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Doctoral College

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Progression Milestones

Progression Milestones are key stages of your candidature. They comprise of an Academic Needs Analysis (ANA), Activity Report, First Progression Review, Confirmation and Third Progression Review.

This page will guide you through each Milestone.

 

Academic Needs Analysis

Academic Needs Analysis (ANA)

The purpose of the academic needs analysis to identify and document at least the following:

  • the research area and an initial outline of the project plan.
  • sources of information, resources and equipment that may be required.
  • any ethical or other regulatory approval that may be required before the research is undertaken.
  • any mandatory training that has to be undertaken as part of University, Faculty or School requirements.
  • existing skills and any training that you will need to undertake to commence the research.
  • existing skills and training that you will undertake to develop you as an individual.
  • any likely impact of the research and any plans to control/exploit this.

The review should be carried out jointly with your supervisory team and be completed on PGR Tracker by the end of the third month following the start of candidature (whether you are full or part time).

The academic needs analysis should be reviewed continually and formally considered at each progression review.

 

Activity Reports

Students Who Began Their Studies After 1 August 2016 - Activity Reports

All students are expected to complete and submit activity reports throughout the research phase of their candidature. The first activity report should be submitted by the end of month 4 of the research phase of the student's candidature and then every three months from then on (see report template below for details of timings). It is the student's responsibility to ensure that they complete and submit these reports in a timely fashion. Completion and submission of activity reports will be used as an indicator of academic engagement, and discussed during their progression reviews.

If a student's studies are funded partly or fully by an external organisation, there may be a requirement for the student or supervisor to complete additional reports for the student's sponsor. These reports do not form part of the University's progression processes. As part of the annual enrolment process, all students give their consent for the University to provide appropriate information on request to third parties, such as sponsoring organisations.

First Progression Review

Progression Review

The first review takes place within a period of 8-10 months from enrolment. The review includes a viva, which is conducted by an internal independent assessor, proposed by the supervisor, and approved by the Director of the Faculty Graduate School. A member of the supervisory team will normally be in attendance. In exceptional circumstances, with the permission of the Director of the Faculty Graduate School, an external independent assessor may be appointed.

Prior to the review, the student is required to submit written work. This should be done at least four working weeks in advance of the decision deadline to allow the panel to consider the material, hold a viva, and make a recommendation within the specified timeframe. For instance, in the case of the full-time PhD programme, for the First attempt review1 the respective written report must be submitted at least 4 weeks before the end of Month 10.

Failure to submit a written report by the specified deadline will result in a failure of the respective progression review attempt.

The written work will provide:

  • Between 3,000-5,000 words providing an·overview of the research problem, its critical context and the rationale and/or approach of the project, as well as detailed plans for practice-based work and/or data analysis. It is also useful to think of this written component as developmental the overview required at the second progression review (see below) and for the final introduction of the PhD thesis.
  • Minimum 5,000 words literature review.

For the first progression review, it is necessary to show that the candidate:

  • Is undertaking a viable research project
  • Has made satisfactory progress to date
  • Has developed an adequately detailed plan of work to enable the research degree to be completed within the registration period *Has defined the preliminary scope of the project adequately
  • Has made an appropriate survey of the relevant literature and demonstrated an ability to make critical evaluation of published work
  • Has acquired an appropriate knowledge and understanding of applicable research methods
  • Has begun discussing the ethical implications of their research with their supervisory team and can articulate how these are incorporated into their research plan

NB. For practice-based research, candidates should arrange to show work in progress, which is in addition to the above written submission. This can be installation of work or documentation of work. If the former, candidates must make the arrangements to display work appropriately. The review will assess the written report and academic needs of the candidate. If the mandatory Ethics 1 module has yet been completed it should be included in the student's training plan, with the view of completing it before the 2nd (Confirmation) Review.

The recommendation from the First Progression Review can be one of the following:

  1. to progress to the next stage of candidature;
  2. to re-assess.

If re-assessment is recommended, the research student will be given written guidance on preparation for their second (and final) attempt. The second attempt at the first Progression Review will have the same format as the first attempt, and will usually be conducted by the same panel as for the first attempt. In exceptional circumstances, the Director of the Faculty Graduate School may wish to appoint a third panel member and/or an independent note taker. The second attempt will involve a re-viva. An independent chair for re-viva will be appointed by the Director of the Faculty Graduate School. However, if the assessors deem that the revised written submission is sufficient to progress, the re-viva may not be necessary. The assessment of the second attempt will lead to one of the following recommendations: 

  1. to progress to the next stage of candidature;
  2. to terminate the student's candidature.

Confirmation

Progression Review 2 (Confirmation)

Progression Review 2, also referred to as Confirmation, is conducted by two assessors from WSA who have had no involvement in the student's research and supervisor(s). Confirmation involves a viva, which is conducted by the internal independent assessors, proposed by the supervisor, and approved by the Director of the Faculty Graduate School. A member of the supervisory team will normally be in attendance, however, research students can request the opportunity to meet the confirmation panel without a supervisor being present. This request should be made through the Faculty Graduate School Office. In exceptional circumstances, with the permission of the Director of the Faculty Graduate School, an external independent assessor may be appointed. One of these members of staff should act as chair of the panel. One of the independent assessors can be the assessor used for the first Progression Review. The final decision on whether to allow confirmation is made by the assessors.

A mini-thesis must be submitted at least four working weeks in advance of the decision deadline to allow the panel to consider the material, hold a viva, and make a recommendation within the specified timeframe. For instance, in the case of the full-time PhD programme, for the First attempt review, the respective written report must be submitted at least 4 weeks before the end of Month 21. Failure to submit a mini-thesis by the specified deadline will result in a failure of the respective progression review attempt.

Candidates must demonstrate the ability to:

  • manage the research project  become proficient in the special field of research involved
  • achieve success at PhD level given adequate motivation and perseverance

The panel must also satisfy themselves that:

  • the project being undertaken is of sufficient scope, originality and theoretical interest to constitute a genuine contribution to the subject in the form of the understanding of a problem, the advancement of knowledge or the generation of new ideas

The written submission should comprise of:

  • Minimum 5,000 words providing an overview of the research problem, its critical context and the rationale and/or approach of the project, as well as detailed plans for practice-based work and/or data analysis.
  • A literature review, or an equivalent substantive chapter or component of the thesis (usually between 10,000 — 15,000 words)

NB. For practice-based research, candidates should arrange to show work in progress, which is in addition to the above written submission. This can be installation of work or documentation of work. If the former, candidates must make the arrangements to display work appropriately.

The panel will assess the written work submitted by the research student. In order for the PhD status to be confirmed, the following criteria must be met:

  • that the research student has demonstrated the ability to manage the research project, to become proficient in the special field of research involved, and to achieve success at PhD level given adequate motivation and perseverance;
  • that the project being undertaken is of sufficient scope, originality and theoretical interest to constitute a genuine contribution to the subject in the form of the understanding of a problem, the advancement of knowledge or the generation of new ideas.

The review will also conduct an academic needs analysis. By the date of the review, the candidate is required to complete the Ethics 1 module, and completed the intensive training week. Failure to complete these components will trigger the process of

Termination of the candidature due to significant academic concerns outside Progression review.

The Recommendation of the review panel must be supported by all its members and can be one of the following:

  • Successful confirmation; the candidate can proceed to the next stage of the PhD candidature for the final submission of the thesis. Research students who have been successful in their confirmation should receive written feedback on the confirmation process
  • highlighting, where appropriate, any potential areas of concern.
  • PhD candidature is not confirmed; the PhD candidate must be given a written report giving a statement of the reasons, guidance regarding any ways in which s/he might reach the required standard, and offered the opportunity for a second (and final) confirmation panel.       

The second attempt at the Confirmation Review will have the same format as the first attempt, and will usually be conducted by the same panel as for the first attempt. An independent chair for re-viva will be appointed by the Director of the Faculty Graduate School.

The second Confirmation panel may make one of three recommendations:

  • PhD candidature is confirmed;
  • the research student is transferred to an MPhil programme;  
  • the research student's candidature is terminated.

If a unanimous decision cannot be reached in either the first or second confirmation panel an additional assessor is appointed. This third assessor will be provided by the Faculty Graduate School Office with a copy of the confirmation report and the separate reports of the two original assessors. The additional assessor shall be permitted to interview the research student before submitting a final report and recommendation to the Director of the Faculty Graduate School who shall consider the independent reports of the original assessors and the report of the additional assessor before making a final decision.


 

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Third Progression Review

Progression Review 3

The third review involves a viva, based on the research student's written submission (first full draft thesis). This will be conducted by all the members of the supervisory team. It will also include a review of the academic needs analysis. A written submission should be made at least four working weeks in advance of the decision deadline to allow the panel to consider the material, hold meeting, and make a recommendation within the specified timeframe. For instance, in the case of the full time PhD programme, for the First attempt review, the respective written report must be submitted at least 4 weeks before the end of Month 33.

Failure to submit the required written work by the specified deadline will result in a failure of the respective progression review attempt.

In the main, having successfully completed the previous Progression Reviews and completed subsequent work (and having responded to any recommendations raised at Confirmation), candiates should be well on their way to completing their work. The third review is an opportünity, then, for formal feedback and guidance prior to final submission and in many cases the meeting can be treated as a mock-viva in preparation for final examination.

The review will lead to one of two recommendations:

  • to progress to the final stage of candidature;
  • to re-assess with a full panel within 3 months.

If re-assessment is recommended, the research student will be given written guidance on preparation for their second (and final) attempt. The second attempt at the Confirmation Review will have the same format as the first attempt, and will be conducted by a member of the supervisory team and an internal independent assessor appointed by the Director of the Faculty Graduate School. In exceptional circumstances, with the permission of the Director of the Faculty Graduate School, an external independent assessor may be appointed. In exceptional circumstances, the Director of the Faculty Graduate School may wish to appoint a third panel member, and/or an independent note taker

The second attempt at the third Progression Review will involve a re-viva. An independent chair for re-viva will be appointed by the Director of the Faculty Graduate School. However, if the assessors deem that the Report is sufficient to progress, the re-viva may not be necessary.

The review will lead to one of three recommendations:

  • to progress to the final stage of candidature
  • to transfer to MPhil candidature
  • to terminate the student's candidature

Thesis Submission

Intention to submit

You must inform your Faculty Graduate School Office of your intention to submit no later than two months before your date of submission. This should be done using the form on PGR Tracker; or if your Faculty does not use PGR Tracker, manually using the ‘Intention to submit’ form in the Quality Handbook, handed into your Faculty Graduate School Office. Information on decision and notification to submit can be found in paragraphs 82-83 in the Code of Practice for Research Candidature and Supervision.

Production and submission of the thesis

The requirements for the production of the thesis, and procedures for submission are set out in the Producing your thesis – a guide for research students and the Submitting your thesis – a guide for research students, both of which are available from the Quality Handbook. You should read this guidance carefully well in advance of preparing the final version of your thesis. Additional guidance for students submitting their thesis in an alternative format can be found in paragraphs 86-88 of the Code of Practice for Research Candidature and Supervision.

Thesis templates are available in Microsoft Word (PC and Mac) and LaTeX that match the required University specifications. Templates are available on the Library website.

Further information on thesis submission including: declaration of authorship; academic integrity; and thesis written in a language other than English, can be found in the Code of Practice for Research Candidature and Supervision, paragraphs 85, 89 & 90.

Thesis Submission

You will retain access to library and computing facilities until your thesis has been examined and, where appropriate, any revisions requested by the examiners have been made.

You can find useful information to assist you in preparing your thesis on the Library’s Theses webpages, which should be read in conjunction with the University’s Producing your thesis – a guide for research students and the Submitting your thesis – a guide for research students, both of which are available from the Quality Handbook. You are advised to read these well in advance. These guides cover help on the electronic submission of your thesis and supporting materials, including copyright, intellectual property rights, restrictions, file formats, and research data. Thesis templates using Microsoft Word (PC and Mac) and LaTeX are also accessible here. Support in using the Word PC and Mac templates is provided by iSolutions.

 

Viva Voce Examination

Once you have given notice of intention to submit, at least two examiners (one internal and one external to the University) will be appointed and arrangements made for your examination. The following information on the examination can be found in paragraphs 91–104 of the Code of Practice for Research Candidature and Supervision: nomination of examiners; the role of the main supervisor in the examination process; the viva voce examination itself; the recommendations of the examiners; and consideration of the examiners’ recommendations.

Submission after a successful recommendation of an award

Information on the procedure for submission of your final thesis after successful recommendation of an award can be found in the Submitting your thesis – a guide for research students.

 

Graduation

Congratulations on your successful candidature! We look forward to seeing you at Graduation.

Full information can be found on the Graduation webpage.

Alumni

Postgraduate research students are provided with Microsoft Office 365 alumni email addresses. Once you are awarded your username@southampton.ac.uk becomes username@southamptonalumni.ac.uk and any emails sent to your existing Southampton University email address will appear within your new account. Your alumni email account can be accessed via www.outlook.com/southamptonalumni.ac.uk.

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