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Academic and Welfare Matters

This page contains important information for all postgraduate students on attendance, extenuating/mitigating circumstances, appeals, feedback and complaints and plagiarism.

Attendance and monitoring

All departments are required by the University to monitor your academic engagement and progress using a number of monitoring points. This gives the department an opportunity to identify those students who are not engaging with their studies.

For postgraduate students the process is not onerous. A monitoring form that requires your (dated) signature against various meetings and events throughout the year is used to show that you have met these monitoring points. Each time you sign the form, you will also need to get your supervisor (\tutor) to countersign the form. Typically you will need to show that you have attended (at least 3) meetings with your supervisor spread across each term (although of course you are expected to attend all scheduled meetings) as well as meet other deadlines and attend relevant activities. Your supervisor’s signature should be acquired at the time of the meeting and not left until the end of each reporting period which is the end of each term and summer vacation. Meetings/electronic contact with your supervisor is also required over the summer period. There will also be a small number of other monitoring points which are dependent on your year of study (for PhD students) or programme (MSc, MASt or PhD) e.g. submission of progress reports for PhD students.

All students are expected to fully engage with their studies and meet the monitoring points. Copies of the monitoring forms are placed on the postgraduate notice board.

The monitoring process will be straightforward in the vast majority of cases. If you see your supervisor when you are asked, hand in progress reports when required, register for modules if required to do so when asked to do so, etc, then none of this will affect you as the monitoring points will be ticked off. If you build up missed monitor points then it will be a signal to the department that you may not be engaging with your degree.

If you are unable to meet with your supervisor due to his/her absence, you will not be penalised. On-line communication (where possible) between your supervisor and yourself would be sufficient in such cases. Similarly, if you are unable to attend meetings for medical reasons, you should ensure your supervisor is made fully aware of the circumstances.

Please be aware that you will be contacted should we become concerned about your missed Contact Points.

A. After three Contact Points are missed we will contact you to investigate whether you are having any problems that are preventing you from fully engaging with your course.

B. After four Contact Points are missed we may refer you to the relevant professional within the University welfare system who could help you, such as the Senior Tutor or the Counselling Service, as appropriate.

C. After five Contact Points are missed you will be contacted to make you aware that you are at risk of being recommended for termination of your registration at the University.

D. After six Contact Points are missed the Department is able to invoke Regulation 36 (see below link to the University Calendar) to begin termination of registration proceedings and your case is handed over to the Academic Office.

International students should be particularly aware of the consequences of missing Contact Points: the Academic Office is obliged to report to the UK Borders Agency if any students have been found not to be engaging with and attending their degree course.

Extenuating/Mitigating Circumstances

Extenuating or mitigating circumstances are those events which have had a detrimental effect on your study, to the point that it is in your interest to draw your department’s attention to them and ask for them to be considered in mitigation of poor performance. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) illness, both bodily and emotional; the severe illness or death of a close family member; a shocking or traumatic personal experience. In addition, sudden, unexpected changes in family circumstances might affect your ability to make academic progress as a consequence of their demonstrable emotional impact upon you, and may also be considered as mitigation.

The University is aware that in some cultures it is considered shameful or embarrassing to disclose the details of these kinds of circumstances to those outside one’s family. This is not the case in the prevailing UK culture and you should be aware that the department and the University are fully supportive of students in difficult circumstances and want to assist if at all possible. If you feel inhibited from talking to your supervisor or other member of staff in the first instance, you may also consider talking to a member of your SGSLC, the Students’ Union, the University Senior Tutor or a member of staff in Student Support for initial, informal advice.

Clearly, though, in order for your circumstances to be considered as mitigating by the department, they must be conveyed formally to someone in the department (a supervisor, the Director of PhD/MASt/MSc Studies, or Postgraduate Coordinator). The University expects that you will discuss your circumstances before Exam Boards meet, so that they may be taken into account in good time. You should be aware that, in the event you feel you need to appeal the outcome of an Exam Board, offering extenuating or mitigating circumstances at that point will need to be accompanied by a very good reason why you withheld the information earlier. Without wanting to invade your privacy, the University does expect that you bring such circumstances to the department’s attention in a timely manner, despite the discomfort you might feel in so doing. Failure to disclose such circumstances at a time when you could have done so may subsequently be problematic. We will do all we can to support you in difficult situations.

Please refer to the information available from the University page:


Complaints, Feedback and Appeals

We aim to ensure that you will find your time with us satisfying, challenging and rewarding and encourage you to use the various methods available to you to improve and develop our courses, services, working environment, or any other issue of concern, for example through use of feedback forms, raising a matter with your supervisor, Director of Graduate or MSc Studies, the Departmental Administrator, another member of staff, or a SGSLC representative, etc.

If you are not satisfied with the response you get, you should contact the head of department, Professor John Greenlees, either requesting a meeting, or in writing.

The department takes all complaints and suggestions seriously and will respond to the points raised.

The University also has information on seeking feedback, academic complaints, appeals and various other matters (see student feedback and complaints, postgraduate taught appeals, postgraduate research appeals). These describe the informal and formal channels available to you as a student.


Cheating (including Plagiarism)

Plagiarism is copying another person's writings or ideas and presenting them as your own. It covers copying from the internet, from books or other published sources, and from friends or other students. Though some examples of plagiarism are very obvious, there are circumstances - for example where students are encouraged to work together but to write up their results separately - where you may need to seek advice about what is and what is not allowed. If you are uncertain you should ask.

Cheating also covers more obvious sins such as copying in tests, stealing work from other students (either electronically or in another way), or taking your mobile phone into an examination. Note that you are guilty of cheating if you assist another student to cheat (for example by allowing them to copy your work). Both cheating and plagiarism are taken very seriously by the Department. The University rules governing how cases are dealt with are in Regulation 11 of the University Calendar.