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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.

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 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; and a member of the supervisory team. 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 a written report. This should be done 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 10.

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

The format and content of the written report are outlined below:

Conventional thesis route

 A draft of 8,000-10,000 words, excluding references, tables and appendices, to provide

  • an introduction to research topic, its context and relevance, including specific theoretical gaps in the relevant scholarly debate;
  • a  relevant literature review to justify research aims and objectives/questions;
  • a justification of the methodology including types of data, methods of research and data analysis;
  • a detailed plan for the future work.
  • a description of any particular problems encountered (e.g. access to resources or facilities or other additional disability-related or language support requirements)
  • a description of any additional support or facilities already being provided or required

Three papers’ thesis route

  • A largely completed draft of Paper 1 of 8,000-10,000 words excluding references, tables and appendices
  • a detailed plan for the future work
  • a description of any particular problems encountered (e.g. access to resources or facilities or other additional disability-related or language support requirements)
  • a description of any additional support or facilities already being provided or required

The review will assess the written report and academic needs of the candidate.

If the online research ethics module has not yet been completed by the student it should be included in the student’s training plan, with the view of completing it before the 2nd Progression (Confirmation) Review.

The recommendation from the First Progression Review will be one or other 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 at the First 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 revised written submission is sufficient to progress, the re-viva will be waived.

The assessment on the second attempt will lead to one or other of the following recommendations:

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

Confirmation

Second Review (Confirmation)

The Confirmation review involves a viva, based on the research student's written submission (mini-thesis) for Confirmation. This is conducted by the review panel, which consists of two members of staff, both of whom have had no direct involvement in the student’s research and can take the role of independent 'assessors'. 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. In exceptional circumstances, the Director of the Faculty Graduate School may approve an independent assessor who has been appointed as a 'Visitor' to the University.

A member of the supervisory team will normally be invited to attend as an observer; 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.

A mini-thesis should be submitted 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 21.

Failure to submit a mini-thesis by the specified deadline will result in a failure of the respective progression review attempt.

A guide to the expected content and presentation format of the mini-thesis is provided below:

Conventional thesis route

Introduction

A brief explanation of the nature and significance of the dissertation topic, and the problems or issues implicit in the dissertation title. Some contextual statistics and/or general information on the research context may be useful. This section should explicitly identify the research aims and objectives of your dissertation, and include an overview of how the rest of the document is structured, linking the remaining sections to follow with research objectives where appropriate.

Literature review

This section should illustrate that the candidate has reviewed the relevant literature to ensure that the research undertaken is of sufficient originality and novelty (i.e. it is not repeating what has been done before). It should show that “theoretical gaps” in research have been identified so that the research undertaken will be advancing the state-of-the-art in the field.

The literature review should inform the reader of the relevant research already published in the particular field of research being undertaken. The review should demonstrate the ability to interpret, conceptualise and critically evaluate the literature, as opposed to providing an annotated bibliography on the subject. To aid the reader in understanding and justifying your own study, main streams of ideas and concepts other authors have developed should be reported. The review must be focused, in-depth, critical and not merely descriptive.

Important points to consider when writing the literature review:

  • Is the document creation an effective (and meaningful) pathway to information, or simply a list of references?
  • Is the topic area fairly specific, and is the coverage focused and deep (rather than wide, general and shallow)?
  • Is the review critical?
  • Does the review provide a worthwhile resource that would be of interest and value to other investigators?
  • Is the review well-structured?
     

The literature review should conclude with a concise and critical discussion section on what has been reviewed, listing the “theoretical gaps” identified by the candidate and how the objectives of this particular research and the thesis itself, when completed, will help to address those gaps.

Methodology

A description of the overall methodology that has been adopted for the study and the justification, addressing questions such as why, what, when, how, who is involved, etc. Discussions should be provided around how the chosen method(s) match with the research aims and objectives.

This chapter should also include a section about data.  It is expected that, by the time of the confirmation, that the candidate will have collected some (but not all) data in the way of providing a prototype analysis (pilot study) using the chosen methodology.  This section should contain the results of such an analysis.  It is recommended that the candidate does not try and finalise all data collection and analysis by the time of confirmation, as any problems identified at the upgrade stage will make it difficult for the candidate to rectify within the remaining time of candidature.

Timetable and Future Work

This chapter should provide a timetable or a Gantt chart showing the research activities to be undertaken until the end of the period of study and how the completion of these activities will meet all the research objectives outlined in the Introduction chapter.  The candidates should make sure that the proposed timetable is realistic. Time should also be allowed for the write-up and submission of the PhD thesis.

Academic needs overview

any particular problems encountered (e.g. access to resources or facilities or other additional disability-related or language support requirements); any additional support or facilities already being provided or required.

Three papers’ thesis route

  • An introductory chapter, similar to the conventional model. 
  • Completed version of Paper 1
  • Largely completed (approx.70%) draft of Paper 2
  • Outline of Paper 3

Candidates are asked to make sure that the papers 1 and 2 are of sufficient depth to warrant a confirmation of the PhD status (and consequently, a PhD). Each of the papers should be free standing (in the sense that each can be read and understood independently) but should be on related themes.

If any of papers are published or accepted for publication, this will be taken by the panel or the examiners to be prima facie evidence of publish ability.

  • Timetable and Future Work
    • This should provide a timetable or a Gantt chart showing the research activities to be undertaken until the end of the period of study and how the completion of these activities will meet all the research objectives outlined in the Introduction chapter. The candidates should make sure that the proposed timetable is realistic. Time should also be allowed for the write-up and submission of the PhD thesis.
  • Academic needs overview
    • Any particular problems encountered (e.g. access to resources or facilities or other additional disability-related or language support requirements); any additional support or facilities already being provided or required.

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:

  • 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;
  • 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 the academic needs analysis.

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

  • the 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 by 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 will be permitted to interview the research student before submitting a final report and recommendation to the Director of the Faculty Graduate School who will consider the independent reports of the original assessors and the report of the additional assessor before reaching a final decision.

Third Progression Review

Third Progression Review

The 3rd 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 a meeting, and make a recommendation within the specified time-frame, 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.

A sample guide to the requirements for inclusion within the first full draft thesis is provided below: 

Conventional thesis

  • An outline of the thesis’ contents
  • An introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Methodology and design
  • Data analysis (where appropriate)
  • Discussion, debate and critical evaluation/argument
  • The plan for submission
  • Academic needs overview

Three papers’ thesis route

  • an outline of the thesis’ content
  • a final draft of paper 1
  • a final  draft of paper 2
  • first draft of paper 3
  • a plan for submission
  • academic needs overview

The review will lead to one or the other 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 provided with 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, with an independent chair appointed by the Director of the Faculty Graduate School; however, if the assessors deem that the Report itself is sufficient to progress, the re-viva will be waived.

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 

Further information about Progression Reviews are detailed in paragraphs 64-69 of the Code of Practice for Research Candidature and Supervision.

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 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. 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 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 http://blackboard.soton.ac.uk/, 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:

Gender-specific 

Gender-neutral

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.

 

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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