Temporary Policies due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Over the next few weeks, these temporary policies will no longer apply. Good practice has been learnt and incorporated into the current policies as described in the Teaching and Quality Assurance Manual (TQA) and the University Calendar.
Exceptions to the TQA and Calendar must be sent to the PGR Support Teams and put forward on the recommendation of the relevant College DPGR.
This page will be closed once all the temporary policies have been incorporated into the existing policy documents.
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.