The research degree follows a milestone structure which allows for a student's progression to be closely monitored through the first two years to help ensure that the final thesis is of the highest standard.

Please note: students who do not complete milestones on time risk being unable to continue with their registration.

Further details on the assessment procedure can be found in the SPH Staff & Student Handbook.

Assessments

PhD/MRes Registration

The first milestone is PhD/MRes registration, where students are required to produce a research proposal and have it reviewed by two independent assessors who are experts in the chosen field of research.

The research proposal should be four sides in length, excluding references, figures, tables etc. and follow the outline of a grant application.

The proposal should demonstrate a good understanding of the research to be undertaken and the assessors will be looking to assess whether the research proposal is valid, beneficial and plausible within the timeframe of a research degree and with the resources available.

Students do not need to meet with the assessors at this stage; assessors will review the written work only.

To assist the assessment of the research proposal, students also need to prepare:

Documents should be submitted to the PhD Administrator who will send them onto the assessors.

The deadline for submission can be found on a student’s individual Milestone Sheet.

Early Stage Assessment (ESA)

The second milestone is the Early Stage Assessment, where students are required to produce a report, that includes an extended literature review, and meet with two independent assessors for an oral viva.

The report should be no longer that 10,000 words, excluding references, figures, tables etc. and follow the final thesis guidelines.

Structure of the report will vary depending on research topic, however the report should contain:

  • A clear account of the most relevant background material learned so far - this should take the form of a literature review on the topic being worked on
  • A clear description of the research problem which is to form the core of the thesis
  • Outline of the progress made to date and an overall research plan.

The assessors will seek to assess whether the student has an understanding of their research field, research question and the potential to pursue research. The assessors will review the report and use the 30 minute oral viva to ascertain this.

To assist the assessment of the ESA report, students also need to prepare:

The deadline for completion for the assessment can be found on a student’s individual Milestone Sheet.

ESA guidance notes‌ (pdf)

Late stage review (LSR)

The third milestone is the Late Stage Review (LSR), where students are asked to prepare a report, and a plan of future work and present a presentation to the two independent assessors.

The report should be no more than 3,000 words excluding references, tables, figures etc. and follow the final thesis guidelines. The plan of future work should be 1-2 pages, (2,000 words max.) and can be incorporated into the written report or as a separate document.

The report should give a critical overview of the research to date, whilst the plan of future work should detail how the remaining period of the research programme will be spent. The presentation should be based upon the report and last for 10 minutes.

The assessors will be looking to assess whether the student has an adequate understanding of the research problem, a critical awareness of the literature, a realistic plan & schedule, and the capacity to pursue research. The assessors will use the written documentation and the 10 minute Q&A session following the presentation to assess this.

To assist the assessment of the LSR report & plan of future work, students also need to prepare:

The deadline for completion for the assessment can be found on a student’s individual Milestone Sheet.

LSR Guidance Notes (pdf)

Examination entry & submission

The final milestone is the nomination of the examiners and the submission of the thesis.

Supervisors are required to identify suitable examiners and, along with the student be asked to complete the Exam Entry paperwork as least four months prior to their submission date.

Supervisors should consult the College’s guidance on nomination of examiners, ensuring that one examiner is internal to the College and one is external.

If a student aims to submit their thesis prior to their maximum submission date, they should aim to confirm the nominated examiners four months prior to their chosen submission date.

Submission

Prior to submission, students should complete the Thesis Declaration Form which should be signed by their supervisor. No thesis should be submitted without the approval of the supervisor.

Theses should be submitted through eThesis - students have until 11.59pm on the date of their maximum submission deadline to submit. Anything submitted after this deadline will be classed as late.