Temporary Policies due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) we have had to implement some temporary policies during this time. Below are the changes we have implemented, however please be aware we are continuing to update policies and once ready will be added to this page. 

Please note that aside from policies specified on this webpage the requirements set out in the TQA Manual and the Calendar should still be followed as normal unless an exception has been approved by the Dean of Faculty in writing. Exception requests must be sent to dcqualitydevelopment@exeter.ac.uk and are normally requested by the PGR Support Teams and put forward on the recommendation of the relevant College DPGR.

Under normal circumstances, the submission of assessed work in the taught faculty would be spread over a long period, allowing the recruitment and selection of postgraduate research students as part-time teaching assistants (PTAs), and the marking work they do, to be conducted over an extended period. As a large volume of assessed work will now be submitted at the same time, there is a need for a rapid allocation of additional PTA contracts. Below you can find a link to the temporary Employment of Postgraduate Research Students as Part-time Teaching Assistants. This policy will remain in effect until the end of June 2020, at which time it will be reviewed.

Policy Document:

These policies are not applicable to extensions to your overall period of study for your programme. Consult the FAQs for more information with regard to extensions. Students on professional doctorate programmes should consult their programme administrator in the first instance.

Students who first registered for their programme of study during the 19-20 academic year, who wish to apply for a deferral to a deadline related to upgrade from Mphil to Doctoral Study should read the information set out in part A below, in all other cases refer to the information set out in part B below.

A – Deferral of Upgrade for Entrants registering from the 2019-20 academic year – Temporary Policy in Response to Impact of Coronavirus Outbreak

Please read the policy carefully before completing the deferral form.

Students should ensure that are aware of all programme specific information related to how the upgrade process is being managed in their College, which may have been communicated to them via email.

If you are considering applying for a deferral please start the process of application as early as possible. Please contact the PGR Support Team if you have any questions.

B- Applications for Deferral of Internal Programme Deadlines – Temporary Policy in Response to Impact of Coronavirus Outbreak

Please read the policy carefully before completing the deferral form.

Students should ensure that are aware of all relevant programme specific information, which may have been communicated to them via email.

If you are considering applying for a deferral please start the process of application as early as possible. Please contact the PGR Support Team if you have any questions. 

The requirement to submit 2 hard copies of a thesis for the examination and a hard copy after corrections has been suspended until further notice. Please do not come onto campus to submit your thesis until further notice or send in physical copies of your thesis; our offices are currently closed and staff working from home. Electronic copies may now be submitted to PGR admin team who will be able advise on the process.
 
Email address: pgradmin@exeter.ac.uk.

Arrangements for Upgrade vivas via  a multi-way video-link (using MS Teams)

Students:

  • As a part of the process of upgrade from Mphil to doctoral study, your College Upgrade Committee will ​engage you in a verbal examination of your work, called a viva (from viva voce). 
  • ​We consider this an important milestone in your studies, providing you with the opportunity to explain your work to the committee and receive feedback. It is a process which will help you prepare for your final thesis examination.
  • Arrangements are being made for upgrade vivas to take place via a multi-way video-link (using MS Teams), to support students to continue with the their studies, where this is possible, ​whilst travel to our campuses is not possible.
  • Final thesis viva examinations are already being successfully carried out using this technology, and arrangements for upgrade vivas closely parallel those used for final viva voce examinations.  There is a useful entry on the Doctoral College blog from a student who undertook her upgrade viva remotely, which may be of interest for students who wish to hear from someone who has already undertaken an upgrade viva in this way.
  • A viva will not proceed in this way without your agreement, and if you have any concerns you may change your mind ​at any time prior to the viva.
  • ​College DPGRs are responsible for ensuring that upgrade vivas are conducted fairly and with minimal disruption. Approval to proceed in this way is normally given by your College PGR Support Manager or the Head of PGR Support. Before giving approval to proceed, they will need to:
    • make sure that all participants are willing and able to proceed in this way, and have appropriate communications technology access.  This must be satisfactorily tested in advance to minimise the likelihood of any disruptions to communications during the viva;
    • make sure that any necessary adjustments to the viva can still be made for students with an ILP.

If it is not possible to adjust arrangements to allow your viva to proceed in this way it will be delayed.

  • A member of the PGR Support team will contact you ahead of your viva date to check whether you are able to proceed in this way. This will give you the opportunity to ask any questions or raise any concerns with the PGR support team. 
  • The Chair of your College Upgrade Committee will have additional responsibilities that include determining whether to halt the viva if it is disrupted due to technological problems, and you should feel able to flag any issues you are having to them.
  • You will retain the option to make an application to defer your viva because  of coronavirus (COVID-19), however the implications of deferral will vary depending upon each student’s individual circumstances.  As such, it is important that you carefully consider your circumstances and the implications of deferral.  This may include reviewing any terms and conditions attached to studentship funding.
  • Even if you have received confirmation that appropriate arrangements are in place to allow your upgrade viva to proceed, you will retain the option to apply for deferral up until your viva date.
  • You may find reference to the wider Doctoral College Coronavirus (COVID-19) pages useful, as well as other sources of support open to you including the PGR Support team, Wellbeing Services and Pro-Counselling.

Policy:

Due to travel restrictions and social distancing measures introduced in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, it has been necessary to put in place a temporary policy on the conduct of multi-way vivas by electronic means. Below are some helpful documents which should explain the new policy and give some helpful tips on this new way of working. 

Students:

  • There is a temporary policy in place for the Doctoral College to allow viva voce examinations to take place via a multi-way video-link (using MS Teams), to support students to continue with the examination of their thesis, where this is possible. Please do not travel to our campuses for a viva examination until further notice. A viva will not proceed in this way without your agreement, and if you have any concerns you may change your mind prior to the viva;
  • In order to agree that an examination may proceed in this way your College DPGR needs to:
    • make sure that all participants are happy to proceed in this way, and have appropriate communications technology access, which must be satisfactorily tested in advance, to minimise the likelihood of any disruptions to communications in the viva;
    • If you have an ILP: make sure that any adjustments to the viva required can still be made.
  • In order to support examinations proceeding in this way, if a Non-Examining Independent Chair has not already been appointed for your examination, one will be appointed now. Their responsibilities will include determining whether to halt the viva if it is disrupted due to technological issues, and you should feel able to flag any issues you are having to them;
  • Each virtual viva also has a PGR Support contact helping to manage the arrangements for virtual vivas, and it will usually be this person who will get in contact with you to check whether you are able/wish to proceed in this way.
  • Reading this summary is not a substitute for reading the full Viva Temporary Policy
  • You may find reference to the wider Doctoral College Coronavirus (COVID-19) pages useful, as well as other sources of support open to you including the PGR Support Team, Wellbeing Services and Pro-Counselling.
  • Read all about Ahmad Alfaraj's experience of conducting a viva virtually on the Doctoral College blog.

Staff:

If you have any questions relating to the new viva process please contact your local PGR support team.