentation you require can be found here (Oct 2016 v3).

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Should I go in to 'Completion Phase'?

When you are in the final stages of writing your PhD, you should register for ‘completion’. Your supervisor must confirm that you have completed two years of study as a full-time candidate or three years as a part-time candidate, that you have upgraded from MPhil to PhD and that your research is substantially complete. Full time students are permitted one year (2 years for part time students) within which to complete their thesis AND have their thesis examined and the award ratified.

Please note:
1. Candidates retain access to library and computing facilities until their thesis is examined and, where appropriate, any revisions requested by the examiners have been made. Access to other facilities (e.g. office space) may be extended at the discretion of the School.
2. With support from the supervisor, a candidate may, in exceptional circumstances apply in writing to extend the period of nominal registration beyond twelve months. 
3. Writing up periods count towards the maximum period (48 or 84 months) of candidature.

But be aware: your submission deadline still stands, you have no formal entitlement to supervision and access to some University facilities may be denied. You should discuss the writing up option with your supervisor before making your decision.

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What should I do if I need to interrupt my studies?

Because we cannot predict every eventuality, the University allows an ‘interruption of candidature’ – a brief time away from researching when you are not asked to pay fees and you are not entitled to any supervision. In general, interruptions are allowed in extenuating circumstances (e.g. illness, family crisis) but will not be granted as a matter of course; nor will they be approved retrospectively. You should be interrupting only for short periods of time, specified at the start wherever possible.

In order to apply to interrupt, you must talk to your supervisor, who will assist you in making the right decision. If your supervisor thinks that you should interrupt, there will be some paperwork to fill in. This will be done by you; your supervisor will countersign the form to verify that they are aware of your application.

Where interruption is agreed for medical reasons, the School may require you to provide medical certification of fitness to return to study before allowing re-enrolment to occur. You may apply to extend a period of interruption for further periods of up to twelve months at a time; however, interruptions covering periods greater than 24 months continuously will normally be granted only under the most exceptional circumstances. If you are unable or unwilling to return to study after 24 months you may be recommended for termination of programme.

Please note

  • In the case of Research Council-funded candidates, due regard will be given to Research Council rules governing suspension
  • Periods of temporary interruption do not count towards the maximum period of study
  • Interrupted students should not receive supervision, and normally should not have access to services. However, if the School judges that there is a need, students may be granted a suspension with privileges which will allow limited access to services. This is particularly useful for returning students (those who have been on a long period of suspension for personal reasons and need time to return to their research) and those on maternity leave.

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What happens if I think I need an extension of candidature?

The maximum periods of candidature (i.e. minimum periods of study plus the completion phase) should be strictly adhered to. Extensions of candidature beyond the maximum period of time are not normally granted. It will be granted only in exceptional circumstances, generally:

  • where there is an unforeseen and serious case that hindered a student’s progress beyond the student’s control and over a period of time substantial enough to prevent completion within the minimum period of study plus the completion phase,
  • on specific application by the candidate, accompanied by a written justification and substantiated by independent documentary evidence,  and supported by your supervisory team,
  • if application is made before candidature is due to expire

If you think that you will be unable to complete your thesis in the allotted time, take the initiative and raise any concerns with your supervisory team as early as possible. Remember: your supervisor and the School are here to help you, but you must tell them if you have a problem, since they will not know unless you say. 

Students applying for an extension must do so 6 months before the expiration of their candidature. Any candidates who apply later will only be considered for extension if the cause has occurred very recently, i.e. within those six months. 

For international students, an extension taking your candidature beyond the end date of your visa will not be possible.

A Request for Extension of Candidature must be completed; this is available from the 'What Documents do I Need?' web page.

More information about extension of candidature is available in your PGR Handbook.

Please note: If you are non EEA national with time limited leave to remain and you need an Extension and studying a programme that requires ATAS  you will need to provide a valid in date ATAS to enable us to process your extension even if you did not need one previously. This is due to a Home Office  rule change that is now in effect.

If you are not sure if your leave to remain in the UK requires you to have an ATAS please email Salford-atas@salford.ac.uk

For more information please visit ATAS section of the following web page http://www.salford.ac.uk/askus/immigration-visas/resources-and-guides

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What do I do if I have a complaint?

Governance Services Unit have developed a comprehensive Complaints Procedure which can be downloaded from the Quality & Enhancement Office web pages.

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Submitting your Thesis

 

What do I need to submit?

A Guide to the Production, Submission and Examination of your Postgraduate Thesis for students can be found here (Oct 2016 v2).

As a PGR student, the decision to submit the thesis must be your own. You should take note of supervision advice but this advice should not be taken as an indication that the final thesis will fulfil the requirements of the examiners.

You must inform your supervisor of your intention to submit no later than two months prior to the date of submission in order to allow adequate time for examination arrangements to be made.

You should complete the ‘Notice of Intention to Submit a Research Thesis’ which is available here.

Prior to your Viva Voce examination you will need to submit three soft-bound copies of your PhD thesis to Student Administration. You should also have a copy bound for yourself so that you can take it into the Viva Voce with you. It is recommended that these initial copies are soft-bound so that if, as is likely, you need to make corrections to your text you can have the soft-bound volumes taken apart and hard-bound with your new, corrected pages.

You should also complete a Declaration of Originality form when you submit your soft-bound copies. The form is available here.

It is your responsibility to ensure your thesis is your own original work. You are strongly encouraged to consider using ‘Turnitin’ (the University’s anti plagiarism software), following the ‘originality check’ link: http://www.salford.ac.uk/library/help/blackboard-and-collaborate#tab_eassessment

 

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How long should my thesis be?

The maximum length of a thesis for PhD is normally 100,000 words for a PhD, 50,000 words for an MPhil, or 40,000 - 60,000 words for a DProf, excluding references and bibliography, or equivalent in the case of non-text based submissions
Candidates who exceed the word limit will normally be required to resubmit. If you think that you cannot contain your research within the word limit you should speak to your supervisor at the earliest possible opportunity. Please note that word-limit extensions will only be granted in highly exceptional circumstances.

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What referencing system should I use?

The University does not recommend a particular referencing system for postgraduate research, as the varied subjects require different approaches. You should think carefully about what will work best for you and your reader – footnotes, endnotes, in-text – and discuss the referencing of your thesis with your supervisor.
Once you have agreed upon a system appropriate to your discipline make sure that you use it consistently throughout your thesis.

You can find more information about referencing on the University's Information Literacy webpages.

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What is the University's policy on plagarism?

The University takes a serious view of all acts of academic misconduct. Such acts are considered dishonest and as attempts to gain unfair advantage.

Plagiarism involves taking the work of another person or source and using it as if it were one’s own. The source of the original material is hidden from the marker by not referencing it properly or by paraphrasing it without acknowledgement or by not mentioning it at all. Work includes, but is not restricted to, written work, ideas, musical compositions, computer programs, laboratory or survey results, diagrams, graphs, drawings and designs. Plagiarism may occur in all forms of assessment, including written examinations.

It is your responsibility to ensure that your thesis is your own original work. You are strongly encouraged to consider using ‘Turnitin’ (the University’s anti plagiarism software), following the ‘originality check’ link: http://www.salford.ac.uk/library/help/blackboard-and-collaborate#tab_eassessment.

The Library produces many helpful resources for students on referencing and plagiarism, including video guides on using Turnitin.

All cases of suspected academic misconduct must be reported to the Dean of School (or nominee). The Dean of School (or nominee) has responsibility for preliminary consideration of such cases. In determining whether there is a case to answer the Dean of School (or nominee) should refer to the guidance in Appendix A of the Academic Misconduct Procedure, available from the Quality Enhancement Office website.

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Should I get my thesis proof read?

You should ensure that your thesis demonstrates a high standard of proof-reading and copy editing. You will therefore need to check your thesis for accuracy, paying attention to spelling, grammar and sentence structure. You will also need to double-check layout, references, cross-references and numbering. It is not always easy to see errors within your own work and your supervisor is not expected to edit or proof-read your thesis. The cheap option is to persuade a fellow student/colleague to check through your thesis; but be prepared to do the same in return! However, your supervisor may recommend that your thesis is professionally proof-read or edited.

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How (and where) can I get my thesis bound?

You can get your thesis printed and bound at T Walker and Company; situated in Technology House.

Walker’s are open between 9.00 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday to Friday and will print and bind your thesis to the University’s specifications.

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Can I submit an e-thesis?

All students are required to deposit an electronic copy of their final thesis in the University of Salford’s Institutional Repository (USIR), as well as their 2 hardbound copies to AskUs. Making research theses openly accessible through USIR aims to make them more discoverable and easier to access. The new system will therefore allow researchers to disseminate their scholarly work to a wider audience to the benefit of the University and themselves, as well as the wider research community.

By having a digital version openly accessible online, and readily searchable through Google and other search engines, the visibility of a researcher is greatly enhanced. The Library have created a helpful e-thesis guide which includes all the information you need.

http://usir.salford.ac.uk/etheses/

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What is a moratorium form and do I need to complete one?

If you have a valid reason for doing so, you can request a moratorium on your thesis. This means that access to your thesis via USIR will be restricted for 2 years. Once the moratorium period is over your thesis will be openly accessible, unless you contact The Library to extend it. To request a moratorium for your thesis you must complete and sign a form at the point of soft-bound submission, counter-signed by your supervisor. The form can be found on the 'What Documents Do I Need?' web page.

Valid reasons for requesting a moratorium on your work can be issues such as publisher's stipulations or industrial sensitivities. If you have any questions about whether to request a moratorium please discuss the process with your supervisor or contact the Salford’s Institutional Repository at usir@salford.ac.uk

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The Viva

 

What will my final Viva Voce be like?

As a PhD candidate, once you have submitted your thesis, you will be required to attend an oral examination called a Viva Voce. The examination will normally take place within two months of submission. Your supervisor will inform you early on of the arrangements.

Please note:

Your main supervisor will attend the Viva Voce unless you request otherwise. They cannot play an active role in the examination, but may act as a minute taker. Instead, questions will come from two examiners, an internal and an external.

Your examiners will have been chosen by your supervisor; one, if not both, will have experience of conducting final examinations and both will have experience and appropriate subject expertise to be able to examine your thesis effectively. The examiners will have had time to read your thesis thoroughly and their questions will be about what you have written, how you have conducted your research, if you are prepared to defend your arguments and possibly the direction that you see your work taking in the future.

Each viva is an individual experience and dependent upon your thesis and the thoughts of the examiners. It is important that you don’t panic about the viva, read through your work beforehand to re-familiarise yourself with it and talk to your Personal Tutor, your main supervisor or someone else who has experienced a Viva Voce about any concerns that you may have. Remember: the examiners are interested in what you have to say – treat the viva as a unique opportunity to talk about your work to a rapt audience, make the most of the experience.

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What are the potential outcomes of the Viva? What can the examiners recommend?

Examiners will recommend one of the following:
o That the degree be awarded, subject if necessary to ‘minor’ or ‘modest’ amendments being made to the thesis within a specified time (either one month or three months);
o That you be required to attend for a further oral examination;
o That you be permitted to submit, within twelve months, a revised thesis for the same degree for re-examination on a subsequent occasion;
o That for a PhD candidate you be given permission to apply for the degree of MPhil with or without re-examination;
o That no degree is awarded and resubmission is not permitted.

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How are examiners selected?

You submit your Notice of Presentation form to your supervisor, who informally contacts an external examiner.

On receipt of notice from the candidate of the intention to present a thesis, the School Research and Enterprise Committee appoints a Board of Examiners ensuring that all Examiners are appropriately qualified, in terms of knowledge and expertise relevant to the subject of the thesis, and independent.

The Board of Examiners comprises of at least two Examiners, one of whom will be external to the University. The internal member of the Board of Examiners will not have played any role in supervising the student.

If you are or have been a member of staff during your candidature, then the School Research and Enterprise Committee will appoint at least two external Examiners.

For the Award of Engineering Doctorate (EngD), in addition to the internal examiner, the School Research and Enterprise Committee will appoint two external Examiners, one being a technical specialist and one a business specialist. Where a candidate is to be examined orally, the PGR Support Team will appoint an Independent Chair to the Board of Examiners. This person will be a member of the University academic staff from a School different to that of the candidate.

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 What happens if I am ill or have other mitigating circumstances on the day of my viva?

If you are affected by mitigating circumstances on the day of your viva you should notify your supervisor or the PGR Support Team immediately as it may be possible to delay the assessment. By attending a viva, you would be declaring yourself ‘fit to sit’ the assessment and as such, you would be unable to submit a claim that your performance in the assessment had been adversely affected by mitigating circumstances. 

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 How do I forward University messages to my own personal email account? 

It’s so easy to forward University messages to your existing personal email account.

  1. Select Options, from within Office 365
  2. Select Account
  3. Select Connected Account
  4. Enter the address you want to forward University messages to, in the box headed ‘Forward my e-mail to’
  5. Click Start Forwarding
  6. Click on Save.

Further information is available at http://www.salford.ac.uk/library/help/user-guides/computing/Email-Students-Sept13-2.pdf

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