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Doctoral College

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Progression Milestones

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

This page will guide you through each Milestone.

This is a guide and does not link to PGR Tracker.

Academic Needs Analysis

The initial induction includes an interview between the student and the Supervisor(s). At this point, the student’s training needs will be identified – this process is carried out online via the PGR Tracker system. A record of the courses will be noted via PGR Tracker and processed in your student file within the Graduate School Office after each stage of your progression points.

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 calendar 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. 

Please note that this page and does not link to PGR Tracker, this is for information only.

 

Activity Reports

Activity Reports are required to be submitted via PGR Tracker according to the milestones outlined in Your Doctorate. Feedback will be given to you, electronically, by your supervisor and examiner.

Part-time Candidates

Additional Requirements for Part-time Candidates

If you are registered as a part-time PhD student, you will be required to attend an Interim Progression Review during any interval longer than 12 months between the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd review, and if you do not submit your thesis within 12 months of the Third Progression Review. You will be assessed by a panel made up of your supervisory team. In certain circumstances it may be appropriate for an independent panel member to also be present.

For an Interim Progression Review, you should submit a written report, not exceeding 3,000 words in length, which:

  1. presents the work that has been carried out to date;
  2. presents a plan for the next stage of the PhD;
  3. outlines a plan for submission of the thesis (as applicable).

The report should be doubled-spaced 12-point font. References should be in the style specified for your School at https:/library.soton.ac.uk/sash/referencing. They do not need to be bound but printed copies are required for the panel members. It is expected that you will have shared your report with your supervisory team prior to the review meeting and that you will have acted upon any feedback you have received.

Interim progression reviews cannot lead directly to termination, but as with the reviews described on these pages, you will be expected to act on feedback provided.

First Progression Review

The report should be doubled-spaced 12-point font. References should be in the style specified for your School at https:/library.soton.ac.uk/sash/referencing. It does not need to be bound but printed copies are required for the panel members. It is expected that you will have shared your report with your supervisory team prior to the review meeting and that you will have acted upon any feedback you have received.

Progression Review Report

This report should contain no more than 15 sides of text (~5000 words). The report may contain up to 15 diagrams (not part of the page count).

The report should contain:

  1. a substantive and critical literature review – i.e. not simply a history of published papers, but a discussion of disputed areas, and the gaps that need to be filled – this will typically be the longest part of the report;
  2. a definition of the main research problem – this will typically be 1-2 pages long;
  3. a discussion of the approach taken so far that may include a description and interpretation of preliminary results (if appropriate – some areas of research take longer than other to generate results);
  4. a clear plan for the period leading up to the second progression review (this will typically be in the form of a ½ page Gantt chart) and an initial overall plan for the research to be undertaken (including the methods that will be used) during the PhD period (this will typically be 2-3 pages long)

Progression Review

The panel will expect that you have:

  1. made an appropriate and critical survey of the literature;
  2. defined the preliminary objectives and scope of the research;
  3. displayed an appropriate knowledge and understanding of the research methods;
  4. developed a viable research plan to be completed within the degree period.

Possible outcomes are:

  1. you have passed;
  2. you have failed and your entire report needs to reassessed.

In the case of 2., you will be required to submit a revised report according to the regulations. Failure to pass the second review will result in termination. For both outcomes, you will be expected to act on feedback provided.

Second Review (Confirmation)

The report should be doubled-spaced 12-point font. References should be in the style specified for your School at https:/library.soton.ac.uk/sash/referencing. It does not need to be bound but printed copies are required for the panel members. It is expected that you will have shared your report with your supervisory team prior to the review meeting and that you will have acted upon any feedback you have received.

You will present a ~30 minute presentation that is open to interested researchers and is advertised within your School. The content of the presentation should be centred round the submitted report. You should be prepared to answer questions from the audience. The presentation should be before the formal review meeting and can be on a different day; it should be attended by both assessors. The presentation should also have been discussed and rehearsed with the supervisory team prior to the confirmation meeting.

Option 1 - Paper-based approach

The report should contain no more than 30 pages of text (~10,000 words). Figures and tables are not included in the page count. A full bibliography should be included (not included in the page count). Relevant analytical data may be included as appendices (not included in the page count).

The report will contain:

  1. title of report, name of candidate, date of submission and supervisor names;
  2. abstract of less than 200 words;
  3. the report should be in the form of a research paper – this paper may have been published, submitted for publication, or should be in an advanced stage of preparation (if Option 2 was taken for the 1st Progression Review, this will be a different paper from that submitted for the first review);
  4. it follows from 3) that you are not expected to include in the report every activity you have undertaken in your project prior to the confirmation meeting.

You must also include, as an important element, a research plan for the remainder of your thesis in the form of a Gantt chart (not included in page count).

Option 2 – Traditional thesis approach

A report of 30-120 pages (c. 10,000-40,000 words), that includes:

  1. title of report, name of candidate, date of submission and supervisor names
  2. abstract of less than 200 words
  3. an overview of the research problem and rationale for the project;
  4. a more substantial literature review than was submitted for the 1st Progression Review;
  5. some preliminary results and conclusions.

You must also include a research plan for the remainder of your thesis in the form of a Gantt chart (not included in page count).

Second Review (confirmation)

The panel will expect that you have:

  1. a good knowledge of the general research field and specific problems that are the subject of the project, and have made clear progress in the project;
  2. displayed a good understanding of the methods and techniques used in your research and their limitations (e.g. analytical errors, assumptions, etc.);
  3. the ability to write in clear scientific English;
  4. developed a well thought-out plan for the remainder of the project.

Possible outcomes are that:

  1. you have passed;
  2. your have failed and your report needs to reassessed.

In the case of 2., you will be required to submit a revised report according to the regulations. Failure to pass the second review will result in termination or transfer to an MPhil programme. For both outcomes, you will be expected to act on feedback provided.

 

Third Progression Review

A report of no more than 4,000 words, containing:

  1. an outline of the thesis structure in the form of chapter headings and sub-headings;
  2. sections that are not yet completed should be clearly marked with an estimated completion date;
  3. a half page abstract of the contents of each chapter (some of which may be in the form of research papers);
  4. a 1-2 page summary of any work that remains to be done, together with a detailed timetable of when these activities will be completed;
  5. a risks analysis and mitigation strategy for the tasks to be completed (e.g. what, if any, tasks might not be undertaken and still allow for a defendable thesis);
  6. a projected thesis submission date that shall be normally within the funding period for your PhD programme (with allowances for time out due to placements, illness, etc.);
  7. a list of any published and/or submitted publications.

The report should be doubled-spaced 12-point font. References should be in the style specified for your School at https:/library.soton.ac.uk/sash/referencing. It does not need to be bound but printed copies are required for the panel members. It is expected that you will have shared your report with your supervisory team prior to the review meeting and that you will have acted upon any feedback you have received. It is expected also that you will have agreed on the timetable for completion of the PhD.

Third Review

The panel will expect that you have:

  1. made clear progress in the project;
  2. developed a clear, detailed and credible plan for submitting a defendable thesis, ideally within your funding period but otherwise within the allowable registration period.

Possible outcomes are that:

  1. you have passed;
  2. you have failed and your report needs to reassessed.

In the case of 2., you will be required to submit a revised report according to the regulations. Failure to pass the second review will result in termination or transfer to an MPhil programme. For both outcomes, you will be expected to act on feedback provided.

External Requirements

External requirements

If your studies are funded partly or fully by an external organisation, there may be a requirement for you or your supervisor to complete additional reports for your 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.

Supervisors must not return these completed forms to the sponsor directly. They must communicate such reports to the sponsor via the Faculty Graduate School Office so that they can be scrutinised by the Doctoral Programme Director/Faculty Director of the Graduate School and recorded on file.

If you are funded in whole or in part by a UKRI research council, you will need to comply with the UKRI grant terms and conditions. These include an expectation that you should submit your thesis within the funding period. You should discuss this with your supervisor throughout your study to ensure that you are in a position to meet this expectation.

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 84-85 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 8-10 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 86-89.

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 Guidance for Completion of Research Degree available on the Quality Handbook. You are advised to read these well in advance. It covers 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.

Please note that this page and does not link to PGR Tracker, this is for information only.

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 90–104 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 thesis after successful recommendation of an award can be found in the University’s Guidance for Completion of Research Degree.

Please note that this page and does not link to PGR Tracker, this is for information only.

 

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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