Code of practice for postgraduate research degrees
Postgraduate research students are a key component of the University of Manchester's strategic vision. The University is an internationally distinguished centre of research. The University of Manchester - as expressed in the Manchester 2020 vision - is 'a world-leading university recognised globally for the excellence of its research, outstanding learning and student experience, and its social, economic and cultural impact.' We endeavour to provide students with opportunities to excel in an environment that provides outstanding supervision, training and facilities.
This Code of Practice for postgraduate research degrees constitutes the central reference document for policies, procedures and good practice at the University of Manchester. It defines the minimum requirements for postgraduate research through full-time and part-time modes of study. It has been designed to ensure a high-quality framework is implemented and maintained consistently across the University. It sets out the responsibilities of the University, faculties, schools and supervisors so that students know what they can expect from the University. In return, it details the responsibilities of research students so that students know what the University expects of them.
This code is an evolving document that will grow in line with national and international developments in graduate education and with the ever increasing levels of best practice in postgraduate research at the University of Manchester. Staff and students are encouraged to become actively involved in improving and extending the code. All feedback is welcome and should be directed to the Research Degrees and Researcher Development team in the Research Office.
Professor Melissa Westwood
Associate Vice President for Research
Director of the Manchester Doctoral College
University of Manchester
The Code of Practice sets out the University of Manchester's framework in relation to the management and coordination of postgraduate research degrees both full-time and part-time. The University is committed to ensuring the quality of every student's research experience and as such the code of practice defines minimum requirements to safeguard high standards of postgraduate research degree activity.
The Code of Practice should be read in conjunction with the University's Ordinances and Regulations and faculty and/or school handbooks as appropriate.
This Code is intended for use by academics, administrators, full time and part time postgraduate research students and is revised on a regular basis in consultation with its users and the University's Graduate Education Group (GEG). The Graduate Education Group is responsible for strategic and policy matters in relation to all aspects of graduate education and identifying and sharing good practice across faculties in graduate education work. The group meets monthly and reports to the University Research and Graduate Education Committee (URGEC).
Students will only be offered a place on a research degree where they can be provided with a fully supportive research environment. Schools or where appropriate, divisions, should ensure that the following criteria are met when assessing the research environment:
- Supervisory arrangements specified within this code of practice are met or exceeded and that prospective supervisors have the relevant experience and related record of published research. Further information can be found in the supervision section of this code of practice.
- Evidence at discipline level of appropriate national and international excellence in research.
- Appropriate access to library and computing facilities which as a minimum will include individual access to a computer with email and internet access and printing facilities.
- All students in attendance at the University should where possible be provided with a designated study area with appropriate desk space, computing resources and experimental equipment to embark on and complete the research degree. Split-site students should where possible expect the same facilities as on-campus students when visiting campus.
- Students should have appropriate access to facilities regardless of mode of study.
- Students are provided with the appropriate skills training. Further information can be found in the skills training section of this code of practice.
- Research groupings should be fostered with a critical mass of researchers and research students in the same or related disciplines that enable students to interact with peers.
- An active research environment should be developed internally which enables students to participate in research seminars, participating both as listeners and presenters. Students should be encouraged to participate in external symposia, conferences and workshops and publish within respected, and where possible refereed journals and publications.
- Where appropriate, clear policy and guidance on publication rights, including joint authorship, which encourages students to publish their work should be communicated to students.
- Research equipment and funding available to the student should be sufficient to allow the student to complete their research degree.
- Students are expected to respect the research environment and ensure their research within this environment does not lower standards for other research students.
- Access to sufficient and appropriate student support and welfare services.
The University policy on postgraduate applications and admissions can be found on the recruitment and admissions policy and good practice website. Any queries in relation to the admissions process may also be directed to:
The Postgraduate Admissions Office
The University of Manchester
Tel: +44 (0) 161 275 4740
Registration is a two-step process. Students must first register with their school or faculty (academic registration) and then pay their tuition fees (financial registration). From September 2006, students will be able to complete both registration processes online. Alternatively, Schools or Faculties should advise students of their allocated time to attend a central registration venue for financial registration.
Every student must register on their research degree at the beginning of their studies. For as long as a student is following their research degree they must remain registered with the University and pay the appropriate fees.
Further information relating to the registration process and a registration guide is provided by the Student Services Centre.
The University of Manchester is committed to ensuring its students excel in personal, social and intellectual qualities. As part of its strategy in skills training the University provides students with opportunities to learn skills that may help in the achievement of personal and career development goals as students and graduates of the University. The University ensures that all research students are provided with high quality, relevant and appropriate skills training and development opportunities through embedding skills development within discipline groupings.
The University's Postgraduate Research Skills Training Policy provides information on the following:
- Policy Aims and Links to PGR Skills Training Strategy
- University Requirements
- Research Students Responsibilities
- Supervisors Responsibilities
- Faculty Responsibilities
- Support and Guidance
- Skills Training Framework for The University of Manchester
Please also refer to interim Guidance on Remote Supervisionduring the Coronavirus outbreak and the Rescoping PhD projects in response to COVID-19 impact: Guidance for Supervisors.
The University's Policy on Supervision for Postgraduate Research Degrees contains information for postgraduate research students and academic and administrative staff in Schools and Faculties to inform on procedures and policy relating to the supervision of postgraduate research students. This supervision policy document relates to all research degrees across the University, not just doctoral degrees, and also includes collaborative research degrees.
The supervision policy document provides information on the following:
- Supervisory Teams
- Appointment of Supervisors
- Supervision Responsibilities
- Supervision for collaborative research degrees
- Absence or Change of supervisor
- Staff Development for Supervisors
Revisions to Supervision Policy for Postgraduate Research Degrees
- Revisions - November 2016
- Revisions - February 2014
- Revisions - December 2011
- Revisions - November 2008
- Revisions - September 2007
- Doing a PhD: What you should expect and what is expected of you.
Additional guidance on supervision provided by the Student Guidance Service
- Supervisor Guidance Advice Sheet.
Summary guidance and advice for supervisors.
- Guidance for managing PGR students transferring from another institution
Gives details on the administrative process for managing a change of institution
- Policy on Recording and Monitoring Attendance
- Supervisory Activities [Oct 2014]
- External Supervisor Engagement Form [Jan 2015]
To be used when retaining or appointing an external supervisor for a doctoral programme
The University Policy on the Progress and Review of Postgraduate Research Students provides information on policy and procedural issues in relation to the progress and review of postgraduate research students throughout their degree. The policy document provides information on the following:
- Meetings with supervisors
- Formal progress meetings
- Reports and presentations
- Progress record
- Continuation and transfer
- Unsatisfactory progress
Revisions to Policy on the Progress and Review of Postgraduate Research Degrees
What is a progress file?
Progress files should consist of two elements:
- a transcript recording student achievement which should follow a common format devised by institutions collectively through their representative bodies;
- a means by which students can monitor, build and reflect upon their personal development'. (recommendation of the National Committee of Inquiry in Higher Education; 1997)
While the term Progress File suggests that it is a document charting the progress of an individual, the overall concept contains:
- the transcript: a record of an individual's learning and achievement, provided by the institution;
- an individual's personal records of learning and achievements, progress reviews and plans that are used to clarify personal goals and can provide a resource from which material is selected to produce personal statements (e.g. CVs etc) for employers
- structured and supported processes to develop the capacity of individuals to reflect upon their own learning and achievement, and to plan for their own personal educational and career development.
The term 'Personal Development Planning' (PDP) is used to denote this process. Progress Files help make the outcomes, or results, of learning in higher education more explicit, identify the achievements of learning, and support the concept that learning is a lifetime activity.
What is Personal Development Planning?
Personal Development Planning (PDP) is a structured and supported process undertaken by an individual to reflect upon their own learning, performance and / or achievement and to plan for their personal, educational and career development.
The primary objective for PDP is to improve the capacity of individuals to understand what and how they are learning, and to review, plan and take responsibility for their own learning, helping students:
- become more effective, independent and confident self-directed learners;
- understand how they are learning and relate their learning to a wider context;
- improve their general skills for study and career management;
- articulate personal goals and evaluate progress towards their achievement;
- and encourage a positive attitude to learning throughout life.
Guidelines and Principles
The key principles of PDP for the University of Manchester are outlined as follows:
- Personal Development Planning should be centred on student learning and development, supporting students in strengthening, integrating and reflecting on knowledge; and on understanding their intellectual, personal and social development.
- Personal Development Planning should provide a framework to support the development of students in a structured manner, allowing them to self-assess progress through their programme and onwards to their careers.
- Personal Development Planning should aim to improve the capacity of individuals to understand what and how they are learning, and to review, plan, and take responsibility for their own learning and development.
- Personal Development Planning should provide a mechanism and a forum for individuals to learn to articulate and present their personal, academic and career development.
- Personal Development Planning should give individuals the opportunity to reflect on learning within the curriculum, in co-curricular activities, and outside the curriculum.
- Personal Development Planning processes should seek to encourage a positive attitude to self-development and lifelong learning
- The effectiveness and enhancement of PDP should be a standing item for annual reviews.
- PDP should be linked to employability. Where possible the Higher Education Academy Employability Profiles should be used to inform development and enhancement.
- PDP processes should emphasise the articulation of skills and experience.
- Electronic recording of personal development should be considered good practice.
PDP and Employability
Personal development planning processes are linked to employability in various ways. Through effective PDP processes students can learn to articulate their skills and experience, and their developmental needs in ways that are both useful and accessible to employers. The ability to reflect on personal successes and to articulate the learning derived from less successful ventures is important in the application and selection process for graduate employers.
Encouraging students to articulate and evidence their development gives them a head start when they come to write their CV or their job applications. If they have engaged fully in PDP they will have evidence that they can draw on to support any assertions they make about their skills and abilities.
Making the link between PDP and future success in their career can serve as a hook to students, to engage them in PDP. It is not then a meaningless activity for them but one that has a specific and
Change of Circumstances Policy for Postgraduate Research Students [now updated to include COVID-19 related mitigating circumstances]- previously the Policy on Circumstances Leading to Changes to Postgraduate Research Study, July 2012.
This policy should be considered alongside the following:
- Extensions Procedure for Postgraduate Research Students (Non COVID-19)
- Extensions due to COVID-19 Procedure for Postgraduate Research Students
- Interruptions Procedure for Postgraduate Research Students
- Official Leave of Absence for Postgraduate Research Students
- Sickness Procedure for Postgraduate Research Students
- Submission Pending Procedure for Postgraduate Research Students
- Withdrawals and Terminations Procedure for Postgraduate Research Students
Associated Guidance Documents
- Procedure on Fitness to Study
- Statement of Fitness to Work (PGR Students) Guidance Notes (September 2010)
- Certification of Student Ill Health - PGR Student
- PGR Fees during interruption (June 2013) - Provides guidance to administrators on the fee process during an interruption.
- End of year examination and registration guidance - Provides guidance on re-registration of PGR students where their registration date falls outside progression
- Health & Safety in Off Campus Work including field work, field trips and business travel - This guidance document covers a wide range of health & safety issues in fieldwork; including offsite visits and travel to the UK and overseas.
- Student Protection Plan - Policy on Refunds and Compensation - This policy outlines the University’s approach to considering whether tuition fees and other relevant costs should be refunded and/or compensation should be offered in circumstances where the University is no longer able to protect continuation of study for students
Revisions made to the Policy and to the former supporting procedural documents:
- Revisions to Change of Circumstaces Policy for Postgraduate Research Students: June 2020, Sept 2018, June 2012, May 2012, Sept 2010, Sept 2009, Sept 2007
- Revisions to the Maternity, Adoption and Paternity Leave Policy [June 2014]
- Revisions to the Sick Leave policy for Funded Postgraduate Research Students[June 2014]
- Revisions to the Maternity, Adoption and Paternity Pay Policy for Funded Postgraduate Research Students and the Maternity Leave and Adoption Leave Guidance on Procedures for Postgraduate Research Students: June 2014
Electronic Thesis Submission
All postgraduate research students are required to submit electronic versions of their thesis or dissertation ( examination and final corrected versions ) via eThesis submission in MyManchester. This includes all doctoral students, MPhil students and research Masters students.
- Presentation of Theses Policy [April 2019]
- Presentation of Dissertations Policy: Master of Science (MSc) by Research and Master of Enterprise (MEnt) [June 2017]
- Journal Format Theses - Guiding Principles for Students and Staff [February 2017]
Nomination of Examiners and Independent Chairs
- Nomination of Examiners and Independent Chairs for Postgraduate Research Degree Examinations Policy [Nov 2016]
PGR External Examiners - Payment Process and Guidance Documents
- External Examiner Payment Process Document [April 2018]
- External Examiner Confirmation Letter Template [April 2018]
- Appointment of Examiners - Consultancy Agreement for PGR External Examiners [to be sent with all appointment letters]
- Payment of Examiners – PR PGR EE - PGR External Examiners Fees and Expenses Claim Form
- Notes for claimants using PR PGR EE fees and expenses claim form [to be sent with all PR PGR EE Claim Forms]
- PGR External Examiner Supplier Route e-Mail Template [April 2018]
- Payment procedure for External Examiners for Research (PGR) provision: cover form (word document)
PGR External Examiners - Employment Status and Right to Work Guidance Documents
- Guidance for PGR Admin - External Examiner Appointment, Right to Work and Payment Flowchart
- External Examiner Home Office Guidance (UKVI Right to Work)
- External Examiner Right to Work FAQ - PGR Specific
PGR Examination Policy
- Examination of Doctoral Degrees Policy [June 2017]
- Examination of Master of Philosophy (MPhil) Degrees Policy [June 2017]
- Resubmission and Re-examination of Postgraduate Research Degrees Policy [June 2017]
- Examination of Master of Science (MSc by Research) and Master of Enterprise (MEnt) Degrees Policy [February 2018]
- Appointment of examiners - Schedule of Services [to be sent with Exam report forms]
Academic Malpractice and Plagiarism
Oral Examination by Video Link
- Interim guidance on vivas by video link (due to Coronavirus) [March 2020]
- Guidance on conducting oral examinations by video link [November 2012]
Posthumous and Aegrotat Award Postgraduate Research Degrees Policy
- Posthumous and Aegrotat award of Postgraduate Research Degrees Policy [June 2014]
- Summary of Posthumous policy changes [June 2014]
Summary of changes to policy documents
Revisions to Thesis Presentation Policy:
- Revisions - Presentation of Theses Policy [April 2019]
- Revisions - Presentation of Theses Policy [February 2017]
- Revisions - Presentation of Dissertations Policy [February 2017]
- Revisions - Presentation of Theses [June 2014]
- Revisions - Presentation of Theses [February 2013]
- Revisions - Presentation of Theses [November 2008]
- Revisions - Presentation of Theses [September 2007]
Changes to PGR Examination Policy:
- Summary of policy changes - PGR examinations [June 2017]
- Summary of policy changes - PGR examinations [November 2016]
- Summary of policy changes - PGR examinations [June 2016]
- Summary of policy changes - PGR examinations [May 2012]
- Summary of policy changes - PGR examinations [November 2011]
- Summary of policy changes - PGR examinations [September 2009]
The University of Manchester Intellectual Property Limited (UMIP) is the managing agent of The University of Manchester for intellectual property commercialisation. UMIP is responsible for the University's IP Policy and further support and guidance on intellectual property, including information on copyright, can be found on the UMIP website.
The following links also provide some useful supporting information to help you understand intellectual property and copyright:
The University operates a split site and joint award collaborative research arrangements.
Split-site PhD Arrangements
- Policy for Split-Site PhD Arrangements [November 2016]
The University Policy for split-site PhD Arrangements provides a flexible institutional framework for all types of split-site PhD arrangements and outlines minimum institutional requirements. The policy document provides the following information:
- Definition of a split-site PhD
- Rationale for developing split-site PhD links
- Approval process
- Key principles for split-site PhD arrangements
Revisions to Policy for Split-Site PhD Arrangements
- Revisions - November 2016
- Revisions - January 2011
- Revisions - November 2008
- Revisions - August 2007
Joint Award PhD Arrangements
- Joint Award procedures for postgraduate research programmes [Sep 2013]
- Application form for Joint/Dual postgraduate research programmes [Feb 2019]
Dual Award PhD Arrangements
The Visiting Research Student policy [October 2019] provides guidance for students and staff on how to manage and administer research students who visit the University of Manchester on a short-term basis for more than 1 month and less than 12 months.
The policy document provides information on the following:
- Definition of a Visiting Research Student
- Attendance requirements of a Visiting Research Student including guidance for students who may have visa restrictions
- Information for students who wish to take taught units whilst attending the University of Manchester as a Visiting Research Student
- The application and induction process for a student attending the University as a Visiting Reseach Student
- The responsibilities of the supervisor of a Visiting Research Student
- The responsibilities of the Visiting Research Student
- Exchange students
PGR Travel - An Administrator Toolkit
Postgraduate Researchers travelling for any reason whilst on their programme of study, will usually need to request formal approval, book travel arrangements, ensuring adequate travel insurance is in place and carry out risk assessment(s). This page provides advice and guidance for Postgraduate Research Administrators supporting PGR students with their travel arrangements.
This webpage includes links to the following tools useful to PGR Students and PGR Administrators:
- PGR Travel Authorisation Form (TAF) for Doctoral Students
- University of Manchester Travel Policy
- Safety Services Travel Resources
- Risk Assessment Toolkit
- Pre-Travel Self-Checklist
- University of Manchester Travel Insurance
- Export Control Flowchart
Students must obtain approval in advance of any period of travel away from the University. Failure to obtain approval before travel may result in the traveller not being covered by the University insurance.
The University of Manchester Travel Policy sets out the requirement for the University to have a Pre-Travel Authorisation (PTA) process in place for International travel, but is good practice for all destinations.
PGR Administrators can direct PGRs to use the PGR Travel Authorisation Form (TAF) for Doctoral Students to be completed before they travel. This form sets out a checklist for students to ensure that they have carried out all the required steps and have obtained approval before they travel.
Students must declare: dates of the travel; the purpose of the trip; their funding source/s; their health and safety arrangements; their travel insurance cover arrangements (if not covered by the University policy); that they have made necessary visa arrangements (where applicable); that they have read and understood all the relevant policies and procedures; that they understand how to claim expenses; that they have obtained research ethics approval (where relevant).
PGR Pre-Travel Responsibilities
- Complete and submit the PGR Travel Authorisation Form (TAF) for Doctoral Students
- Obtain approval for the period of travel.
- Carry out a risk assessment and get Ethical Approval (where relevant). Administrators can refer to the example Ethical Approval/Risk assessment approval workflow for guidance.
Once travel authorisation has been granted consideration should be given to the necessary insurance required in order to travel and any additional support that may be needed.
For clarification on any aspect of the policy as it relates to PGR you can contact the University Travel Insurance team.
Please note the following details relating to PGR Travel insurance:
- If a PGR student attends visits, conferences, placements and fieldtrips as part of their programme of studies and it is a mandatory requirement for them to attend, then their travel is covered by the University insurance (this includes students who book their own travel or travel is paid for by a third party, subject to T&C and exclusions).
- Non-regulated accommodation e.g. private sub-lets and Air-BnB are not covered for insurance purposes
- Students undertaking any period of personal activity during their travel will require their own personal travel insurance. The student is only covered for the period of the trip that is for University business.
- All travel must be booked through The University of Manchester’s Travel procurement contractor Key travel.
- If a student undertakes a placement, approved by the School with the required risk assessment, that is not a compulsory part of their PhD, but significantly enhances the PhD, and they do not take an interruption for the period of time away from the University, the student will be covered by the University’s Travel insurance. There should be a contract in place between the institution/placement in order for the student to be covered.
- The University cannot provide advice on personal travel insurance.
- Student placements in the UK are not covered by the University Travel Insurance
- If the situation in country changes before/during travel, another risk assessment should be carried out.
International Travel Destination Advice
PGR students and staff should refer to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website for the latest travel advice relating to their destination.
Students requiring disability support when travelling should also refer to the Disability Advisory and Support Service Travel Support website.
PGR students travelling internationally need to be aware of the export controls that apply to goods, technology, software and/or knowledge “exported” outside of the UK (this includes carriage of a laptop on trip). The Export Control Organisation provides online checker tool which help to establish if items/knowledge are controlled and require an export control licence.
PGR Pre-Departure Responsibilities
- Use the pre-travel self-checklist on the University insurance page to prepare themselves for travel.
- Purchase personal travel insurance where appropriate.
- Obtain all required travel documentation (e.g. visa).
- Obtain Travel support from Disability Advisory and Support Service where appropriate.
- Refer to the Export Control Flowchart and carry out an online check / contact the University’s Export Controls Compliance team at email@example.com if in doubt.
Key travel is The University of Manchester’s Travel procurement contractor. PGR students can create their own itinerary through “Look not Book” access in key travel. ‘Arrangers’ will need to approve and book any PGR student travel arrangements through Key Travel.
Please see the Travel Booking webpages for full details.
The PR7 process should be used to process expenses once the travel is completed.
PGR Travel Booking Responsibilities
- Create own travel booking for approval through Key travel.
There are currently no open consultations.