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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

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 Manchester Doctoral College Strategy Group (MDCSG). MDCSG 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.  

Research Environment

Research Environment

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Evidence at discipline level of appropriate national and international excellence in research.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Students should have appropriate access to facilities regardless of mode of study.
  6. Students are provided with the appropriate skills training. Further information can be found in the skills training section of this code of practice.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Where appropriate, clear policy and guidance on publication rights, including joint authorship, which encourages students to publish their work should be communicated to students.
  10. Research equipment and funding available to the student should be sufficient to allow the student to complete their research degree.
  11. Students are expected to respect the research environment and ensure their research within this environment does not lower standards for other research students.
  12. Access to sufficient and appropriate student support and welfare services.

Applications and Admissions

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
Oxford Rd
Tel:  +44 (0) 161 275 4740

Registration and Induction

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.



Professional and Career Training and Development

Postgraduate researchers (PGRs) make a significant contribution to the University’s research excellence and reputation and the University is committed to creating an environment that allows all PGRs to strive for excellence and develop to their full potential. The provision of the highest quality professional and career development, training and opportunities supports PGRs to complete their research degree and successfully transition to the next stage of their career.

The University's Postgraduate Researcher Professional and Career Training and Development - Statement of Expectations provides information on the following:

  • Professional and career training / development expectations
  • Intitutional responsibilities
  • Supervisor responsibilities 
  • PGR responsibilities 
  • Typical core training / training and development timeline



Please also refer to interim Guidance on Remote Supervision during 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

Supporting information

Progress and Review

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:

Related Documents:

Personal Development Planning

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

In addition:

  • 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

Changes to Degrees

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:

Procedural Documents

Associated Guidance Documents

Revisions made to the Policy and to the former supporting procedural documents: 

Submission and Examination

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.

Theses Presentation

Nomination of Examiners and Independent Chairs

PGR External Examiners - Payment Process and Guidance Documents

PGR External Examiners - Employment Status and Right to Work Guidance Documents

PGR Examination Policy

Academic Malpractice and Plagiarism

Oral Examination by Video Link

Examination Fees

Posthumous and Aegrotat Award Postgraduate Research Degrees Policy

Summary of changes to policy documents

Revisions to Thesis Presentation Policy:

Changes to PGR Examination Policy:


Supporting Wellbeing and Mental Health

The wellbeing and mental health of our postgraduate researchers (PGRs) is of paramount importance to the University. We are committed to providing an environment in which postgraduate researchers can thrive, enjoy their experience and develop to their full potential.

The University recognises that during their research programme, PGRs will face a wide range of experiences and challenges and this may lead to the need for support and guidance for a variety of non-academic or wellbeing and mental health issues.

The aim of this section of the Code of Practice is to direct PGRs, PGR supervisors and professional services to the wide range of support, from suggestions on how to maintain wellbeing to specialist mental health support, that is available through the University.  

Resources for PGRs

Six Ways to Wellbeing

The University’s Six Ways to Wellbeing are actions which all members of the University are encouraged to incorporate into their daily life, to help them feel good and function well. For ideas on how PGRs can use this framework please see Six Ways to PGR Wellbeing and the wellbeing resources page of PGR Life.

The Wellbeing Thesis

Recognising the distinctive challenges that PGRs can experience, the University of Derby, King’s College London and Student Minds have developed an open access web resource to support postgraduate researchers’ wellbeing, learning and research. It is free to use and can be accessed here.

Researcher Development Training

Faculty-based researcher training and development teams, and the Library’s My Research Essentials programme, offer a range of training and support on topics such as ‘shut up and write’, overcoming imposter syndrome, perfection and mindfulness. Please check Faculty websites for details – Biology, Medicine and Health, Humanities, Science and Engineering.

Student Support

Additional information and support on issues such as housing, finances, visas and a A-Z of all University Services please see the University’s student support pages.

The Counselling Service

The Counselling Service is open to all students, including postgraduate researchers. The Service is aware of the unique nature of the issues that PGRs experience and the support they offer takes into account the distinct experience of PGRs; this is applicable to individual appointments as well as other resources such as workshops and online tools. Workshops are open to all and some cater specifically to PGRs, for example, Managing PhD Stress. The service signposts to wellbeing apps of most relevance to PGRs and there are useful interactive resources on relevant topics such as procrastination.  

Disability Advice and Support Service (DASS)

The Disability Advisory and Support Service (DASS) provides an accessible and inclusive service for all students, including postgraduate researchers, who have a disability to access the support they need. The type of support ranges from assistive software to specialist equipment. You can book a quick query appointment to access the support you need.


All members of the University can access free online mental health and wellbeing support with Togetherall (formerly Big White Wall), any time, any day. The 24/7 online community is monitored by clinicians and is anonymous and confidential.  To join - select Universities and Colleges under the organisation tab and enter your University email address.

Help in A Crisis

Text - Shout is the UK's first free 24/7 text service for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere. It's a place to go if you're struggling to cope and you need immediate help. TEXT Shout to 8528.

Phone - The Samaritan: Freefone 116 123 or 0161 236 8000 charged at a local rate. Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to talk confidentially about any problem, however big or small.

Online - Manchester Nightline Nightmal is available 24/7. All emails are scrambled as they arrive to keep anonymity, email


Resources for PGR Supervisors

PGR Supervisor Toolkit

Supervisors play a vital role in supporting the wellbeing of PGRs. The PGR Supervisor Toolkit has a dedicated section on wellbeing and student support which contains useful signposting information for supervisors. Supervisors can also watch the Supervising Stressed Students video and refer to the guidance on how to spot the signs of stress

Supervisors Flowchart

This flowchart guides supervisors through different levels of support that PGRs may need and includes questions to ask along with signposting to training and resources. 

Counselling Service Training for Staff

There are two online resources for all staff. Supporting Students will help you understand how to support wellbeing and Identifying and responding to student mental health problems uses short videos to take you through a number of scenarios to help you think through what might be helpful responses, including when to refer to other sources of help and support. 

Crisis Pathway

If you have significant concerns about someone then please refer to The Crisis Pathway Poster


Resources for Professional Services 

The model of student support, including support for PGRs, is structured in to a stepped model of care, moving from prevention through support to more formal intervention. You can access the Counselling Service interactive presentation on the Stepped Care Model to find out more.

The Counselling Service’s online resources for all staff are aimed at helping you to understand how to support wellbeing - Supporting Students and at helping you to think through what might be helpful responses, including when to refer to other sources of help and support - Identifying and responding to student mental health problems.

The PGR wellbeing project developed an online resource for professional services colleagues services colleagues outlining the distinctiveness of the postgraduate research experience and how that may impact on the type of support that PGRs need.

Please ensure The Crisis Pathway Poster is prominently display in professional services offices. 

Intellectual Property

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

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

Joint Award PhD Arrangements

Dual Award PhD Arrangements

Visiting Research Student

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

Summary of Changes February 2018

PGR Travel Guidance for Administrators

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:


Travel Authorisation

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

  1. Complete and submit the PGR Travel Authorisation Form (TAF) for Doctoral Students
  2. Obtain approval for the period of travel. 
  3. 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. 


Travel Insurance

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.

The University Travel Insurance website provides details on the cover provided by the University for students.

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.

Disability Support

Students requiring disability support when travelling should also refer to the Disability Advisory and Support Service Travel Support website.

Export Control

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

  1. Use the pre-travel self-checklist on the University insurance page to prepare themselves for travel. 
  2. Purchase personal travel insurance where appropriate.
  3. Obtain all required travel documentation (e.g. visa).
  4. Obtain Travel support from Disability Advisory and Support Service where appropriate.
  5. Refer to the Export Control Flowchart and carry out an online check / contact the University’s Export Controls Compliance team at if in doubt.

Travel Bookings

Key Travel

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

  1. Create own travel booking for approval through Key travel.

Policy and Procedure Consultations

There are currently no open consultations.