Skip to main content Skip to navigation

PhD Year 1

For further detail and information on this topic, current students and staff may use the >> Handbook <<Link opens in a new window

The first year of your studies will provide an essential foundation of necessary mathematical and generic tools to enable you to complete a successful and rewarding PhD, as well as preparing you for your future career. During Year 1 you will be required to undergo training ranging from gaining a broader knowledge of mathematics through taught modules, seminars and workshops, to enhancing professional skills. All PhD students are initially registered on the MPhil degree. Subject to satisfactory progress, students will be upgraded to the PhD after approximately 12 months of full time enrolment.

Taught Modules

During the first year students are required to complete 4 modules. A detailed list of options can be found on the tab in the right. The only restriction that applies is that at least 2 of the modules should be level MA9. Please note that MA926 is compulsory but does not count towards the 4 modules.

Please discuss module choices with your supervisors.

Professional and Transferable Skills

In your first year, you will be required to undertake professional and transferable skills training detailed here. The focus in the first year is on computing skills and on communication skills, i.e. how to give an engaging seminar, writing skills, time management, networking and team building. New postgraduate research students are additionally required to maintain a personal web-page.


During Term 3 and over the summer students are required to complete a project. This will be due at the end of August, and will be a key part in assessing progression.

In some cases, it may be possible to clearly define your project at the outset of your studies. In many other cases, a more precise project definition may not emerge until later in your studies. In both cases, the very nature of research means that initial project outlines will necessarily evolve as you gain a deeper understanding of your subject area and as the research proceeds. It is not unusual in mathematics to change the direction of the research if difficulties arise that appear intractable. Nevertheless, it is important that students document an initial project outline/plan in collaboration with the supervisor. This will be due in week 5 of Term 2.

The outline/plan should identify goals and key tasks for the first year of the PhD studies and should include:

  • A brief outline of the project. For some projects this will be initially quite general. For others, it may be possible to define the project in more detail from the outset. As noted above, deviations from the project outline are possible. Nevertheless, documenting the project outline at this stage will enable you to give some initial consideration to your project and concurrently provide focus for the first year of study.
  • Introductory reading list. These are texts (e.g. journal papers, book chapters, articles) recommended by your supervisor that will help to increase your understanding of the project area and related fields.

Progress Report

First year PhD students are required to submit a progress report to the supervisor and the Postgraduate Coordinator by the end of week 5 of the Summer Term. Timings will be adjusted for students who do not begin their studies by October. At this stage it is not expected that students will have completed original research, but they should be able to demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the relevant literature.


A formal Progression Board will meet 3 times a year (March, June and September), to monitor students' progress.

In order to ensure progression students must complete the transferable skills training, pass all four modules with a mark above 60 and complete a research project with a mark above 60.

The board will consider exam marks in March and June and may offer the possibility of resit exams. Progress reports on the project will be considered at the board in June.

The September Progression Board will consider all results and subject to satisfactory progress, the Board will recommend that students will be upgraded to the PhD. Students who remain on the MPhil will after the September Board have 1 further year to complete their MPhil thesis.

Continued registration is subject to satisfactory progress. In exceptional circumstances, the Board may require that a student withdraw from the programme.