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 firstname.lastname@example.org and are normally requested by the PGR Support Teams and put forward on the recommendation of the relevant College DPGR.
This policy expired on 31st December 2020 and remains here for reference only.
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.
The purpose of the fee scholarship is to support self-funded students whose research was disrupted due to COVID-19 to apply for a fees scholarship to cover the cost of tuition fees for an (approved) extended period of study.
To be eligible for the fees scholarship you will need have been registered on your programme of study on/before 01 March 2020 and either:
- Wholly self-funded (i.e. you are and always have been responsible for meeting the cost of tuition yourself)
- Previously funded directly by an external sponsor (i.e. funding that is not administered by the University of Exeter) but that funding has expired and you are now responsible for meeting the cost of tuition yourself.
Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis fees scholarships of between 1 and 6 months. Applications will be reviewed by specially convened academic panels on a phased basis, prioritising those at later stages of study, so please look out for details of the round which applies to you.
For full-time students the scholarship period granted will be applied at the start of the fourth year of registration for MPhil/PhD students and at the start of the second year of registration for Masters by Research students. For part-time students, the scholarship will be applied pro-rata and at the corresponding point in the programme of study.
At the end of the scholarship period, normal fee liability will resume - i.e. you will become liable for tuition fee payments again until you meet the normal criteria in order to move to continuation status. You will not necessarily be ready to move into continuation at end of the fees scholarship period, since the scholarship is applied at a common point of registration for all students, whereas the timing of the move to continuations status varies according to when individual students reach this milestone.
Full information on transfer to continuation status can be found in section 8, Chapter 5 of the Teaching Quality Assurance manual.
If you have any questions about eligibility, your funding, how to complete this form or the application process, please feel free to contact the PGR Support team for guidance on email@example.com.
Full details on our funding extensions policy can be found on our Temporary Policies webpage. We have also answered some specific frequently asked questions on the policy below:
Specially convened College panels have been receiving applications on a phased basis. The process has been phased to ensure that the Doctoral College could prioritise the processing of extension/fees scholarship requests according to proximity of funding/programme end date, or where the studentship is fully/partially funded from external sources and requires subsequent discussion with partners regarding their contribution (which may take some time to confirm). The phasing has also allowed for greater clarity on the extent to which research has been impacted by Covid-19.
When can I apply for extended studentship funding?
The final round for extended studentship funding or fees scholarships under our Covid-19 temporary policy will be in Summer 2021, based on a current understanding of pandemic impacts upon research activity and University operations.
Any eligible student with grounds for a funded extension or fees scholarship who hasn’t yet applied for support must do so before noon 21st June 2021 in order to be considered in the final round of funding under this scheme.
How much of an extension can I request?
We have committed to support all reasonable and eligible requests for extensions under our policy, so students can be assured that where Covid-19 has caused immitigable delays, requests for funding extensions of between 1-6 months, commensurate with the extent of the impact, will be supported.
Why were there different timelines for those with different funding sources?
The timelines reflect a number of factors which determine timely outcomes for students according to how they are funded.
For self-funders, the timelines are linked to programme end dates and are intended to allow us to award fees scholarships on timescales commensurate with Exeter-funded students. For example, if your funding extension would apply from 01 Jan 21, or your fees scholarship would apply from Jan 2021, we are aiming to look at those applications at the same panel.
For those whose studentship is fully or partially funded from an external source (other than UKRI, Wellcome Trust, or other major funding bodies who have put in place their own policies and processes for extended funding), there is no guarantee that the external sponsor will be able to support a period of extended funding. In order to provide clarity for students in this group as soon as possible, we have invited applications in the first round, regardless of funding end date, because it is important that we can begin conversations with external partners.
Timelines also vary because some funding bodies – such as UKRI – have set out their own timescales to which we must adhere for their studentship schemes. It is not possible, given the range of different funding sources, to align the timescales for all funding bodies and University schemes.
I am fully externally funded – why does my application go through the internal panel first?
Applications from students whose funding is fully or partially supported from external sources (other than UKRI, Wellcome Trust, or other major funding bodies who have put in place their own policies and processes for extended funding), are being reviewed by the academic College panels before we approach external partners. This is so that we can give partners the assurance that we consider the period of extension requested to be necessary and justified, and that the funding requested is consistent with awards that we are making to UoE-funded students.
In addition, it is important that students in this group make an application if they have a case for an extension even if they believe their funder cannot contribute additional funds, because alternative funding sources may be accessible in some instances to support the cost of the extension.
I am funded from both UoE and external sources – when will my extension be confirmed?
After your application has been reviewed by the relevant College panel, we will be able to confirm that the case for extension is supported (or advise of any recommended change to the extension period).
We will then work with colleagues in Research Services and IIB to approach partners. This process may take some time as partners may not be in a position to make decisions just yet, and because, where funding is confirmed, we will then need to work with our Legal Services team to update the studentship agreement.
Timeline for the final call for funding extension applications (June 2021)
Application period open
w/b 24th May 2021
Deadline for Applications
Noon on 21st June 2021
College Panels Held
28th June – 9th July 2021
Final decisions communicated to students
By end of July 2021
If you wish to appeal against the outcome of your application on the basis of there being a) evidence of procedural irregularity and/or b) there is evidence of bias you may do so by submitting an Appeal Against a Funded Extension or Fees Scholarship Form to the University Cases Office within 10 working days of being notified of the final decision.
If you have any questions about the application process please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. This mailbox will be monitored by members of the PGR Support Team from 24th May 2021 and throughout the application process timeline.
The application forms are available here:
Please contact email@example.com
UKRI COVID-19 Phase 2 Doctoral Extensions: Round 2
UoE held a first round of applications for UKRI COVID-19 Phase 2 Extensions between Jan-Mar 2021. At the end of Round 1, a limited amount of the funding allocation to Exeter remains to be awarded. Therefore, we are initiating a second call for applications from UKRI-funded students who are eligible to apply for the UKRI Covid-19 Phase 2 funding. Further calls are not anticipated.
The UKRI COVID-19 Phase 2 Doctoral Extensions Funding round 2 is now open.
Applications will be considered from: eligible students who did not apply in the first round (for example, where extenuating circumstances prevented the student from meeting the application deadline) but nonetheless have grounds, within the scope of the fund, to make an application; or students who received/applied for an award of less than 6 months funding in the first round but can demonstrate the need arising for a longer extension.
You will be eligible for ‘Phase 2’ funding if:
a. You are registered on a research degree programme at the University of Exeter.
b. You have not submitted your doctoral thesis
c. You have not already received a COVID-19 extension from UKRI via your DTP/CDT
d. Your funding start date is before 01 March 2020*
e. Your funding end date is after 31 March 2021**
f. You are at least 50% funded by UKRI (AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC, NERC, MRC and STFC)
g. You have made all reasonable attempts to mitigate the delays of Covid-19 by adapting and adjusting your research, but there are circumstances which mean that even with adjustments and mitigation, you will be unable to complete your doctoral research within your funding period.
*For students on a 1+3 programme in which the first year is a formal taught programme resulting in a Masters qualification, applicants will need to demonstrate immitigable delays to doctoral research which had started before 01 March 2020. ** This refers to your funding end date as it was at the announcement of the Phase 1 policy on 9 April 2020; please contact us if you are unsure whether you meet this criteria.
Students and supervisors should ensure that they have read the guidance at UKRI Funding Guidance Phase 2 Round 2.
How to apply
New applicants (who did not submit an application in Round 1) should complete the UKRI Phase 2 Round 2 Application Form
Students re-applying (who applied in Round 1 for less than 6 months’ extended funding) should submit a supplementary information form.
Deadline for applications
The closing date for applications is midday, Monday 14th June 2021.
If your circumstances may prevent you from meeting the application deadline, please contact us in advance of the deadline day (and no later than midday Friday 11th June 2021) to discuss this.
Unless you have contacted us in advance of the deadline and we have agreed with you reasonable adjustments in light of your circumstances, the application deadline of midday Friday 14th June will be final; late applications will not be considered.
Further rounds are not anticipated.
Institutional Panel Committee Membership
Students will be notified of decisions at the end of July 2021.
Any students who wish to appeal against the outcome of their application on the basis of there being a) evidence of procedural irregularity and/or b) there is evidence of bias you may do so by submitting an Appeal Against a Funded Extension or Fees Scholarship Form to the University Cases Office within 10 working days of being notified of the final decision made by the Institutional Panel.
If you have any questions about the application process or wish to withdraw your application, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. This mailbox will be monitored by members of the PGR Support Team.
The University of Exeter’s new temporary policy on Research Degree theses and the impact of COVID 19 valid from 17th December 2020, responds to requests from students, supervisors and examiners. It is in line with moves across many other UK universities, and is one among numerous measures that the University has taken to support PGR students in the context of the pandemic, including policies with regard to deferrals, interruptions and extensions.
We acknowledge that Covid-19 has prompted many students to make changes to their research projects. For example, access to laboratories, archives, and fieldwork has rendered some plans impractical. Advice from most sources, including UKRI and the Doctoral College, has stressed the importance of flexibility wherever possible. While such changes will commonly be registered in the introduction to a thesis, we appreciate that many students will also welcome the opportunity to explain their circumstances in a separate statement.
Exeter’s policy therefore creates a mechanism for research degree students to explain the impact of disruptions to their research, and steps taken to adjust their projects. This will take the form of a short statement to be included with their thesis to be read by their examiners, but to be removed when the final, approved copy is deposited in ORE (Open Research Exeter). It also provides guidance for examiners on how to consider this information. While students may already have made such matters clear in thesis introductions, and these have been considered appropriately by examiners, this policy should provide a further measure of recognition and reassurance.
In line with other universities that have introduced similar policies, at Exeter the quality threshold for awards will remain unchanged. But we are aware that theses will be affected in various ways, and that it may be helpful to explain these effects. For example, different disciplines apply certain conventions when students are planning projects, which it has not been possible to meet. This might mean a certain number of experiments or seasons of fieldwork. Equally, while Exeter does not officially stipulate a minimum length for its theses, some disciplines may nonetheless have informal expectations, perhaps expressed in terms of words, chapters or number of publishable papers.
The decision to provide a Covid-19 impact statement is entirely at the discretion of individual students. Any student intending to include one should discuss this with their supervisor. Directors of PGR and Doctoral College PGR managers will also be able to provide advice.
Note. Reading this statement should not be a substitute for reading the 'Research Degree theses and the impact of COVID 19' itself for those considering the inclusion of such a statement with their thesis. The website should always be referred to at the time in question to ensure that the most up-to-date guidance is being considered.
Please note that revisions to this policy were approved in October 2020. This policy will continue to be reviewed: it is a temporary policy in place until August 2021 and it is likely to change further.
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.
This policy applies to upgrade submissions as well as to other circumstances as articulated in the introduction to the policy.
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.
This content was last updated on 11/11/20.
This policy was reviewed in October 2020, where no changes were deemed necessary at that time. August 2021: This policy is a temporary policy and will shortly be stood down, at which point updated guidance on electronic thesis submission, based on this temporary policy, will be available in the 'Presentation of theses/dissertations for degrees in the Faculty of Graduate Research: statement of procedures'.
For the purpose of this guidance reference to the thesis also constitutes reference to the dissertation where this is the pertinent requirement of the programme in question.
Submitting your Thesis/Dissertation for Examination
Please email a completed E-Thesis Submission Form to email@example.com. Where signatures are required in Parts A and B please include either scanned signatures or provide accompanying emails from the relevant signatories to be accepted in lieu of a scanned signature. Please advise if your thesis will comprise multiple files.
You will receive an email from the PGR Administration Office acknowledging receipt of your submission form. A submission folder will then be created in your name, and you will receive an explanatory email containing a link to the folder where you can submit an electronic copy of your thesis and any supplementary files. You will not be able to upload your thesis until you receive this link.
When you receive the email containing the link to your submission folder, please upload your full thesis in PDF format (where possible) to the Submission Portal. Please also upload any supplementary files.
The PGR Administration Office will check your submission and contact you if there are any problems with your submitted document(s). Please note, that we will check whether the file opens and is legible. Your submission will not be checked for completeness or proof-reading.
Once your electronic thesis has been checked and accepted for examination your submission folder will be locked and you will be notified by email.
If your Board of Examiners has already been appointed, your thesis will be sent to your examiners immediately and your Internal Examiner will contact you in the following weeks to discuss the arrangements for your viva voce exam.
- If your examiners have not yet been appointed, or your External Examiner has been asked to sign a confidentiality agreement prior to receiving your thesis, there may be a delay between the submission of your thesis and the date it is sent to your examiners for examination. You will be informed if this is the case.
Resubmission of a Thesis
If you are re-submitting your thesis for a second examination, please follow the submission process above. You will also need to pay a resubmission fee via the student finance team Make a Payment webpage. Please note that SID is no longer able to take payments by phone or in person- please use the make a payment webpage. Details of the amount to be paid will be confirmed separately after your first examination.
Please note, this does not include submissions for minor or major amendments or for outstanding amendments, none of which constitute a ‘resubmission’ and for which there is no fee to pay. Submission information for these categories will be sent to you with your list of amendments.
Submitting Minor or Major Amendments (not including Resubmission of thesis)
Notify the PGR Administration Office at firstname.lastname@example.org that your amended thesis is ready for submission.
You will receive an email from the PGR Administration Office acknowledging your message. A submission folder will then be created in your name, and you will receive an explanatory email containing a link to the folder where you can submit an electronic copy of your thesis and any supplementary files. You will not be able to upload your thesis until you receive this link.
When you receive the email containing the link to your submission folder, please upload your full thesis in PDF format to the Submission Portal. Please also upload any supplementary files.
The PGR Administration Office will check your submission and contact you if there are any problems with your submitted document(s). Please note, that we will check whether the file opens and is legible. Your submission will not be checked for completeness or proof-reading.
Once your electronic thesis has been checked and accepted for approval by your examiner(s) your submission folder will be locked and you will be notified by email.
- Your amended thesis will be sent to your examiners for review.
For full details of the examination regulations please refer to the Handbook for Examination of Postgraduate Research programmes and the temporary virtual viva policy.
Policy & documents
Concerns about electronic submission
Students who have any concerns with regard to electronic submission of their thesis should discuss these with their supervisory team, and may also seek more information from the PGR Support Team via email@example.com. Students are not required to submit their thesis electronically, but should note that as electronic submission is the only option currently available this will delay their thesis submission. If delaying the submission (for first examination) or resubmission of their thesis means that they will not be able to submit their thesis within their required time-frame it is important that they seek advice from their College PGR Support Team with regard to applying for an extension as appropriate.
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.
Please note that revisions to this policy were approved in April 2021. This policy is a temporary policy and will shortly be stood down, at which point updated guidance on vivas by video-link, largely based on this temporary policy, will be available in the 'Statements of Procedures: Periods of registration and changes to registration status for graduate research students'.
Arrangements for Upgrade vivas via a video-link (using MS Teams)
- 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 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.
- If you have any about proceeding in this way you should discuss this in the first instance with your College's PGR Support Team.
- 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 it is feasible for all participants to proceed in this way, which includes 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 give further details about proceeding this way. They will offer you the opportunity to ask any questions or raise any concerns about your upgrade viva being held remotely.
- 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.
- If it is not feasible for you to continue in this way your PGR Support Team will liaise with you to ensure that they understand your individual circumstances before advising you upon your next steps.
- We're aware that circumstances can change: Even if appropriate arrangements are in place to allow your upgrade viva to proceed remotely, please do get in touch with your PGR Support Team if you have concerns that this will no longer be feasible for you (please mark your email urgent if your viva is due to take place within two weeks of making contact).
- 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 Spectrum Life.
Content updated 06/05/2021
Please note that revisions to this policy were approved in April 2021. August 2021: This policy is a temporary policy and will shortly be stood down, at which point updated guidance on vivas by video-link, largely based on this temporary policy, will be available in the Handbook for Examination of Postgraduate Research programmes.
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 vivas by video-link. Below are some helpful documents which should explain the new policy and give some helpful tips on this new way of working.
- There is a temporary policy in place for the Doctoral College to allow viva voce examinations to take place via 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.
- If you have any concerns about proceeding in this way you should discuss this in the first instance with your College's PGR Support Team.
- In order to agree that an examination may proceed in this way your College DPGR needs to:
- make sure that it is feasible for all participants to proceed in this way, 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.
- In order to support examinations proceeding in this way, a Non-Examining Independent Chair will be appointed for your examination, if they have not already been appointed. 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 viva by video-link also has a PGR Support contact helping to manage the arrangements, and it will usually be this person who will get in contact with you to give you further details about the viva, and with whom you can discuss any questions or concerns about the viva taking place remotely.
- 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 contact if you have concerns that this will no longer be feasible for you (please mark your email as urgent if your viva is due to take place within two weeks of making contact).
- Reading this summary is not a substitute for reading the full Virtual 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 Spectrum Life.
- Read all about Ahmad Alfaraj's experience of conducting a viva in this way on the Doctoral College blog.
- Virtual Viva Temporary Policy
- Virtual Vivas: Checklist for Examiners and NEIC
- Creating an invitation for a viva in Teams
- Virtual Viva Flowchart
If you have any questions relating to the new viva process please contact your local PGR support team.
Content updated 13/05/2021