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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 Academic Needs Analysis is the means by which your research, personal and developmental needs, including transferable skills, are identified and a plan constructed. It should take place within three months of starting your doctoral programme. 

Consideration will be given to:

  • the facilities and school required to enable you to undertake your research
    any subject-specific gaps in your knowledge base and how these might be filled
  • whether you need to learn a language and/or require English language support
    a self-assessment of your personal, professional and research skills (as set out in the Researcher Development Framework on the Vitae website).
     

Research students are required to maintain a record of personal achievement in their acquisition of knowledge and of subject specific, personal, professional and research skills. Research students should submit an updated Academic Needs Analysis at each Progression Review. The Review Panel should evaluate the training needs at each viva, and must provide feedback on the updated Academic Needs Analysis.

 

Research Data Management                                                                                                                        

All research students are required to maintain a Data Management Plan, as set out in the Research Data Management policy on the Library website.

A preliminary Data Management Plan should be assessed within three months of entry to your research degree programme, or within three months of the beginning of the research stage of a taught doctorate. 

The Academic Needs Analysis may include the training connected to research data management.

You should submit an updated Data Management Plan at each Progression Review (as well as your updated Academic Needs Analysis). The Review Panel should evaluate the Data Management Plan at each Progression Review, and will provide necessary feedback on your updates.

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

The First Progression Review will be assessed by an independent assessor and a member of your supervisory team. The deadline for submission of your Review Report will be listed on your PGR Tracker timeline or communicated to you by your Faculty Graduate School Office. The assessment at this milestone will be based upon your written Report and your performance at a viva.

Submission requirements

You are required to submit the following documents:

  • An updated Academic Needs Analysis
  • An up-to-date research Data Management Plan
  • The First Progression Review Report
     

As a minimum, your written Report should:

  • define the aims and objectives of your research project;
  • describe how the proposed research relates to other work in the area;
  • present the work that has been carried out to date;
  • present a plan for progression to Confirmation

Assessment criteria

During the First Progression Review, the Review Panel must satisfy itself that you:

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

Assessment outcomes

First attemptSecond attempt
  • Pass
  • Resubmit report
  • Pass
  • Termination of candidature
Note: if you are required to resubmit your Review Report you will be expected to attend a second viva. However, if it is deemed by the Review Panel that your resubmitted Report is of sufficient quality to permit progression, the repeat viva will be cancelled and you will be deemed to have passed.

Specific information for your Faculty, School or Discipline

The Faculty, School or Discipline in which you are registered has provided the following additional guidance on what is expected at the First Progression Review.

The Report
  • Your Report should be around 4,000 words.
  • You are strongly encouraged to draft your Report with support from your supervisory team.
  • Through discussion with your supervisory team, you should discuss the date by which you should aim to provide them with a draft of your Report. This should be well before the Report submission deadline.
  • Through discussion with your supervisory team, you should agree how they will provide feedback on your draft Report.

Typically, your First Progression Report should contain:

  • the aim and objectives of your research project;
  • a substantive initial literature review (describe how the proposed research relates to other work in the same area);
  • a description of the approaches taken so far;
  • preliminary results, analysis and discussion;
  • a clear plan of future work required for Confirmation.
     

The Review (viva)

  • The Review Panel: the supervisory team plus one or two independent assessors; for some groups (e.g. VLC and NGW), the panel consists of a group of academic staff members
  • You should submit the First Progression Review Report online, via PGR Tracker. You should also check whether the Review Panel would like to be provided with a paper copy of your Report.
  • Your Co-ordinating Supervisor or head of group will arrange the date, time and location of the Review meeting – but please be pro-active! Your First Progression Review should take place within one month of the submission of your Report.  If this has not happened, you must inform your Faculty Graduate School Office. 
  • At the start of the Review Panel meeting, you will typically be expected to give a short presentation  of your work.
  • During the Review Panel meeting, you will be asked technical questions on your work.  Use this as an opportunity to practice defending your work in readiness for your PhD viva.
  • It is better to have a tough internal viva, rather than an unexpectedly tough PhD viva!
  • You are expected to have a good grounding in your field, so read around your basics before a viva.
  • The Review Panel is allowed to ask you about topics that you have not covered! They are seeing how well you think on your feet.
  • Be prepared to defend yourself and your approach (saying “because my supervisor told me to” is not sufficient…)
  • If the Review Panel makes a good point, acknowledge it - they may be giving you some good ideas!
  • Most academics are annoyed by typographical errors, mis-labels, bad referencing, etc.

Confirmation

Confirmation Review – Month 18

The Second Progression Review (Confirmation) will be assessed by a Review Panel consisting of two independent assessors. The deadline date for submission of your Review Report will be listed on your PGR Tracker timeline or communicated to you by your Faculty Graduate School Office. Assessment of this milestone will be based upon your written Report and your performance at a viva.

Submission Requirements

You are required to submit the following documents:

  • an updated Academic Needs Analysis;
  • an up-to-date research Data Management Plan;
  • Your Second Progression Review (Confirmation) Report
     

In accordance with the Code of Practice, the Confirmation Panel must have reviewed a sufficient body of your written work in order to make a judgement on the criteria detailed below. This body of work should include:

  • an overview of the research problem and rationale for the project;
  • a substantial literature review;
  • well-developed plans for fieldwork and data analysis (if applicable).

Assessment Criteria

During the Second Progression Review, and in accordance with the Code of Practice, the Confirmation Panel must satisfy itself that you have demonstrated 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 itself 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.

Assessment Outcomes

First attemptSecond attempt
  • Pass
  • Resubmit report
  • Pass
  • Transfer to the Master of Philosophy programme
  • Termination of candidature

 

 


Note: if you are required to resubmit your Review Report you will be expected to attend a second viva. However, if it is deemed by the Review Panel that your resubmitted Report is of sufficient quality to permit Confirmation, the repeat viva will be cancelled and you will be deemed to have passed.

 

Specific Information for your Faculty, School or Discipline

The Faculty, School or Discipline in which you are registered has provided the following additional guidance on what is expected at the Second Progression Review (Confirmation).

The Report
  • Report length: around 10,000 words plus tables, figures etc.
  • You are strongly encouraged to draft your Report with support from your supervisory team.
  • Through discussion with your supervisory team, you should discuss the date by which you should aim to provide them with a Report outlines and/or Report drafts. This should be well before the Report submission deadline (starting around two months before the submission deadline).
  • Through discussion with your supervisory team, you should discuss how they will provide feedback on your Report drafts, e.g. chapter-by-chapter, or whole draft.
  • If you require an extension to a Progression Review, you will need to complete a Special Considerations form available from the Faculty Graduate School Office.

Typically your Report should include:

  • a detailed contents page with chapter headings planned to be used in the  PhD thesis;
  • an introduction (research problem + research objectives);
  • a substantial literature review;
  • the methodology;
  • the results;
  • a critical analysis and discussion of findings so far;
  • a clear and detailed plan of future work including a work plan, e.g. a GANTT chart;
  • evidence of any paper publications/submission.
The Review Meeting (viva)
  • The Review Panel: at least 2 independent assessors.
  • You should submit the Second Progression Review Report online, via PGR Tracker.  You should also check whether the Review Panel would like to be provided with a paper copy of your Report.
  • Your co-ordinating supervisor will arrange the date, time and location of the Review meeting – but please be pro-active! Your Second Progression Review should take place within one month of the submission of your Report. If this has not happened, you must inform your Faculty Graduate School Office. 
  • At the start of the Review Panel meeting, you will typically be asked to give a short presentation of your work.
  • During the Review Panel meeting, you will be asked technical questions on your work. Use this as an opportunity to practice defending your work in readiness for your PhD viva.
  • Your supervisor can be present at the Review Panel meeting, but they are not permitted to play an active role in the examination.

Third Progression Review

Third Progress Review – Month 32

The Third Progression Review will be assessed by a member of your supervisory team. If you are required to resubmit your Report, the second attempt at the Third Progression Review will be assessed by an independent assessor and a member of your supervisory team. The deadline for submission of your Report will be listed on your PGR Tracker timeline or communicated to you by your Faculty Graduate School Office. The assessment of this milestone will be based upon your written Report and your performance at a viva.

Submission requirements

You are required to submit the following documents:

  • an updated Academic Needs Analysis:
  • an up-to-date research Data Management Plan;
  • Your Third Progression Review Report
     

As a minimum, your written Report should include:

  • an outline of the thesis structure;
  • a summary of the work that has been carried out to date;
  • a summary of the work still to be done;
  • an outline of the plan for submission of the thesis

Assessment Criteria

During the Third Progression Review, the Review Panel must satisfy itself that you:

  • have made satisfactory progress to date;
  • have developed an adequately detailed plan of work and is on track to enable your research degree to be completed within the maximum allowable period of candidature.

Assessment Outcomes

First attemptSecond attempt
  • Pass
  • Resubmit report
  • Pass
  • Transfer to the Master of Philosophy programme
  • Termination of candidature
Note: if you are required to resubmit your Review Report you will be expected to attend a second viva. However, if it is deemed by the Review Panel that your resubmitted Report is of sufficient quality to permit progression, the repeat viva will be cancelled and you will be deemed to have passed.

Specific information for your Faculty, School or Discipline

The Faculty, School or Discipline in which you are registered on which you are registered has provided the following additional guidance on what is expected at the Third Progression Review.

The Third Progression Review has a more informal format.

The Report
  • You should discuss the Report length and content in advance with your supervisory team, 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.
     

Typically your report should include:

  • 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.
The Review

You will be expected to evidence that your research project has made clear progress and demonstrate that a credible plan for the submission of a defendable thesis exists. The Third Progression Review does not take the form of a viva, and is usually a discussion between the student and their supervisor which results in an agreement of a finite timeline to final submission. You and your supervisory team must discuss if/when you will enter nominal registration, and this date should also be agreed at the Third Progression Review.

  • The Review Panel: your supervisor.
  • You should submit the Third Progression Review Report online, via PGR Tracker.  You should also check whether the Review Panel would like to be provided with a paper copy of your Report.
  • Your co-ordinating supervisor will arrange the date, time and location of the Review meeting – but please be pro-active! Your Second Progression Review should take place within one month of the submission of your Report.  If this has not happened, you must inform your Faculty Graduate School Office. 

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 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.

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 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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