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Monitoring Procedures

Academic departments are responsible for:

(a) Establishing and operating clearly documented monitoring procedures for research student progress, including feedback to students on their progress, which are consistent with University and external funding body policy and which are well-understood by both staff and students. Such monitoring procedures should comply with the Good Practice Guide on Monitoring Student Attendance and Progress.

(b) Maintaining a record of student progress in the departmental student file. It is expected that departments should have established systems to ensure that the frequency and length of supervisory meetings with postgraduate research students are recorded, noting that PGR supervisory meetings are expected to be held at least once a month.

(c) Ensuring that the departmental student file contains a record of the student’s attendance at compulsory training sessions or seminars and a full note of the outcome of any upgrade or review and of any difficulties experienced by the student which may affect the progress of their research programme. Student files, whether physical or electronic e.g. via the Tabula platform should be maintained for the duration of the student’s registration at the University and should not be solely reliant on copies of email correspondence between supervisor(s) and the Student. Students should also be given the opportunity to record their own activities, through personal development plans and/or individual web pages.

(d) PGR students are normally responsible for filing reports after a supervisory meeting recording discussions and any relevant action points, with supervisors confirming the content of these reports are accurate before adding to a student’s file. There are no expectations as to length or format of these reports and departments may wish to develop standard forms to record such information.

(e) The Graduate School will operate a process whereby there are spot checks to ensure that academic department’s operations in relation to recording students’ progress and monitoring are aligned with the University’s Guidelines on Supervision and Monitoring.

(f) Encouraging students to begin work on the research project at the start of the period of registration. The early submission of a piece of written work will help to identify any areas in which further training or development is needed. Departments may wish to require the submission of a formal piece of written work within the first six months of registration.

(g) Arrangements for upgrade from MPhil to PhD registration.

Unless there is prior approval from the Chair of the Board of Graduate Studies, PhD students within the faculties of Arts, Medicine and Social Studies will be registered for the degree of MPhil initially and will be upgraded to PhD registration subject to satisfactory performance. Additionally, a number of Science departments have adopted a MPhil/PhD model of registration although this is not applied across the whole of the faculty as of September 2012. The Departmental Director of Graduate Studies or Chair of Department is required to recommend the upgrade of a student’s registration to the Graduate School. Upgrade to PhD registration is normally expected to take place within the first 9-12 months of registration for full time students, and 18-24 months for part-time students. Should a student fail their first attempt at upgrading they shall normally be afforded a second opportunity to upgrade, noting that this should be held within six months of their initial upgrade (one year for part-time students). Where an upgrade is scheduled at the same point of the year as the annual review would be held there is no need to hold the latter.

Upgrade of registration should not be recommended until a student has completed a review as set out below.

Regulation 38.9 describes the appeals process that can be initiated by a student if a department makes a recommendation that he/she be allowed to continue his/her registration only for the degree of MPhil or be required to be withdrawn.

(h) Annual reviews of Student Progress

i. The University considers the aim of an annual review to be:

a) To ensure that a Student’s work and progress to date is satisfactory and in line with the Department’s expectations;

b) To identify any barriers to a student submitting their thesis for examination within their registration period;

c) To offer support and guidance to enhance the quality of a student’s work and experience at Warwick;

d) To identify areas of ongoing professional development;

e) To ensure that effective support structures are in place, including a strong student-supervisory relationship.

The University expects that all students undertake an annual review throughout the period of their registration; the first will be held in the initial 9 – 12 months of the student’s registration (and part-time equivalent) and every year thereafter.

ii. In instances where a student is initially registered on a MPhil/PhD qualification, the MPhil upgrade acts as the first annual review.

iii. Departments may schedule additional progress reviews at other intervals of a student’s registration noting that the frequency of these should be highlighted to students within course guidelines and student handbooks.

iv. In the final year of registration (4th year for full-time PhD students), a review after six months should focus particularly on progress made in the writing up period and steps to be taken to submit within the student’s registration period.

v. Annual review and upgrade processes are also a useful point at which to assess ethical concerns and record ethical approval where appropriate, in line with guidance found on the University’s Research Governance and Ethics website.

vi. Students should be notified of the nature and form of the review. Departments are encouraged to advise students of the composition of the review panel well in advance. Students should be advised that they may, for good reason, request a change to the composition of the review panel in advance of its meeting and departments should have in place a clear procedure for the consideration of such requests.

vii. Review Panels are expected to be physical meetings rather than a paper based exercise, although with the agreement of all concerned, attendees may attend through video-conferencing should it be necessary e.g. a student or staff member is temporarily located overseas on fieldwork.

viii. Review panels should be composed of at least two members of staff not involved in the supervision of the student. Departments are encouraged to consider the involvement of members of staff from cognate disciplines (for instance, involved in the same CDT) and/or individuals external to the University who can provide additional perspectives to the research.

ix. It is expected that supervisors are involved in the annual review process, either by being present at the review, or by submitting a statement on student progress to date. There must be an opportunity for both student and supervisor to advise the review panel of any concerns or difficulties in confidence, and the review panel is expected to meet the student to discuss progress.

x. Supervisors are expected to be involved in the annual review process and to submit a statement on student progress, highlighting any areas of best practice or concern in advance of the meeting being held. Departments may also ask supervisors to attend the progress meetings and if so, there should remain an opportunity for the student to make representations in-confidence to the Panel.

xi. Any information available to the panel should also be made available to the student, including any report on progress submitted to the panel by the supervisor(s). The panel should normally reach a preliminary decision without further reference to the supervisor(s) but may feel it appropriate to discuss with the supervisor(s) its recommendation and any notes of guidance it is intended to issue to the student in advance of doing so. The supervisor(s) would not normally otherwise be involved in the review decision.

xii. Review panels should consider the submission of a substantial piece of written work – the length and breadth of which should be stipulated within departmental guidelines. Should a supervisor not be able to attend the Review or the Department’s guidelines do not permit supervisors to attend, a statement is expected to be submitted to the Panel noting the quality of the work submitted.

xiii. This will be complemented by a student statement on their Professional Development (by students entering the University from 1 October 2017) of 300 words, and a timetable of expected further progress, as well as any other inputs the department deems necessary.

xiv. Review Panels are expected to provide feedback to students on their annual review. Supervisors should also be informed of the outcome so that they can support the student. Panels should highlight areas of best practice and concern to the Student, and further advice and guidance to enable students to better undertake their research. Panels should also highlight areas where a student may benefit from further professional development. A formal note of the outcome of the review, including any notes of guidance given to the student, should be kept on the student’s file.

xv. Where progress is deemed unsatisfactory then the Department should consider the best way to provide further support to ensure that the student is able to succeed in their research. The student should be permitted to resubmit the piece of work or repeat the oral presentation within an agreed timescale. If the final outcome of the review is that progress is unsatisfactory this should be considered by a further member of staff not involved in the supervision of the student (e.g. the Director of Graduate Studies or Head of Department).

xvi. Should a department conclude that, after providing further support and guidance and after a sustained period of poor performance, the student is unable to fulfil the requirements of the degree for which they are registered, they may consider proposing that the student be permanently withdrawn via a Continuation of Registration Committee.

(i) Putting in place procedures for monitoring progress during any period of fieldwork or study away from the University, in line with the Guidelines for the Supervision of Research Students Based Away from the University. This might include an expectation of regular contact with the supervisor, for example through email if meetings are not possible. The student may also be expected to submit regular brief reports of progress during the period of field work.

(j) Departments are expected to monitor the progress of students nearing the end of their period of registration particularly closely so that the member of staff responsible for postgraduate research students is aware of cases where a student is likely to find it difficult to complete on time. The situation should be discussed with the student and supervisor to agree a plan to improve progress.

Next = SECTION: 5. Unsatisfactory Progress