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Progress Monitoring

The University requires us to have a procedure for monitoring your progress, to identify any problems, to suggest solutions and to make decisions about your registration. Please note carefully the following points:

  • Monitoring is compulsory for all research students. Any student who does not follow the College procedure may find their registration terminated.
  • You will only be allowed to proceed in your degree and to continue your registration if you receive satisfactory reports on your progress.
  • Progress monitoring provides an opportunity for you to reflect on your own progress and to raise any problems that you feel may be affecting your work.

 University policy on monitoring states that the purposes of monitoring are:

  • to assess student progress in order to give feedback to the student and to assist in making formal decisions about registration.
  • to monitor the nature and frequency of research supervision and other facilities offered to postgraduate research students.
  • to assist the University in ensuring parity of provision and treatment for students across the University.
  • to identify problems either in a student's programme of study or in the student-supervisor relationship.
  • to identify weak students who may be asked to de-register. 

Please refer to the TQA Chapter 5 - Periods of registration and changes to registration status for graduate research students programmes and in particular, “section 9: Upgrade of Students from MPhil to Doctoral Study” for the detail about the upgrade policies. Below is some guidance for staff and students about the arrangements for the upgrade. Please note that College practices may vary slightly, so you are encouraged to refer to your College Handbooks for specific requirements for your discipline.

As a part of the process of upgrade, your College Upgrade Committee will ‚Äčengage 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.

We now offer more flexibility in the format for upgrade vivas:

  • Virtual viva: where every attendee uses an online platform to attend the viva – no two attendees are in the same room
  • Blended viva*: where at least one attendee joins by video link, but two or more attendees are in the same room
  • In-person viva*: where all attendees are in the same room and there are no remote attendees

*Please note that blended and in-person upgrade vivas require attendees to adhere to the University’s Covid Guidance, and may not be offered if government guidance on social distancing and travel change.

When you are preparing to submit your upgrade documents, you are encouraged to discuss your preferred format of attendance for the viva with your DPGR or upgrade assessment panel.  Whilst we will do our best to accommodate your preferences, there may be circumstances where one or more attendee must participate remotely. It is expected that decisions about attendance at the upgrade viva will be made in the contact of the University’s ‘Green Restart’ and with particular regard to prioritising low-carbon solutions such as video link as opposed to travelling to campus.

In order to agree that an examination may proceed with a virtual or blended viva, your College DPGR needs to:

  • make sure that it is feasible for all participants to proceed in the proposed format, which includes 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.

We're aware that circumstances can change: even if appropriate arrangements are in place for your viva to proceed, please do get in touch with your PGR support team if you have concerns that this will no longer be feasible for you.

You may find sources of support open to you including the PGR Support Team, Wellbeing Services and Spectrum Life.

Read about the experiences of some of our past students who have completed their upgrade through the Doctoral College Blog:

In accordance with the Unsatisfactory Student Progress and Engagement procedure, it is required that all students are to be in attendance during academic terms, to attend all key contact points, to submit work when required and to fulfil the academic requirements of their programme of study as stipulated by the College. Unsatisfactory progress is usually identified when a student has not met these requirements, and in addition for International Tier 4 students where the monitoring of attendance is concerned in line with current Home Office guidance, as mentioned in the Student Attendance section of this handbook.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, where there are concerns about a student’s engagement and/or progress the Doctoral College has implemented a temporary policy of issuing students with a ‘progress check’ email which will outline any supervisor concerns and a series of targets appropriate to a student’s research and circumstances. In instances where a direct referral to HWSS is required this may be instigated instead of a progress check. This is to ensure students remain well placed to successfully complete their programme of study and as such make them aware of any concerns arising with regard to their engagement and/or progress, whilst directing them towards sources of support.   

Staff: Please see- Progress Check Process

There are four formal stages for dealing with unsatisfactory progress, as detailed in our TQA Chapter 15 - Unsatisfactory Student Progress and Engagement.

At all stages Colleges should direct students towards Student Support Services to address any problems that you may have that has contributed towards the concerns of your performance or attendance.

You may also contact the Guild or the SU, for advice should you wish to discuss your warning with someone outside of the College.