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Course Handbook for Research Students


The course regulations for research degrees in the Department of Physics are framed with the following objectives:

  1. To ensure that each postgraduate student continues to receive a training in physics that will deepen their understanding of the general subject area underlying the research project and broaden their knowledge of related areas, so the results of the project can be interpreted fully and set in context.
  2. To assess the progress of the student at all stages of the project: judge whether it is compatible with completion of the project for PhD/MSc thesis submission within their period of registration and initiate any changes necessary.
  3. To provide practise in writing and oral communication, so the student can present their thesis and defend it adequately in the subsequent viva.
  4. To provide a personal development and training framework within which students may increase their transferable skills.

Detailed Course Regulations

The table lists typical activities that students undertake at each stage of their degree, and provides links to the detailed course regulations and requirements for each stage. The progression dates given assume that students start at the beginning of October: for students beginning at another time of the year these dates will be adjusted accordingly in their first year of study.



PhD Year 1

PhD Year 2

PhD Year 3 & PhD Year 4

MSc By Research

Typical activities:
  • Research
  • Physics Graduate School
  • Doctoral Skills
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Physics Graduate School
  • Doctoral Skills
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Thesis writing, submission, viva.
  • Doctoral Skills
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Thesis writing, submission and assessment.


Description of Activities

Throughout your postgraduate research degree as part of your research project you will engage with your research supervisor and a wider collaborative team, which include colleagues from within the Department, University and externally. PhD students obtain a deeper knowledge of physics by completing courses from the Physics Graduate School, and gain important research and transferable skills by completing the Doctoral Skills component of the degree. More information about each aspect is available on the following pages.

Physics Graduate School

Graduate-level taught physics courses from MPAGS and elsewhere.

Doctoral Skills

Personal training and development; transferable skills.


Guide to how PG research students are supervised.

Submission Deadlines and Important Dates

Annual Leave Policy

Thesis Writing and Submission

The most significant single work of the PhD and MSc by Research is the completion of the thesis. Please see the detailed guide to the Thesis Writing and Submission process.

To see examples of previous theses from students in the Department please look at the WRAP archive here.

For most PhD students in the Warwick Physics Department, the training and research has been designed around 3-3.5 years of funding and full time students are expected to submit their thesis close to the end of their funded period. The maximum period of registration, regardless of funding, is 4 years. This deadline is absolute and students will not normally be allowed to submit at all after it. You will have received a letter that clearly states your intended submission and funding end-dates to make sure you plan according to this timeline. Note that the Doctoral College is enforcing the rule that students must submit within 4 years rigorously. Students will be withdrawn from the course if they cross this line even by a day.

Exceptions to this require truly exceptional circumstances. Please refer to the Doctoral College web page for more details.

Our full time MSc students are registered for 1 year. They will get an automatic three month extension as their end of registration date approaches.

Students may be part-time, in which case their period of registration is proportionately longer. Again there is a one year extension available for completion.

Student Support & Welfare

Detailed information about the many support mechanisms available is on our Student Support & Welfare page. In the event that you have a medical or personal issue that you think will affect your course and are unsure what to do, please contact the PG co-ordinator in the first instance to check how to proceed.

If you have a complaint to make or would like to formally appeal an assessed component of your degree, please see the information about complaints & appeals procedures.

If you have decided to temporarily suspend working towards your degree then you can apply for temporary withdrawal from the course. Please discuss this with your supervisor, PG co-ordinator and the Director of Graduate Studies in order to assess whether this is the right step to take, as it has financial and visa implications. Further details are on the university's Student Records Management page about Temporary Withdrawal.