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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


First year registration exercise

New PhD students are required to complete a formal PhD registration exercise before the end of the Easter Term of their first year of study (or second year for a part-time student or where the Student Registry has approved a different time-frame), to determine whether or not they should be registered for the PhD degree and be permitted to continue work on their thesis. Part-time PhD students should have an annual review but supervisors can consider whether is appropriate to invite other advisors to each one.

The PhD registration exercise is an examination that aims to provide advice and constructive criticism to students about their PhD project based on a formal discussion which sets out to establish the feasibility of the research topic, timetable proposed, approach being used and progress to date. The exercise will be carried out by two assessors, neither of whom should be the student's supervisor or co-supervisor (if appointed). The student's advisor may be an assessor as long as there is no potential for a conflict of interest.

Shortly before the registration exercise, students are required to submit the following documents to the assessors for discussion at the meeting:

  • A piece of written work (approx 10,000 words) that will form part of the thesis – typically a good draft of a chapter
  • A thesis plan
  • The form with Part 1 completed
  • An up-to-date PhD progress log

The registration meeting is attended by two assessors and the PhD student. The supervisor may be invited to attend but will not be formally involved in the assessors' decision on whether or not to recommend registration for the PhD. The supervisor will report separately on the student's progress and make his or her own recommendation via a 'registration report' submitted through the Postgraduate Feedback and Reporting System (PFRS).

The result of the registration exercise should be shared with the student and supervisor(s) as soon as possible, with the clear proviso that it is subject to approval by the Degree Committee.  The Degree Committee will consider the assessors' reports together with the supervisor's recommendation and make one of the following recommendations to the Student Registry:

  1. Registered for the PhD; or
  2. Registered for a lower degree (e.g. MLitt or MPhil) and/or be offered a further assessment for the purposes of reviewing your status. If offered, this assessment will be completed before the submission of your thesis for examination for the lower degree or certificate; or
  3. Allowed to revise and resubmit the registration documents after a defined period for a second progress examination; or
  4. Removed permanently from the Register of Graduate Students and not be permitted to continue to study.

Timetable: New PhD students will be informed of the requirements of the first year registration exercise at their induction meeting in October. Students and supervisors will be reminded of the process and asked to nominate assessors at the start of Lent Term. The exercise must be complete by the last day of Easter Full Term (usually mid-June) and reports (including the supervisor's report) and recommendations submitted to the Degree Committee for consideration at the last meeting of the academic year (late June/early July).

Form for the PhD registration exercise

Annual review (years 2 and 3)

At the end of each year you will need to submit the following to be read by your supervisor and advisor:

  • A substantial piece of work (approx 10,000 words) that will form part of the thesis – typically a good draft of a chapter
  • A thesis plan
  • The form with Part 1 completed
  • An updated PhD progress log

Your supervisor and advisor will then hold a meeting with you to discuss your work. Following this meeting, they will write a report on your progress. Their report should be submitted to the Degree Committee in time for the last Degree Committee meeting of the year (usually late June or early July).

The main purpose of the annual review is to ensure you are making good progress with your PhD; it should also be used to identify any training requirements you may have, to keep you on target to submit within four years, and to highlight any problems that might prevent you from doing so. If satisfactory progress has not been made an action plan will be drawn up and a further meeting will be arranged.

If you are in receipt of an AHRC award or the equivalent, your supervisor must report to the funding agency by the end of June each year. The AHRC will not renew an award for the next academic year until the report has been submitted and assessed.

Feedback form for the PhD annual review