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The University expects research students to complete their studies within their set period of registration. For students who commenced their studies prior to 1 August 2011, this is usually 3 years for a PhD registration (please see below for specific guidance on students commencing after this date). Where this is not possible, students may apply for a period of extension. All research students, regardless of the type of research degree or mode of study (i.e. full-time, part-time), are eligible for a maximum of 12 months extension. Included within this is a period of 3 months automatic extension, which is automatically coded to the student’s record. An application can therefore be made for a further period of 9 months. Students submitting their thesis beyond a maximum of 4 years are considered as non-submitters for the purposes of University submission statistics, therefore extensions taking a student beyond 4 years will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.

Grounds for extension

Extensions may be applied for where circumstances have prevented a student from making sufficient progress. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Personal reasons (i.e. family issues, financial constraints)
  • Health reasons (i.e. medical conditions affecting progress, including long-term conditions)
  • Academic reasons (i.e. changing supervisory arrangements, equipment/resource issues)

Please note that work commitments do not qualify as grounds for an extension. Students should be discouraged from committing to paid employment alongside full-time research if this cannot be balanced effectively against their studies. Students do have the option to transfer to part-time study where paid employment is interfering with their progress.

Process for applications2

As a supervisor you will play a key role in your supervisees’ applications for extension. Where a supervisee is nearing the end of their registration period, and it is clear that more time is required, you should undertake a thorough review of work completed to date.

Your supervisee will need to formulate a clear and realistic work plan, leading to successful submission of the thesis by the new deadline. You should review the plan and suggest any amendment if you feel this is not feasible. Once you are satisfied with the feasibility of the plan, you should indicate your support for this and forward it to the Director of Graduate Studies in your department.

Please note that a period of extension is to allow students to write up their thesis, not for conducting further research. Library access will be maintained during this period, but students will not normally be entitled to laboratory or other resources provided by the department. Your role is to provide advice on the writing up of the work and to monitor the student’s progress to ensure they remain on track to submit by the revised deadline.

Issues arising pre-submission

If it becomes clear that your supervisee will not manage to submit their thesis within the maximum 12 month period of extension, an application for a further period of extension will need to be made before the expiry of this period. This will only be granted in exceptional circumstances, usually where there are significant personal difficulties or health grounds. Such cases will be considered by the Chair of the Boar of Graduate Studies. If an extension request is refused, a student will be required to permanently withdraw from the University but may be able to submit a ‘leave to submit’ request for consideration by the Chair of the Boar of Graduate Studies, at such time that they are ready to submit.

MPhil/PhD students who commenced registration or or after 1 August 20112

Since 1 August 2011 the standard registration period issued to these students is 4 years (7 years part-time). This removes the need to actively apply for extensions, although students are still expected to submit at the end of 3 years, with the fourth year regarded as a ‘writing-up’ year only. Extensions beyond this period will be considered in the same way as those exceeding the usual 12 months, i.e. only in exceptional circumstances.

Please follow this link for further guidance on the policy relating to extensions for PGR students.