Collaborative Research Degrees

A Collaborative Research Degree Programme (CRDP) is a formal arrangement of joint supervision, at PhD level, by a Queen’s academic and a member of staff from another partner organisation, when the student will spend time working away from the University at the external location. Such arrangements can lead to the conferral of a single, dual or joint award and will typically extend to the full duration of an individual programme of study.  CRDPs may also be referred to as split-site PhDs or co-tutelle.

These procedures do not apply to students registered at Queen’s and who may be attending another institution as a visiting researcher or on placement, or to students who have been granted approval for enrolment as an External Student.  Normal requirements, as set out in the University’s Study Regulations for Research Degree Programmes , will apply. 

The provision of joint supervision may also represent part of a wider institutional partnership with an external company/institution normally negotiated through the Research and Enterprise Directorate .  Schools should ensure that regardless of the wider arrangement, Academic Affairs is made aware of such arrangements to ensure they are implemented and recorded appropriately.

An institutional level Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and/or student-based, co-tutelle agreement, setting out agreed parameters for delivery is required prior to the commencement of any new arrangement in which the University is involved.  The authorised signatory for an institutional MOA is the Vice-Chancellor or an Institutional Pro-Vice-Chancellor.  Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellors may authorise individual co-tutelles.



Register of Current Arrangements



Type of Collaboration


Armagh Observatory


Research Supervision


Belfast Bible College


Research Supervision


Edgehill Theological


Research Supervision


Irish Baptist College


Research Supervision


Union Theological College


Research Supervision


University of Glasgow



Four year joint PhD training programme incorporating MRes in Photonic Integration and Advanced Data Storage

Aarhus University


Research Supervision / Split-site / Joint Award

Joint PhD

Ecole Des Mines D’Albi-Carmaux


Research Supervision / Split-site / Joint Award

Joint PhD

University of Padova


Research Supervision / Split-site / Joint Award

Joint PhD

King Saud University

Saudi Arabia

Joint Research Supervision


National Cancer Institute



Four year PhD training programme incorporating MRes in Precision Cancer Medicine

Collaborative Research Degree Approval Procedures

The approval of a proposed new CRDP will follow one of the routes below depending on the nature of the arrangement.  Academic Affairs should be contacted for advice.

(i)         Individual Joint Supervision (Co-tutelle) – Single Award 

Proposals involving the joint supervision of an individual student, where the student will receive a single award on completion (either from Queen’s or a partner institution), may be considered and agreed at School/Faculty level in accordance with internal Faculty governance procedures.

Requests should be considered by the relevant School Postgraduate Research Committee, in the first instance, and assurances secured that appropriate arrangements for support, supervision and training are put in place. The proposed joint (external) supervisor should also be assessed against normal University requirements for that position and consultation undertaken with the Faculty Finance Officer to agree fee arrangements. Consultation with other Professional Support Services should be undertaken as appropriate, for example, to ensure ongoing registration (Student Services and Systems) and visa monitoring (International Student Support Office).

Requests should be endorsed at Faculty level allowing an agreed University template for co-tutelle arrangements to be signed by the Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor.  Where the partner provides a template for signature, this should be reviewed by the Contracts Office or the Head of Legal Administration and any amendments agreed in advance.

Faculty must inform the Secretary of the CPG when the co-tutelle has been approved, so that procedures for Recognised Supervisor status can then be implemented in relation to the proposed joint supervisor.  Approval will be reported to the next available meeting of the CPG and upwards to the Research and Postgraduate Committee (RPC).

Schools are responsible for ensuring implementation of individual co-tutelle arrangements through the application of normal University processes (including ongoing registration at Queen’s), and for ensuring that joint supervisors are suitably briefed on University requirements in advance of commencing their duties. 

(ii)        Joint Supervision for Student Cohorts and Joint PhD Awards

All proposals for a CRDP involving the joint supervision of more than one student and/or the delivery of a joint or dual PhD award for one or more students, with an external partner, requires the approval of a formal institutional MOA.  As such, a staged approval process is required.

Should the arrangement involve the delivery of taught credit as part of an integrated four year PhD programme (e.g. an MRes) or the validation of research provision by an external partner without degree awarding powers, then formal validation procedures must be applied, albeit with final approval being considered by the Research and Postgraduate Committee

Stage 1: Approval to Proceed

Approval to Proceed must be secured from the relevant FEB to allow formal approval mechanisms to be instigated on behalf of the CPG. 

The initial proposal must be discussed and approved at the relevant FEB using the appropriate  pro forma for CRDPs, which should be completed and endorsed at School level in the first instance. The paperwork should also include a completed  .  Where the arrangement is to involve an international partner, the supporting paperwork required for the selection of new International Partners  should be completed.  Faculties may adopt their own procedures, in line with their respective internal governance structures, for bringing forward the required documentation. However, early contact with Academic Affairs is recommended. 

Where a discounted or bespoke fee is to be proposed, a business plan should be developed, in conjunction with the relevant Faculty Finance Officer, and agreed with the Finance Directorate. Schools should discuss initial ideas with the appropriate Dean(s) within the Faculty to check that the proposal aligns with the Faculty’s plan.

Where a proposed arrangement is to include the award of a dual or joint PhD, supporting documentation should also provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the  has been considered and key principles addressed. 

FEB must inform the Secretary to the CPG if the proposed CRDP is given Approval to Proceed and supply the name of an assigned University Coordinator, providing confirmation of the decision and supporting documentation. The Secretary will then contact the lead School (or Faculty depending on the extent/nature of the arrangement) to confirm next steps.

Stage 2: Documentation

A written submission, prepared by the School/Faculty should be provided in support of the proposed CRDP for consideration by the CPG.  In addition to background information about the proposed partner institution and a supporting rationale, the submission should specify:

  • Arrangements for admission, student registration and visa monitoring for international students.
  • Overall programme structure, including planned periods of residency at Queen’s and the external partner, and how this will align with University Regulations and registration requirements.
  • Arrangements for the support, supervision and training of students on the programme.
  • Appointment and training of Joint Supervisors.
  • Progression and Examination.
  • Graduation arrangements.
  • Programme Management.
  • Intellectual Property Rights.

In the case of a proposed joint award, the submission should also provide:

  • Evidence of the partner’s legal authority to confer a joint PhD award.
  • A detailed, comparative assessment of regulatory requirements between Queen’s and the partner institution, identifying any potential differences and how these may be resolved. 
  • A formal request (and supporting rationale) for any exemptions required to ensure Queen’s regulations and minimum standards can be maintained.
  • Arrangements for the agreement and production of joint parchments and graduation.

Further key considerations are included in the

A draft MOA will be prepared in parallel by Academic Affairs in consultation with relevant stakeholders, including the partner, as appropriate.  The MOA will include a template for an individual co-tutelle agreement to cover students participating in the CRDP.

Stage 3: University Approval

Supporting documentation should be submitted to the Secretary of the CPG for consideration at the next available meeting or via the fast track approval process. A recommendation from the CPG shall be made to the Research and Postgraduate Committee (RPC).

Stage 4: MOA Signature and Implementation

When final approval has been given by the RPC, Academic Affairs will arrange for the MOA to be signed.  Details of the new arrangement will then be circulated to relevant Faculty staff and Head of School, the University Coordinator, the Admissions and Access Service, Information Services, Finance, the Student Services and Systems and, if appropriate, the International Office and the International Student Support Office.  The MOA will be recorded on the Collaborative Provision Register.

University Coordinators will normally be responsible for taking forward implementation and should liaise with their School/Faculty, particularly in relation to the application of any Partnership Management Plans which may be required by Faculty. Schools will also be responsible for ensuring that each student recruited to the programme is supported by an individual co-tutelle, which should be approved and signed by Faculty in accordance with arrangements for such agreements.  Joint supervisors should also be approved in parallel and briefed by Schools on University requirements following approval of recognised supervisor status and in advance of commencing their duties.  

Annual Review of Research Degree Programmes

All Research Degree Programmes undergo an annual review which is coordinated by Academic Affairs as part of the standard  Continuous Action for Programme Enhancement process. A separate reporting template for CRDPs is available and must be completed by the University Coordinator for each arrangement linked to an institutional MOA and submitted to the School by the deadline set for Annual Review.

A report on returns is prepared on behalf of the CPG for consideration by the Postgraduate Research Academic Review Group. Feedback on outcomes arising from the process is normally provided to Schools for action and/or dissemination to the partner institution, as appropriate.

Review of Agreements

The majority of agreements for CRDPs are for individual students and therefore will not normally require review and will lapse on programme completion.  Where a research degree has been validated by the University then the procedures for review of validated and franchised programmes  should be followed.

In the case of other institutional MOA for CRDPs, Academic Affairs will contact the University Coordinator six months before the expiry of MOA to check if the School wishes to renew the arrangement.  If so, Faculty endorsement should be sought by the School and an updated MOA prepared. The School should provide a brief supporting rationale and send that to the Secretary of the CPG.  If the arrangement is not to continue, appropriate arrangements for withdrawal will be put in place and coordinated through Academic Affairs in association with the School/Faculty.

In making a decision to continue, Faculty should seek to review and update original business plans, with approval from Finance, for the proposed period of renewal. The updated business plan should either be presented as part of the paperwork considered by the CPG or confirmation provided that this has been agreed with Finance.

The Secretary will then collate the related documentation for consideration by the CPG and subsequent approval by the RPC.  Upon approval, Academic Affairs will inform the School and make arrangements to have the new MOA signed by each party.