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MPhil/PhD Upgrade

During your period of study, you will be required to undergo a series of monitoring procedures. These are to ensure that you are progressing well with your studies, and to give you the vital opportunity to discuss and evaluate your progress with people other than your supervisors. Monitoring procedures occur on a number of different levels.


The M.Phil/PhD upgrade is an extremely 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 M.Phil/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: so, while there's undoubtedly an element of assessment, we see this as an enabling exercise, whereby students get the benefit and support of several 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 fifth 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 fifth 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 application deadline 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 falls into three parts:

1. Preparing the dossier: For the Upgrade, you must put together three copies (four if you have two supervisors) of a dossier containing the following:

• Cover sheet

• Thesis abstract (500 words)

• List of chapter titles

• 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 of 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.

2. Assessing your progress: Your submissions will immediately be distributed to your supervisor and two assessors (i.e. members of staff in your general field). One of those assessors will be your mentor (except in cases of staff leave). Your supervisor will submit a report on progress so far. In appropriate cases, this will include a recommendation as to whether a chnage from M.Phil to PhD registration is advisable. During weeks 7 to 9, Review Interviews, of 30 minutes each, take place. You will be contacted by the postgraduate secretary to fix a time for the interview, which will be conducted by 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 the key points raised at the interview.

3. Notifying you of our recommendation: 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 some time after week 10, and the Director of Graduate Studies will also notify the Graduate School formally of the outcome. Copies of the assessors' reports will be sent to your supervisors by the end of term. You and your supervisor should agree to meet together at this time to review the assessor's comments and to 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 the second upgrade application being turned down, the student has a right of appeal under certain conditions set out in the University Regulations (the Director of Graduate Studies will be able to offer advice in such cases). Details of the Department's appeal procedure in cases where a second upgrade attempt has been unsuccessful, or in cases where disagreements occur between assessors and/or assessors or supervisors can be found under ‘Postgraduate Policies’ on the Staff Intranet. Details of this will be made available to students in such cases.