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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 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).

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.



Skills Training

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:

  • Introduction
  • 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

Revisions - September 2007


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

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 [September 2018]- 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

Examiner Report Forms & Other Forms Related to Examinations

Available upon request from the relevant School or Faculty graduate office.

Examination Fees and Expenses

Posthumous and Aegrotat Award Postgraduate Research Degrees Policy

Summary of changes to policy documents

Revisions to Thesis Presentation Policy:

Changes to PGR Examination Policy:


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 [February 2018] 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