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MPhil to PhD upgrade

During your period of study, you will be subject to a series of monitoring procedures. Their purpose is to ensure that you are making good progress in your studies, and to provide valuable opportunities to discuss and evaluate your progress with Departmental academics other than your supervisor. Monitoring procedures occur on a number of different levels.

The MPhil to PhD upgrade is an important monitoring procedure. It is a university requirement, and all students wishing to take a PhD must successfully complete it. All students admitted to the MPhil/PhD programme are registered initially as M.Phil students. To make the transition to full PhD status, students must submit a dossier of work, which will then be assessed by two members of staff. Provided it is considered to be of doctoral-level standard, students will then be registered as full PhD students. We aim to make the whole procedure as helpful as possible. While there is undoubtedly an element of assessment, we see this as an enabling exercise, whereby students get the benefit of feedback from various members of staff who have not seen their work before. The Upgrade procedure takes place during the third term of first year, full-time registration. Part-time students normally apply to upgrade in the sixth term of their registration. Students who begin studies partway through the year should prepare to apply for the upgrade in their third term (in the case of full-time registration) or in their sixth term (in the case of part-time registration). The Director of Graduate Studies will inform you and your supervisor of the exact application date at the beginning of the year in which you must upgrade.

The deadline for application is the 2nd week of term 3. If you are registered part-time, or started your registration later in the year, you may be asked to submit your upgrade application in a different term. The Director of Graduate Studies will contact you and your supervisor with the details.

The Upgrade process is comprised of three parts:

Preparing the dossier

For the Upgrade, you must put together a dossier containing the following:

  • a cover sheet
  • thesis abstract (500 words), plus a list of chapters (this can be brief and subject to change, but your assessors will need to see that you can conceptualize your thesis as a whole)
  • time- tabled programme for completion: you need to say clearly which chapters you have already researched / drafted, and which you plan to research and write, and by when. It’s best to be realistic. We recognise, of course, that at this early stage you may not have worked on more than one or two chapters, and may not yet know the final shape of the thesis, but it’s important nonetheless to give a clear and accurate picture of how things look at the moment.
  • a sample chapter/section of chapter from the thesis (8,000-10,000 words exclusive of footnotes and bibliography)

You should begin planning your dossier with the help of your supervisor well before the due date. Your supervisor should read and comment on your sample chapter in plenty of time for you to make changes, as necessary. Your dossier must be emailed to the Postgraduate Programmes Officer by Friday 5th May (week 2, term 3). You may of course submit it in advance of this date, but not later.

Assessing your progress

Your submissions will be distributed to your supervisor and two assessors. Your supervisor will submit a report on progress so far, which will include a recommendation as to whether a change from M.Phil to PhD registration is advisable. During the second half of Term 3, Review Interviews, of 30-45 minutes each, take place. The Postgraduate Programmes Officer will confirm the date, time and location of the interview, which will be conducted by your two assessors. Your supervisor will not be present. You will be discussing your progress, and ways to improve it, with your two assessors, but this is also a chance for you to air your views and concerns, and to talk about your research in detail with someone other than your supervisor. Please note that it is your responsibility to be available for interview during this very crucial stage of your research career. Assessors will draw up reports of their views and record key points raised at the interview.

Notifying you of our recommendation

By the end of Term 3, the Director of Graduate Studies will consider all the reports and decide on the best and most useful action to be taken. You will be informed in writing of the outcome. The Director will also notify the Graduate School formally in writing of the outcome. Copies of the assessors’ reports will be sent to your supervisor by the end of term. You and your supervisor should agree to meet together at this time to review the assessors’ comments and to and plan your future work in the light of them. Where the decision is not to recommend a student for upgrading, the assessors will explain their reasons in a report issued to the supervisor, and a date will normally be set for the student to apply a second time. An MPhil student may apply for the upgrade only twice. In the event of a second upgrade application being turned down, the student has the right of appeal under certain conditions as set out in the University Regulations (the Director of Graduate Studies will be able to offer advice in such cases).