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Research degree process

Postgraduate research degrees do not involve any taught elements, which means the process for completing this kind of qualification - as opposed to a taught course like a Master’s - is very different.

There are several milestones throughout a postgraduate research degree, with each stage designed to assess and hone your research to help you produce a strong thesis. The following are the main milestones during a postgraduate research degree - you can find more information about all of these stages in the Code of Practice for Research Degrees (pdf 2.6mb).

  • First review - This should take place between three and six months (for full-time) or six and 12 months (for part-time) after registration. During this review, you will be expected to define the proposed area and scope for your research, report on your progress to date, review planned skills and training, undertake a risk assessment of health and safety and ethical issues related to your research, and agree your future research plan and activities.
  • Annual monitoring - At the end of each academic year, there will be a review of your progress. This information is compiled by you, in consultation with the supervisory team. It should include a record of any achievements to date, as well as any difficulties you’ve faced, and should also outline the proposals for your next period of research. This process also includes a review of your skills development and training priorities, as per the requirements of external bodies such as the Research Council, HEFCE and QAA.
  • Transfer to higher award - Although you will be registered on a PhD Research Degree Programme, you will be required to go through a transfer procedure, usually taking you from the equivalent of an MPhil to the PhD stage. This step is necessary to ensure that you and your research meet the required academic standards to continue to doctoral level. Usually, this transfer will take place 18 months after registration (or 36 months if you are studying part-time).
  • Final thesis submission - Doctoral and MPhil examination - At the end of your research degree programme you will be expected to submit the following:
    • At least one permanently bound thesis - this should be submitted to the Academic Faculty Research Administrator
    • One permanently bound and one electronic copy of your thesis - these should be submitted to the Faculty Subject Librarian
    • One completed Deposit of and Access to a Thesis form

You will find further details about this stage, as well as all the forms you require, on myBU, which you can access using your student ID and login once you have registered. Please note that we cannot confer any award until all of the above items have been submitted and the completeness integrity of the submitted thesis has been confirmed by the Subject Librarian.