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This guidance has been provided to advise Schools on the procedure for academic appeals by a student on a research degree programme within their School and what is required from them when such an appeal is submitted.

The process outlined below will be followed in accordance with the Academic Appeals Regulations (Research Degree Programmes).  This guidance should be read in conjunction with the Regulations.  Where there is any doubt the Regulations take precedence over this guidance.

Overview of Procedures

Stage 1: Appeal to FSRAC

A student may appeal, on grounds, to the Faculty Student Research Appeals Committee against a decision of their School Postgraduate Research Committee relating to progression, assessment or award or an examiners’ decision regarding the outcome of an oral examination.  The appeal must be submitted to Academic Affairs within 10 working days of the date of the written communication of the decision.

A student may appeal on one or more of the following grounds:

  1. New evidence has become available which could not have been provided to the School (evidence that a student chooses to withhold from the School will not normally constitute new evidence);
  2. There has been a procedural irregularity which has had a demonstrable impact on the progress/assessment/award outcome;
  3. There is evidence of inadequate assessment on the part of one or more examiners in an oral examination;
  4. There is evidence of inadequate supervision. This refers not to the academic judgement of supervisors regarding the quality of students’ work, but rather to the adherence to University regulations, procedures and codes of practice for the supervision of postgraduate research students.  The student shall be expected either to show that they took action at the earliest possible stage to deal with any alleged supervisory problems, or to explain why they did not take such action.

Academic Affairs will acknowledge receipt of the appeal and will refer the appeal to the student’s Head of School (or nominee) for a response.  The School response should be forwarded to Academic Affairs, normally within 10 working days of receipt (see section School Response to a FSRAC appeal below). 

Where appropriate, a response may be required from another department within the University (eg Student Wellbeing / Disability Services).

Academic Affairs will convene and service a meeting of the FSRAC, which will comprise the Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor (or nominee) and another senior colleague appointed by the Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor.  The FSRAC will meet and consider the student’s appeal and the School response on the paperwork alone, so the School's response must include all relevant information required by FSRAC to make its decision.  Neither the student, nor a representative from the School will attend.  The meeting of the FSRAC may be held electronically. 

The decision shall be communicated to the student, normally within eight working days of the decision being taken.  The student will be advised of their right to appeal to CSRAC on relevant grounds.

The FSRAC may: 

  • Recommend mediation
  • Dismiss the appeal, giving reasons
  • Uphold the appeal in part or in full by varying the progression decision:
    • Declare the APR (including differentiation) null and void and direct that a new APR be held.
    • Recommend to the SPRC that it reconsider its decision.
  • Uphold the appeal in part or in full (assessment/award) and:
    • Declare the oral examination null and void; new examiners will be appointed.
    • Recommend that the examiners reconsider their decision.
    • Permit the student to revise and resubmit the thesis or to re-register and undertake more research before re-submitting the thesis.  The FSRAC will specify whether the thesis will be examined by the same or new examiners.
    • Apply on the student’s behalf for a concession to the Study Regulations for Research Degree Programmes.

A record of the FSRAC meeting will be taken. The Record of Outcome will be retained as a record of the issues considered by the FSRAC and the decision made. 

The Record of Outcome giving reasons and advising of the student’s right to appeal will be sent to the student, normally within eight working days of the decision being taken.  The student will also be sent a copy of the School’s response and any information considered by the FSRAC.    

 

Stage 2:  Appeal to CSRAC

If the student is dissatisfied with the outcome of the Stage 1 appeal (the FSRAC decision), they may appeal to the CSRAC by submitting an appeal to Academic Affairs within 10 working days of the written notification of the Stage 1 outcome on the following grounds:

- New evidence has become available which could not have been provided to the Faculty PVC as part of the FSRAC.

- There has been a procedural irregularity by the FSRAC which had a demonstrable impact on the outcome.

Academic Affairs will acknowledge receipt of the appeal and will be responsible for servicing the CSRAC.

If an appeal is received, the Head of School will be notified (copied to the Faculty PVC) and details of a nominee to represent the School at the meeting of the CSRAC will be requested.

The CSRAC will comprise a Pro-Vice-Chancellor (or nominee) (Chair) and three Directors of Research or senior academic colleagues from across the University (normally one from each Faculty).  The student shall have the right to attend the CSRAC meeting to present their case.  The Chair of the FSRAC (or nominee) will be required to attend the meeting to explain the reasons for the FSRAC's decision and may also be required to provide a written response to the student’s appeal to CSRAC.   The School may be required to provide a further written response to the student’s appeal and a representative from the School may also be required to attend the meeting of the CSRAC to provide further information relating to the provision of the research degree programme, the student’s performance and the basis on which the progression, assessment or award decision was taken. The School should provide copies of any additional documentation including written evidence in relation to the student that had not previously been available to the FSRAC.

Where appropriate, a response may be required from another department within the University (eg Student Wellbeing / Disability Services) and a representative from that department may also be required to attend the CSRAC meeting.

The CSRAC may:

  • Dismiss the appeal, giving reasons
  • Uphold the appeal in part or in full by varying the progression decision
    • Declare the APR (including differentiation) null and void and direct that a new APR be held.
    • Recommend to the SPRC that it reconsider its decision.
  • Uphold the appeal in part or in full (assessment/award) and
    • Declare the oral examination null and void - new examiners will be appointed.
    • Recommend that the examiners reconsider their decision.
    • Permit the student to revise and resubmit the thesis or to re-register and undertake more research before re-submitting the thesis. The CSRAC will specify whether the thesis will be examined by the same or new examiners.  If the appeal is upheld on the ground of inadequate supervision, the CSRAC will recommend that one or more supervisors be replaced for the further period of research.
    • Apply on the student’s behalf for a concession to the Study Regulations for Research Degree Programmes.

Guidance for Schools