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The University of Southampton
Quality Handbook

Covid-19 Temporary Measures (updated 1 August 2023)

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

The impact of the pandemic on students’ research projects is likely to  continue for some time and the Policy will remain in effect for theses submitted (or resubmitted) on or after 8 February 2021 to 31 July 2024.  This measure will be reviewed by PGR QME Subcommittee in June 2024.

Special consideration and suspension of candidature for extenuating circumstances

The temporary suspension of the requirement for supporting information to be submitted with a request for special considerations ceased on 31 July 2021 and Section A paragraph 2.10 of the Regulations Governing Special Considerations and Suspension of Candidature for Postgraduate Research Students) was reintroduced. 

The temporary measure, whereby students are permitted to submit their Covid-19 Impact Log as a piece of supporting information in support of a request for special consideration due to extenuating circumstances ceased on 31 July 2022 and, from 1 August 2022, is embedded into the Regulations (Section A paragraph 2.10).  As detailed in Section B paragraph 3.10, the Special Considerations Board should use its discretion to determine whether a request that makes direct relation to the Covid-19 pandemic as the extenuating circumstances is reasonable (e.g.):

(i)     symptoms of Covid-19;

(ii)    additional, unexpected, 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 have been unable to access University IT facilities whilst working away from campus due to circumstances directly related to Covid-19 for which no mitigation has been possible;

(v)     an inability to access the resources needed to progress their research (e.g. fieldwork, laboratory access, conducting interviews, supervisory availability) and where it has been impossible to implement mitigation.  Reasons why the implementation of mitigation has been impossible must be submitted with the application.

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), with the ongoing caveat that a third academic member should be called upon to adjudicate in the event of disagreement regarding the proposed recommendation, ceased on 31 July 2022.  From 1 August 2022, and embedded into Section A paragraph 2.20 of the Regulations, all requests for special consideration must be reviewed by no fewer than two academic members of the board.  Additional academic members may be called upon to give further opinion in the event of disagreement regarding the proposed recommendation.  A representation from the Doctoral College (Faculty) Team must always be in attendance.

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 2024 and will be reviewed by PGR QME Subcommittee in June 2024.  ​​​​​​

Submission of thesis for examination

The temporary measure, whereby students submit an electronic copy of their thesis only (e-thesis) ceased on 31 July 2022.  With effect from 1 August 2022, one copy of the e-thesis is required for examination with the pre-Covid19 requirement for a soft-bound copy having been discontinued.

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 meant that it was possible to resume face-to-face viva voce examinations should all parties agree.  The temporary measure, whereby the medium of viva voce by videoconference was the default, ceased on 31 July 2022.

Post viva-voce conditions

The Covid-19 amendments to Guidance for Examiners of Postgraduate Research Awards ceased on 31 July 2022. From 1 August 2022 the Guidance advises that, should any additional instruction have been provided direct to the student by the examiners (e.g. annotated copies of the thesis; lists of required corrections) copies must be appended to the Joint Examiners’ Report and Recommendation Form to aid the Faculty Director of the Graduate School’s consideration of the examiners’ recommendation.

Deposit of final thesis

On 31 July 2022, the temporary measure ceased.  With effect from 1 August 2022, students are required to submit an electronic copy only (e-thesis) of their final thesis for cataloguing and storage in the Library. The pre-Covid19 requirement for a bound copy of the final thesis has been discontinued.   ​​​​​​​


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