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PGR Programmes

This page provides information regarding the development of PGR programmes. In all cases listed below, the Quality and Standards team will ensure the relevant University contact is notified during the processes below, to ensure each stage of set up occurs, once approved, e.g., Admissions, Student Records and Marketing, etc. There are a few routes by which programmes are established or amended.

All completed forms and queries, including those about the contents of this page, should be directed to

Last updated August 2022

Three forms may be utilised, descriptions of when each form should be used are provided below. 

1. For the establishment of a new title for a non-taught PGR programme, please contact‌, accompanied by a clear rationale stating why the new title is suitable and demonstrating a compelling reason why the additional title is needed. If the rationale is accepted, you will need to complete a PGR New Programme form.‌ This form is used to provide the necessary details to set up the programme and ensure it can be appropriately advertised, and that students can register for the programme. Appropriate approvals are listed on the form. It is important that marketing materials accord with programmes advertised on the PG Study Site.

2. To offer existing non-taught PGR programme titles on a new variant please complete the PGR Variant form. This may include a variant of a distance-learning/full-time/part-time basis, or the set up of a variant at another campus (e.g. a Cornwall variant), or discipline/department

3. For amendments to existing non-taught PGR programmes, please first contact, providing the title of the programme, and an outline of the changes you wish to make. Once PGR QST has reviewed your request, this type of change will usually use a PGR Variant form and they will help you to fill out the form.

4. To withdraw an existing non-taught PGR programme title complete the ‌PGR Withdrawal form. Programme withdrawals are an OfS reportable event. This form includes sections that:

  • request a rationale for withdrawal;
  • ask what steps have been taken to notify significant others (Partner Institutions, International office, PGR Liaison Forum, etc.) and;
  • ask what arrangements are in place to ensure that all students currently on the programme are provided with an appropriate research environment despite the withdrawal of the programme

5. For the establishment of new non-taught PGR awards, where an award is currently not offered by the University, the Board of Graduate Research will need to approve Regulations for the award before students can be registered on it. To check if an award is offered by the University, see the Regulations. To discuss the establishment of a new award please contact

6. For the establishment of a new type of non-taught PGR programme/s, please see guidance regarding the Masters by Research programme or a by publication programme

7. For Registration of Visiting/ OAS (Other Advanced Studies) Students please ensure the Visiting Students Policy is followed and only existing programme titles are used.

Please send your forms to

e.g., EngD, DClinPsy, DClinRes, etc. (Taught PGR Programmes):

For the establishment of a new credit-rated programme or any change to an existing credit-rate programme, you will need to fill out a 

 Further guidance is found below. Queries should be directed to

1. Establishment of a credit-rated programme

2. Amendment of a credit-rated programme This can include changes to the programme title, module names, exit awards, etc.

3. Withdrawal of a credit-rated programme

For the establishment of a new Professional Doctorate, where an award is currently not offered by the University, the Education Board, and PGR Board will need to approve Regulations for the award before students can be registered on it. To check if an award is offered by the University, see the Regulations. To discuss the establishment of a new award please contact


Approvals for PGR programmes may differ from those stated on the web pages above. The following substitutions, or in some cases additions, are made:

  • Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education > Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Impact. (The Faculty Director of PGR (DPGR) and Department Directors of PGR (DDPGR) may also be included).
  • Dean for Taught Students > Dean of Graduate Research.
  • Director of Education and Student Experience > DPGR/DDPGR, as appropriate to the level of change. 
  • Education Board > Board of Graduate Research.

At its 30 June 2008 meeting Senate approved the introduction of a Masters by Research programme. This programme has now been incorporated in the University’s Regulations and TQA Manual. In their scrutiny of it the Postgraduate Faculty Board (now stood down) noted that:

The Masters by Research degree programme is aimed at those, in particular international candidates, who want a qualification with a significant research element but who are not necessarily planning to progress to doctoral study.

For more information see the paper which went to Education Committee (now stood down) proposing the introduction of a Masters by Research: TEC/08/33 Master by Research.

Colleges should note that in order to offer the Masters by Research programme, you must fill in the form available for download from the general Programme Development page. Any Masters by Research which are being offered with a title already in use for MPhil/PhD programmes do not require specific approval.

Programme Setup

Is an MbyRes offered in my subject?

The MbyRes programme hasn’t been established in all subject areas and is set up on request. Those subjects which offer an MbyRes are clearly identified on the prospectus pages: check your subject on the research degree index for further details if you are unsure.

How do I setup an MbyRes?

The process for establishing an MbyRes programme is simple; providing the establishment of this programme is supported in your College, then you should talk to the PGR Quality and Standards Team with regards to the completion of a MbyRes, which provides the necessary details to setup the programme on SITS, allowing advertisement of and registration to the programme. See the programme development page for more details.


Explaining the MbyRes

What level of award is the MbyRes?

The MbyRes is a Masters level award: it is awarded at the same level as the MPhil and the MSc, which is FHEQ level 7. The learning outcomes for the award are set out in the Regulations:

In assessing the dissertation, the examiners will require:  

(a)  evidence that it extends the knowledge of the subject

(b)  evidence of the candidate's ability to relate the subject matter of the dissertation to the existing body of knowledge within the field

(c)  a satisfactory level of literary presentation

What is the difference between an MbyRes and an MRes?

The MbyRes stands for either Master of Arts by Research or Master of Science by Research. This Masters is awarded on the basis of a piece of original research alone, therefore it is akin to the PhD, albeit at level 7 and with a dissertation size of 40,000 words. It sits within the Faculty of Graduate Research and procedures applicable to the MPhil and PhD are applicable to the MbyRes.

The MRes stands for Master of Research. This Masters is credit bearing and awarded on the basis of completion of at least 180 credits worth of taught modules. It sits within the Faculty of Taught Programmes and procedures applicable to other taught Masters programmes are applicable to the MRes.

The simple answer is that the MRes is a preparatory programme providing research training whilst the MbyRes is a Masters awarded for doing research.

What is the difference between the MbyRes and the MPhil?

Both awards sit at the same level (FHEQ level 7) and are awarded on confirmation of having successfully met the same set of outcomes. The primary difference is in the breadth of research: the MbyRes has a maximum word limit of 40,000 words whilst the MPhil has a limit of 60,000 words. Therefore, whilst it is possible to transfer between the MbyRes and the MPhil prior to submission, a Board of Examiners may not make a recommendation to award the candidate of an unsuccessful MPhil an MbyRes.

Who is the MbyRes designed for?

The MbyRes is not restrictive in terms of audience, however the primary motivation behind its establishment was to provide a programme for those, in particular international candidates, who wanted a qualification with a significant research element but who were not necessarily planning to progress to doctoral study. For example, this might apply to those who might not be able to take the time necessary to complete a longer research programme such as the PhD, e.g. candidates who are currently working and who may only be able to take a limited time away from their job (perhaps sponsored by their employer), and/or who have only access to a limited pool of funding (i.e. very short term studentships).

The programme may also be useful for candidates that a department thinks may have promise but who do not initially appear suitable for entrance to the PhD. Candidates can not apply to upgrade to doctoral study, but may apply to transfer programme to either a doctoral programme or to an MPhil, on programmes where it is normal practice to require candidates to register for an MPhil/PhD programme. MbyRes students who transfer to an MPhil may still be required to undertake an upgrade process from MPhil to PhD.

Programme Details

What does a candidate have to submit for the award of an MbyRes?

The MbyRes is assessed by a dissertation. The maximum length of the dissertation is 40,000 words. The MbyRes is governed by the ‘Presentation of Theses/Dissertations for Degrees in the Faculty of Graduate Research: Statement of Procedures’, and therefore the guidance on the inclusion of previously published papers and alternative forms of submission also applies to the MbyRes.

Is there an MbyRes by publication?

In common with other research degrees it is possible to apply to the University with an existing body of publications for the award of a by publication degree. The Regulations for the MbyRes by publication provide further details.

What is the period of study for the MbyRes?

Please see the Statement of Procedures: Periods of registration and changes to registration status for graduate research students for entrants from the academic year 2019-20

Are candidates registered on the MbyRes appointed a supervisor?

Yes, the MbyRes is a research degree and as such the same requirements with regard to the appointment of supervisors and mentors apply to this programme. From October 2011 MbyRes candidates will also be able to keep track of their progress via MyPGR.

The PhD/MPhil/MbyRes by Publication have been introduced as part of the Graduate Research Faculty Board: Strategic Plan 2008-2011‌. The University offers the opportunity for staff members to complete a degree via this route, as well as for external applicants to apply to do so.

The Faculty Board paper, of June 2009, outlining this can be found here.

For further information please see the following regulations:

Regulations Governing the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy by Publication

Regulations Governing the Degree of Master of Philosophy by Publication

Regulations Governing the Degree of Master of Arts by Research and Master of Science by Research by Publication

The PhD by Publication is referenced for applicants on the Research Degrees page of the Postgraduate Study Pages.

Further guidance is also provided with regard to the submission of by publication degrees in section 2.2 of the Presentation of Theses/Dissertations for the Degrees of MPhil/PhD/EdD/DEdPsy/DClinPsy/MbyRes: Statement of Procedures.

Inclusion of publications in the work of currently registered PGR students

Students who are registered on other graduate research programmes may also be able to include publications within their thesis, so long as these have been written during the course of their registration. For more information see section 2.2 of the Presentation of Theses/Dissertations for the Degrees of MPhil/PhD/EdD/DEdPsy/DClinPsy/MbyRes: Statement of Procedures.

Process for applications for MbyRes, MPhil and PhD by Publication

  • All enquiries will be passed to the College who should advise prospective applicants whether they are eligible for the 'by Publication' route.
  • Students will normally apply for the standard programme, eg, PhD in Finance, MPhil in Geography, MbyRes in Politics and they should include information that they wish to do the degree 'by Publication'.
  • The College will consider if the applicant is suitable and if so mark the Decision Form clearly 'BY PUBLICATION'.
  • The decision form should then be forwarded to the Admissions Office.
  • The Admissions and Registry Offices will ensure that the programme details are set up on SITS, that the Fees office is informed and that a offer letter is sent.
  • Once the fees are set up and the Admissions Office has been informed, applicants who are ready to register can then be transferred.

Due to the importance of establishing the suitability of applicants for this route, applicants should be advised to contact potential supervisors or research group leaders with details of their publications and academic qualifications. Applicants with a suitable history of publications would then be asked to submit a formal application.

Students who are considering presenting their thesis in a non-standard format are advised to refer to the guidance in the PGR Handbook: Thesis by Alternative Format