The Graduate School

Postgraduate Research Students

How do I find out about Postgraduate Researcher Development Programme (PRDP) classes?


  • You must enrol for courses through your QSIS account. For instructions, please click here

How do I change my student status from full-time to part-time, or to thesis only?

 Changing from a full-time to part-time student

  • You must apply through your supervisor(s) to the School Postgraduate Research Committee for permission for any change in registration.  Your supervisor will provide you with the information you require and you will be asked for your reasons for changing your student status, which they will authorise and forward to the Postgraduate Research Committee within your School who decide whether or not to approve your request.
  • Any forms and other information that you will require is also available at via Research Degree Programmes

Changing to thesis-only 

  • Thesis-only enrolment is permitted for 12 months only and has a reduced tuition fee.   Your supervisor(s)will be asked to confirm that you have completed all the necessary research and been registered as full or part time for the minimum required time (available in the Regulations below; section 4, Period of Study).
  • Your supervisor will provide the request form for changing your status, which will then be forwarded to your School’s Postgraduate Research Committee for approval.

    If after 12 months you are not ready to submit your thesis you are required to register as either full-time or part-time and pay the associated tuition fees

How do I take a temporary withdrawal from my PhD research?


Temporary withdrawals (Section 5.3 of the regulations)

  • Students who wish to take a temporary withdrawal from their research should first familiarise themselves with the appropriate section of the regulations and discuss their intention with their Supervisor.
  • Students should then complete the appropriate form (Research Management Form PGR 10) and pass it to their Supervisor for their signature.  The Supervisor will then forward this form to the School Postgraduate Research Committee for authorisation. 
  • The Study Regulations for Research Degree Programmes and Research Management Forms that you will need are available via Research Degree Programmes

Who can I speak to about supervisor issues?


  • This can be a difficult issue, as these are the people you are often referred to for help. If there is another member of staff in your School whom you feel you can trust, you might want to speak to them, and ask them to help you speak to the Head of School. Most students have a secondary supervisor, so this would be a good place to start.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to anyone in your School about the difficulty, then you can speak to the Education Officer in the Students’ Union Advice Office, or you can email
  • Your School will do its best to find you another suitable supervisor. It is your responsibility to let the School know that you’re having problems. 
  • Staff in the Graduate School are available to diccuss any concerns you may have regarding your studies including regarding your relationship with your Supervisor.
  • Personal Effectiveness Consultancy Service
  • This service offers one-to-one confidential consultancy for postgraduate research students for issues relating to academic support and personal effectiveness. Typical issues students present with are: managing difficulties in working relationships, dealing with criticism, difficulties with differentiation, stress and motivation.
  • Advisors are also available to see taught students for similar issues, please contact us at for advice or an appointment.

Where can I find funding to organise a conference?


  • Funding is available throughout the year for Student-Led Initiatives. This funding is available for training initiatives developed and delivered by postgraduate research students for other research students.
  • These initiatives can involve organising a conference, research seminar or some other appropriate training activity and the content of the training event must relate to one or more of the skills areas set out in the Researcher Developement Framework (available in the guidelines below). These initiatives encourage research students to show initiative and work independently in developing training that will enhance their skills set, but also involve training and development for fellow PhD students.
  • To apply for funding students must complete an application form and outline the training content, duration and detail clearly the funding required. The application form and guidance notes are available here:
  • Student Led Initiatives application and guidelines

How do I submit an MPhil or PhD Thesis?

Information on submitting your thesis is available here

Notification to your School

  • You must notify your School office of your intention to submit your thesis, supplying the exact title of the thesis.

Submission Form for Submitting your Thesis

  • The following form must be submitted with your thesis. Your thesis cannot be sent to your examiners until this form has been submitted fully completed.

The submission form is available here

Study Regulations for Research Degrees are available via Research Degree Programmes

How do I defer my thesis submission?

 Thesis Only Status

  • If a student requires more than three years (for a full-time student) to write up their thesis, they may be registered as thesis-only (write-up) for one year only.
  • The thesis-only fee is £290 (2016-2017) for a maximum period of twelve-month study. Following the period of thesis-only, where a student has not submitted, a student will be returned to their previous status, and be required to pay fees.
  • In order to qualify for thesis-only status, the student must gain confimration from the Progress Review Panel.
  • Full guidelines on these regulations are available via Research Degree Programmes

What happens in a viva?


Guidelines on thesis examiners and the oral exam (viva voce) are available here

What is the Viva for?

The Viva is used to assess both the thesis and the candidate.

  • It provides the candidate with an opportunity to defend the thesis through high-level debates with experts in the field
  • It gives the examiners an opportunity to explore any doubts they may have about material in the thesis
  • It can be used to determine if the candidate is indeed the author of the submitted material
  • It enables the examiners to check that the candidate has a thorough knowledge of the methodology and theoretical framework, issues and statistics  involved.

Who will be present during the viva?

Normally, the following people will be present during your examination:

  •  An external examiner who is an expert in the field
  •  An internal examiner from Queen's University Belfast
  •  An independent Chair, who takes no active role in the examination process
  •  Your supervisor, in order to comment on any practical or administrative difficulties in the pursuit of research raised by the candidate. The supervisor takes no active part in the examination.

How long will the Viva last?

  • The viva normally lasts between 1 - 2 hours. If it lasts longer than this, the student should be offered a rest pause at the end of two hours.

Where do I submit my thesis?

Your soft-bound thesis (one copy for each examiner) should be submitted to the Student Records Office in the Student Guidance Centre.

Student Records will only accept your thesis if you have all the relevant submission forms correctly filled out (available here)

Where can I find the thesis submission forms?

All the relevant thesis submission forms are available on the Student Records website here, and must be fully completed before submitting a thesis.

I wish to submit a hard-bound copy of my thesis to Student Services order to graduate. Where can I find the forms?

All PhD students must submit two hard-bound copies of the thesis to Student Services in order to graduate. They must include a Library Form certified by the internal examiner as containing all the corrections required by the external examiner.  The Library Form should be bound into the front page of each copy of the thesis.

The relevant forms are available here

I've passed my viva but haven't graduated yet. Can I get a letter to prove this for a job?

Yes, if your corrections have been completed and you have submitted two hard copies of the thesis to Student Records, Student Records will provide you with a letter:

How do I deal with the Student Loans Company if I am a research student?

All students can print off a letter available on Queen's Online (in My Documents) which confirms that they are a registered student.

Postgraduate students in receipt of a PhD studentship should not consider this a salary - students do not need to begin paying back their student loans until they have graduated and left university.

I've applied for postgraduate funding. When will I know if I've been successful?

Postgraduate Research Students

All students who have successfully applied to Queen's will receive a letter offering them a place. This does not constitute an offer of funding.

Students who have been successful in their funding application will be sent a letter confirming the details. These are usually sent out by the end of May. However, due to the nature of PhD funding allocation, there are exceptions to this.

Are thirty days of developmental training compulsory for PhD students prior to graduation?

Due to the diversity of skills requirements and training needs, the University has not designated any of the training provided centrally as compulsory, but it is expected that you will undertake the recommended 30 days training with activities which will be of benefit to you and in agreement with your supervisor. Some Schools will make elements of the training compulsory so you must check with your supervisor or School Office. For differentiation purposes it is expected that you will have attended 10 days training.


Full details of training and developmental training are available here.

Does the thesis word count of 80,000 include the bibliography?


PhD and MD theses must normally not exceed 80,000 words, excluding the appendices and bibliography. Mphil theses must normally not exceed 50,000 words, excluding the appendices and bibliography. For full details on thesis guidelines, please consult 7.2.3 in the Study Regulations for Research Degree Programmes.