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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.


These guidelines should cover the expectations of the vast majority of students undertaking full-time PhD studies within the Schools of Maths, Education and ESPS. 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.

The Progression Reviews are important for assessing whether the quality and quantity of the work produced is appropriate at the PhD level and, therefore, whether the candidate is sufficiently progressing towards the PhD candidature.

The Progression Reviews should also be considered as formative in that they are intended to support the research students in developing their research and, therefore, they are an important opportunity to gain formal feedback on the work produced to date from independent assessors within the School, but outside of the supervisory team.

The progression review process is formally prompted and documented by PGR tracker.

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

Activity Reports

Activity Reports

Progress 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.

Quarterly Activity Report

You are responsible for keeping a record of your supervision meetings and the decisions made therein. It can be helpful to send brief notes of these to your supervisor as a shared record and to allow any misunderstandings to be clarified. Your formal responsibility though is to record on PGR Tracker a record of your activity, including the number and focus of supervisions, on a quarterly basis (four times per year). This will also help you in preparing for your formal progression reviews.

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).

A statement concerning whether ethics approval is required (and/or has been obtained) must also be included in the ANA. Ethical approval can be applied for through the online system ERGO.

The ANA is an ongoing process and you should review your needs as and when necessary as well as at the formal progression milestones. It is likely that your needs will change as you progress through your studies and research and this must be documented formally.

First Progression Review

First Progression Review


The Progression Review Panel must satisfy themselves that the student:

  • 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 allowable registration period;
  • has defined the preliminary objectives and scope of the research 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 adequate knowledge and understanding of applicable research methods, and provided a justification of their appropriateness in the research
  • has begun discussing the ethical implications of their research with their supervisory team and can articulate how these are incorporated into their research plans
  • has initiated the required ethical approval procedures, and addressed any conditions of ethical approval as appropriate at this stage of research

Submission Requirement


A written report that:

  • defines the aims and objectives of the research project;
  • describes how the proposed research relates to other work in the area;
  • presents the work that has been carried out to date;
  • justifies the chosen research methodology;
  • presents a plan for progression to confirmation.

Or, for PhDs based on 3 paper thesis:

  • One report that summarises the training carried out including discussion of progress;
  • A draft of a first research paper (that clearly states the aims and objectives of the study, places the idea/contribution in the literature, provides a comprehensive literature review, includes a clear discussion of the methodology (ideally, the draft should also discuss the potential implementation of an empirical application/lab experiment if suitable for the specific research project) and discussion of data availability/construction.




Second Review (Confirmation)


Submission Requirement

The Confirmation Panel must satisfy themselves that the student has 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 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.


An interim thesis of 25,000-35,000 words that includes:

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

Or, for PhDs based on 3 paper thesis:

  • A final version of the first research paper (which after polishing/revisions can be submitted to a reputable international journal in the discipline i.e. containing complete analysis and discussion of data/experiments (if empirically based) or discussion of the theory presented (if theory based);
  • An outline/draft of a second research paper (as above)

As part of the programme specific Mandatory Training, students entering the PhD Economics programme should take 3 modules from the list of modules offered as part of our MSc programmes in Economics, MSc Finance and Econometrics, or from other rigorous postgraduate programmes of the University. These courses need to be agreed with the supervisory panel. More specific information on the list of modules can be found at:

The above courses are typically taken during the first year of registration. The standard Pass Mark at Masters level is 50%, and PhD students should therefore aim for 60% in each of these modules. Whilst this is not a formal progression requirement that could lead to termination of candidature, students who do not reach 60% and wish to improve their score will have an opportunity to do so.

Students’ learning from these modules will inform the Confirmation of Doctoral Candidature milestone.


Third Progression Review

Third Progression Review


Submission Requirement

  • The Progression Review Panel must satisfy themselves that the student:
  • has made satisfactory progress to date;
  • has developed an adequately detailed plan of work and is on track to enable the research degree to be completed within the allowable registration period;


A written report that:

  • outlines the thesis structure;
  • summarises work that has been carried out to date including the new material added to the interim thesis since the confirmation;
  • summarises work still to be done;
  • outlines a plan for submission of the thesis.

Or, for PhDs based on 3 paper thesis:

  • An advanced version of a second research paper. The version should also contain preliminary results of the study and be in a state such that after three more months of work it can be considered as a final research paper;
  • A draft of a third research paper. 

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.



Interim Progression Reviews

Interim Progression Reviews


Submission Requirement

The Progression Review Panel must satisfy themselves that the student:

  • has made satisfactory progress to date;
  • has developed an adequately detailed plan of work for next progression review;
  • is on track to enable the research degree to be completed within the allowable registration period.

A written report which:

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


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, 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. 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 also submit an electronic copy of your PhD thesis through Turnitin. Therefore, can you upload your electronic copy at the same time as handing in your soft bound copies (Graduate School Office, Room 2111/Building 58).

This should be done via Blackboard, SOCSCIPHD:SocSci PhD Thesis submission.

Full instructions can be found from a list on the left hand side of the screen together with the link Assignment (Thesis) where you actually submit.

Courteous Language

You might find the following guidance on writing to be useful in terms of presenting a case that is sensitive and courteous in the language used. The Faculty encourages all students to think carefully about the impact of the words they use. The University has a Dignity at Work and Study Code has guidance to aid your understanding of what is appropriate and inappropriate in your interactions with people generally within the University and in activities outside of it. The use of gender-neutral language means avoiding use of exclusively male terms which may convey the impression that the world in general is inhabited primarily by men; women are effectively excluded. When reference to both sexes is intended a large number of nouns use the suffix ‘man’ thereby excluding women from the picture we present of the world. These should be replaced by non-sex-referent alternatives.  Some examples are given below:



the man in the street   people in general
lay man lay person
man-made synthetic, artificial
chairman Chair, chair person
man power workforce, staff labour power
to a man everyone, unanimously
man hours work hours
one man show one person show
policeman, fireman police officer, fire fighter
forefathers       ancestors
dear sir dear sir/madam, dear colleague
housewife home maker, home worker

The generic ‘he’ should be avoided; it is better to use he/she or s/he, or change the sentence to use the plural ‘they’.

Many words and phrases in current use patronise and offend people with disabilities and reinforce a negative stereotype; some care and thought will ensure a more positive and accurate use of language.  Emotive descriptions should be avoided.  For example

Avoid Use
victim of/crippled by/suffering from a person who has/with
wheelchair bound uses a wheelchair
handicapped disabled
mental handicap learning difficulty/ intellectual disability

People should not be labelled with the condition they have: the description ‘a person with arthritis’ is to be preferred to ‘an arthritic’.  It is also sensitive to avoid deficit-oriented metaphors of disability e.g. ‘blind to reason’ ‘deaf to arguments’.

It is difficult to be definitive about language for different ethnic groups but it is essential that appropriate language is used to avoid offence, discouragement or needless conflict.  Some broad general principles are:

  1. Using pejorative and demeaning language is unacceptable. 
  2. People should not be stereotyped according to ready-made assumptions. 
  3. Ethnocentric ideas should be avoided. 
  4. Terms used to describe people of different races or ethnic groups should, as far as possible, be the terms that they prefer.

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.



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

Full information can be found on the Graduation webpage.


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