The Doctoral College strongly encourages students and supervisors to be creative and adaptive in considering any changes they could make to particular research projects and to consider what can be achieved that will mitigate against the effects of Covid-19 related disruption. However it is recognised that in some cases students may wish to inform examiners of the impact of Covid-19 related disruption on their research. Examiners will consider this statement alongside the student’s thesis and performance in the oral examination (if held), but will ensure that the University Requirements for the Award of Research Degrees are met and the integrity of the examination is maintained before the recommendation of any award.
Guidance for students
Any PGR student submitting their thesis for examination before the end of December 2021 (subject to review – may be extended further) may choose to submit a Covid-19 impact statement alongside their thesis. The statement is not compulsory and should only be included where a student wishes to highlight the impact of the pandemic and the changes made to their research as a result. Students considering the submission of a Covid-19 impact statement should discuss with their supervisor(s) in the first instance.
Covid-19 statements, not exceeding 600 words, should be submitted to the Doctoral College together with the thesis for examination. Students may wish to include:
- Details of planned research activities disrupted due to the impact of Covid-19 e.g. inability to undertake/complete fieldwork as a result of travel restrictions, lack of or reduced access to facilities such as labs/libraries/archives, changes in the way in which they were able to liaise with research participants etc
- An explanation of the expected impact on the thesis if the stated research activities had not been disrupted and how disruption was mitigated against (where possible)
- Any other relevant factors relating to the impact of Covid-19 related disruption on the research
The statement should not include reference to issues arising from personal circumstances such as illness, disability or funding issues relating to Covid-19 as these should be addressed through other mechanisms e.g. temporary withdrawal, extension. In submitting a statement, students agree that the contents will be provided to their examination team (usually internal examiner, external examiner and examination advisor).
Guidance for examiners
Examiners are responsible for ensuring that academic standards are upheld in relation to the University Requirements for the Award of Research Degrees. Where a student has submitted a Covid-19 impact statement, examiners may wish to allow some flexibility in relation to the scope and volume of the thesis, such as where the planned research activities have been disrupted, but not in relation to its quality or the criteria for the recommendation of an award.
As the examiners’ recommendation is a matter of academic judgement, it is their decision as to the allowance given to the scope and/or volume of the thesis in relation to the reported disruption experienced by the student. Examiners are asked to consider the information provided by the student and to decide whether, in their academic judgement, the research meets the requirements for the award of the appropriate degree.
Examiners are asked to confirm that they have considered the Covid-19 impact statement in their joint report to the Doctoral College.
If examiners recommend that corrections or a resubmission is required, these should only be those necessary to meet the criteria for the award and not to address the disrupted research activities.