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Biological SciencesPostgraduate study

Supervision & progress

In Biological Sciences we offer the support students need in order to achieve research work of the highest calibre.


As a postgraduate we will expect you to take a high level of responsibility for your own progress. However, you will be working within a well-considered, accountable supervisory structure. This should help you to identify and manage any issues - academic or otherwise - that may arise during your research work.

You will almost certainly have already met your supervisor as part of the recruitment process. As an expert in your chosen area of research, he or she will provide the primary source of guidance on academic content and methods. At least once a year each supervisor is required to provide a report on the progress of each research student under his/her supervision.


You will be allocated a second member of academic staff as your advisor, who is likely to be an expert in a related area. This provides you with an opportunity for you to discuss your work with another qualified person. The advisor also plays a role in monitoring your progress and acts as an independent assessor and examiner for your various reports, most notably the transfer report. You should plan to meet your advisor regularly and develop a comfortable working relationship with them.

Key reporting stages

Through your postgraduate study, there are a number of formal stages of reporting. Initially you will register for an MPhil award. Within the first six months you should produce a report that outlines the main aims and objectives of your research project, plus a literature review and details of any methodologies to be used.

Ten months after registration, you should to present a further report which in some instances could incorporate a grant proposal. You will also have a face-to-face examination with your supervisor and another member of academic staff. Together these are designed to demonstrate that you have established a strong base for your postgraduate research.

Before 22 months, you should produce a transfer report. This makes the case to the examiners that you have made sufficient progress with the project and you are likely to produce a thesis to PhD standard in the remaining period. If you do not qualify for the transfer, you can write up your research for an MPhil award.

Final assessment for PhD award

Your final assessment is through a combination of your thesis, viva voce, and a portfolio demonstrating your research and transferable skills.

Photo of Katy Stubbs
Postgraduate life is very different to undergraduate life, but I think I actually prefer it! Whilst the pressure is higher, I organise my time and how I work to suit me. With the support and guidance of my supervisor, I drive my project and feel real ownership over the work I am doing.
Katy StubbsPostgraduate research student in Neuroscience

Order a prospectus

Our latest Biological Sciences Postgraduate prospectus contains all the essential information about studying for a postgraduate degree.

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