Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
We're launching a new website soon and would love your feedback. See the new design
Quality Handbook

Covid-19 - Temporary Measures

Research degree theses and the impact of Covid-19 restrictions – policy

The impact of the pandemic on students’ research projects would likely continue for some time and that the policy (updated July 2021) would be remain in effect for theses submitted (or resubmitted) on or after 8th February 2021 to 31st July 2022.  This measure will be reviewed by PGR QME Subcommittee in June 2022.

Special consideration and suspension of candidature for extenuating circumstances

The temporary suspension of the requirement for documentary information/evidence to be submitted in support of a request will cease on 31 July 2021 and Section A paragraph 4.1.1 of the Regulations Governing Special Considerations and Suspension of Candidature for Postgraduate Research Students) will be reintroduced.  However, students continue to be permitted to submit their Covid-19 Impact Log as a piece of supporting information in support of their request.  The Special Considerations Board would continue to use its discretion to determine whether any requests that make direct relation to the Covid-19 pandemic as the extenuating circumstances were reasonable (e.g.):

(i)            symptoms of Covid-19;
(ii)           additional caring responsibilities for children and/or other dependents;
(iii)          students who fall under the ‘key worker’ category outlined by the UK government and who are required to work additional hours;
(iv)         computer/IT issues where students find themselves reliant on inadequate internet connections or encounter issues related to broken computing equipment which they are unable to resolve;
(v)          an inability to access the resources needed to progress their research (e.g. fieldwork, lab access, conducting interviews, supervisory availability).

This measure was reviewed by PGR QME Subcommittee in January 2022 and will remain in place until 31st July 2022. 

Special consideration for extenuating circumstances – temporary adjustment to the number of Board members required for the review of student requests

The temporary measure whereby a reduced number of academic members of the Special Considerations Board were required for the review of student requests (from three to two) will continue, with the ongoing caveat that a third academic member should be called upon to adjudicate in the event of disagreement regarding the proposed recommendation.  A representative from the Faculty Graduate School Office must continue to be in attendance during all reviews. This measure was reviewed by the Subcommittee in January 2022 and will remain in force until 31st July 2022.

Suspension (for students in FMED and Health Sciences (FELS)) who are drafted back into NHS work during the pandemic

The streamlined process for suspension requests from students who were drafted back into NHS work would continue to operate should this be considered necessary by the UK government.

Progression reviews

Students are at liberty to submit their Covid-19 impact log along with their review report.  Whilst the impact log may be discussed at the review meeting, the assessment panel’s judgement of the student’s progress and its pass/fail recommendation must be based solely on the criteria for progression.  The assessment panel may also advise a student to make a separate request for special consideration if it thinks this appropriate.  This temporary measure will remain in force to 31 July 2022 and will be reviewed by PGR QME Subcommittee in June 2022.  ​​​​​​​

Submission of thesis for examination

The temporary measure, whereby students submit an electronic copy of their thesis only was reviewed by the Subcommittee in January 2022. and was extended for submissions (or resubmissions) made up to and including 31st July 2022. The Subcommittee would again review this measure in July 2022. Faculty Graduate School Offices will continue to advise examiners that, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the University’s current policy is that they are provided with an electronic copy of the thesis only.  Should an examiner consider that they were unable to examine the thesis in this format, the University will produce a soft-bound copy through its own Print Service (although the time required to produce a soft-bound copy might delay arrangement of the viva voce).  Examiners will also continue to be advised that, for data protection reasons, under no circumstances should they use a third party service to print the thesis, though printing a copy themselves was acceptable.

Viva voce – examination of thesis

The UK government’s announcement (in January 2022) of the removal of its guidance that people should work from home means that it is possible to resume face-to-face viva voce examinations should all parties agree. However, to ensure that no undue pressure is inadvertently placed upon students and examiners to conduct the examination face-to-face, the medium of viva voce by videoconference will continue to be the default until 31st July 2022. This measure will be further reviewed by the Subcommittee in June 2022.  

Post viva-voce conditions

The temporary measures outlined above restrict the ability of the examiners to annotate manually a soft-bound copy of the thesis for return to the student.  The Guidance for Examiners of Postgraduate Research Award (Covid-19 amendments) (updated July 2021) reinforces the University’s expectation that examiners must submit a copy of all instructions regarding minor or modest amendments or resubmission requirements (including any documentation that the examiners had sent directly to the student) with the Joint Examiners’ Report and Recommendation Form so that the Faculty Director of the Graduate School can be reassured that the instructions provided to the student which will be relied upon by the examiners in their assessment have been fully communicated to the student.  Following review in January 2022, the Subcommittee agreed that this measure should remain in force until 31st July 2022.

Deposit of final thesis

Following review by the Subcommittee in January 2022, it was agreed that the temporary measure, whereby students are not required to submit a bound copy of their final thesis to the Faculty Graduate School Office for deposit in the Library will continue for submissions made up to and including 31st July 2022.

Privacy Settings