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The University of Southampton
Doctoral College

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Progression Milestones

Progression Milestones are key stages of your candidature. They comprise of First Progression Review, Progression Review (Confirmation), and Third Progression Review.

This page will guide you through each Milestone.

Guidelines

These guidelines should cover the expectations of the vast majority of students undertaking full-time PhD studies. There are variations in timing for students undertaking part-time PhD studies and in some other circumstances. The timings of the reports do not include periods of suspension for placements and/or illness, maternity leave, etc.

These guidelines should be read in conjunction with the Regulations for Research Degrees and Code of Practice for Research Candidature and Supervision, which describe the definitive University policies.

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

Academic Needs Analysis

Academic Needs Analysis (ANA)

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.

Activity Reports

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.

All postgraduate students are required to upload, through the PGR Tracker, their activity reports. These reports must be an accurate reflection of the work accomplished during the quarter. Feedback will be given to you, electronically, by your supervisor and advisor as appropriate.

Guidance as to the format of the progress report should be initially sought from the supervisory team.

  • The Progress/activity reports should be between one and six pages, to include:
  • Objectives for the quarter
  • Progress towards the objectives
  • Reasons why the objective may have changed or not been met
  • Objectives for the next quarter
  • Other information to be included as an appendix (no page limit), e.g. additional details as required by certain groups

Students are advised to liaise with their main supervisor in order to gather appropriate guidance with regard to length and style of the reports.

 

First Progression Review

First Progression Review – Month 9

This report should be double spaced, 12 point font, and should contain no more than 15 sides of text (~5000 words), though this should be discussed explicitly with your supervisor as different projects will require a variety of report lengths. It does not need to be bound but printed copies are required for the panel members. The report may contain diagrams (not part of the page count).

Include a list of references (not part of the page count) in University of Southampton format. 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.

The report should contain:

  • 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
  • a definition of the main research problem – this will typically be 1-2 pages long
  • 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)
  • 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)

The panel will expect that you have:

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

Possible outcomes are:

  1. you have passed with no amendments to the report required
  2. you have passed the progression but you are requested to rewrite some sections
  3. your entire report needs to reassessed

In the case of 3), you will be required to submit a revised report according to the regulations. Failure to pass the second review will result in termination.

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

 

Confirmation

Confirmation Review – Month 18

Your report will be subject to Viva examination, you should be prepared to answer questions from the examining panel.

The report should be double spaced, 12 pt font, and should contain no more than 30 pages of text (~10,000 words), though this should be discussed explicitly with your supervisor as different projects will require a variety of report lengths. It does not need to be bound but printed copies are required for the panel members. The report will include figures and tables (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). Both the presentation and report should have been discussed and rehearsed with the supervisory team prior to the confirmation meeting.

The report will contain:

  • title of report, name of candidate, date of submission and supervisor names
  • abstract of less than 200 words
  • 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
  • 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
  • a research plan in the form of a Gantt chart (not included in page count)

The panel will expect that you have:

  • 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
  • displayed a good understanding of the methods and techniques used in your research and their limitations (e.g. analytical errors, assumptions, etc.)
  • the ability to write in clear scientific English
  • developed a well thought-out plan for the remainder of the project.

Possible outcomes are that:

  1. you have passed with no amendments to the report required
  2. you have passed the confirmation, but you are requested to rewrite some sections
  3. your report needs to reassessed

In the case of 3), 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. 

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

Third Progression Review

Third Progress Review – Month 32

This is a compulsory review with a more informal format. You should discuss the report length and content in advance with your supervisor, as there may be variations to the required information and format. There is no required minimum word limit, but a maximum guideline of 4,000 words is advised.  

The report will contain:

  • An outline of thesis structure.
  • A summary of any research work not yet completed and an estimated completion date for each section of remaining work.
  • A projected thesis submission date.
  • A list of publications and/or publications submitted.

You will be expected to evidence that your research project has made clear progress and a credible plan for the submission of a defendable thesis exists. This review does not take the form of a Viva examination, and is usually a discussion between student and supervisory team which results in an agreement of a finite timeline to final submission. All students must discuss when they will enter nominal registration with their supervisor, and this date must also be agreed at the Third Progress Review.

Possible outcomes are that:

  1. you have passed with no amendments to the report required
  2. you have passed the review but you are requested rewrite some sections
  3. your report needs to reassessed

In the case of 3), 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. 

 

Exceptional Progress Reviews

Exceptional Progress Reviews

In line with the Procedures for Circumstances that may lead to Withdrawal or Termination, Exceptional Progression Reviews may be scheduled on the direction of the Faculty Director of the Graduate School if significant academic concerns about a research student have been raised, either independently or as a result of an Interim Progression Review. Exceptional Progression Reviews usually follow the procedures for confirmation and should be carried out by two independent assessors. Exceptional Progression Reviews will lead to one of two recommendations: to continue in candidature; or to terminate 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 Intention to Submit form which can be found on PGR Tracker. 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, paragraph 85.

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.

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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