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3rd Year PhD Students

Progress Report and Research Plan

As in the second year, students are asked to produce a short research plan at the start of the year. It should consist of not more than 2 pages (500-1000 words), outlining progress to date and a plan of work, including appropriate milestones. Any problems that threaten to delay thesis production should be highlighted together with proposed solutions.

This plan should be agreed with the supervisor and uploaded to SkillsForge by Week 4. Submission of the plan will be taken to mean agreement has been reached between student and supervisor. Where there are issues delaying progress or the plans are not satisfactory the Director of Graduates may require the student to also attend an interview.

Thesis Plan

If your studentship is funded for <3.5 years, students need to prepare a thesis plan and submit it via SkillsForge approximately six months before the end of their funded period. If you have funding for 3.5-4 years, or are self-funded, such a thesis plan is due at the start of your 4th year.

As with the progress reports and research plan, the plan should be agreed with the supervisor and submitted via SkillsForge. Submission of the plan will be taken to mean agreement has been reached between student and supervisor.

The reason for producing a plan are to demonstrate :

  • there is suficient material to write about
  • the student has thought about the structure of the thesis and the approximate length of each section
  • the timescale for finishing

The thesis plan should contain:

  • a list of chapter headings down to sub-section level
  • a rough indication of the number of pages for each section (see note on thesis length)
  • the state of each section (e.g. % complete, in draft form, data awaiting analysis, experiments completed, experiments failed because …, more experiments needed, not thought about yet)
  • for the incomplete parts, especially experiments, an estimate of when they will be done should be included
  • a schedule of work, indicating a timetable for completing the thesis
  • expected submission date

The length of the thesis plan is not important compared to the information contained. It will probably be more than one side of A4 but less than 5.

Students who do not expect to submit before the end of their funded period will also need to consider how they will be supported and must remember that the thesis must have been submitted by the end of their registration period which is at most 4 years after your start date.

Doctoral Skills/SkillsForge Portfolio

You will need to continue updating your SkillsForge portfolio as set out in the first year regulations. This will be reviewed together with your research plans for the year.

You will again perform a Training Needs Analysis to identify your strengths and areas requiring further development, both in respect of the specific project and more general skill development.

Departmental Colloquia and Research Group Seminars

Physics Colloquia are open to the whole department are held each fortnight during full term, on Wednesday starting at 4:30pm in PLT. These aim to bring a wide variety of cutting edge research from high profile speakers to the attention of a general audience of physicists. The level is suitable for all staff, postgraduates and final year MPhys students.

Attendance at these colloquia is compulsory for all PhD students as part of their general training programme.

In addition, the various research groups have their own seminars and it is usual practise for PhD students to attend.

Conference Presentations

PhD students will normally attend at least one UK and one international conference during their training period. This will give you experience of presenting your own work and meeting the experts in your particular field. The Department has allocated certain funds for each student to pay for the registration and travel expenses. There are other sources of funds for students who want to go to more conferences, especially if presenting a paper: look to your research group's grant portfolio, ask the conference organisers to waive the registration fee, apply to the Institute of Physics or other charities